Archive for the ‘Asian culture’ Category

Sonabai, self-taught artist and inspiration

On a rainy day in San Diego, this dragon blew into the Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park on free museum day. (There was actually a tornado watch going on outside! I love to fly in a storm but tornados really tear up my wings!)

Inside I found an amazing exhibit called Sonabai, Another Way of Seeing. For a decade and a half, Sonabai Rajawar’s only contact was with her husband and child! In response to this isolation, she created an entirely new artistic expression of color, light, and fun.

How amazing that she had no instruction or guidance, but was able to create such joyous art! Years later, quite by chance, the Indian art world discovered her and later gave her India’s highest honor, the prestigious President’s Award.

sonabaibookSonabai’s story clearly expresses the capacity of human beings (including dragons) everywhere to meet their challenges head on and to draw from within themselves the strength and insight to change their lives.  Sonabai found ways to transform her oppression into expressions of courage, beauty, and joy in living. What an inspiration!

Read the rest of this entry »

 

Jade Dragon for Sale – Own the site with 81,000 unique visitors!

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You can obtain Jade Dragon for the highly desirable domain name and URL (www.jadedragon.com) or take over the the entire Jade Dragon entity, including 100s of articles, plus the following:

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Also, we will be listing this site on eBay after 10/21/2014 so please contact us as soon as possible – before we open this up to the general public.



 

People’s Climate March September 21

On September 21st, 2014 people from around the nation will come together in an unprecedented citizen mobilization for the People’s Climate March in New York City.

As world leaders meet at the United Nations climate change summit, hundreds of thousands of marchers will demand the world we know is within our reach: a world with an economy that works for people and the planet; a world safe from the ravages of climate change; a world with good jobs, clean air and water, and healthy communities. Other marches will take place around the world as we collectively call on our leaders to act on climate change.

To change everything, we need everyone on board. Here’s how you can help:

  • Take a pledge to reduce your carbon footprint and JOIN US at a march (marches happening all over the world)
  • Help Spread the word on Facebook
  • Get involved with promotion, constructing visuals, logistics, and more

For inspiration: Watch Bill McKibben’s invitation to the PCM in Rolling Stone in the video below:

People’s Climate March

 

Buddha’s Birthday on a Full Moon

The flags hung in honor of Buddha's Birthday in Patan, Kathmandu

The Buddhist flags hung in honor of Buddha's birthday in Patan, Kathmandu

Buddhism is everywhere here in Nepal and it’s intermingled with Hinduism. It seems though that most people I come across are Buddhist. I have always had an interest in Buddhism; they say it’s a philosophy and not a religion. That may be true but here in Nepal it comes across as very religious to me.  The temples alone yell religion and then all the people performing different rituals also smacks of it. Religion isn’t so bad; it brings comforts to millions. Ritual is amazing; it creates energy like nothing else I’ve ever seen. And yet, I find myself resistant to it.  Here in Nepal though I feel slightly less resistant. When I am asked if I am a Buddhist the next question is usually if I am a Christian. When I tell them I’m nothing they don’t try and convert me, they just listen.

So Lord Buddha’s (as they call him) birthday is May 27th and I happened to be in Nepal for it. It’s actually a national holiday here as you can expect. Being next to the gumpa that contains all the mini monks Buddha’s  birthday was an interesting experience for me. All the trumpet playing and horn blowing they have been practicing seemed to be for this day. It was a full moon and I went onto the roof to watch the boys playing their trumpets out towards the city.

I couldn’t get any good pictures from our roof so I decided to go up on theirs. I had my camera with me and as I went to go up on the roof many of the monks were outside the gumpa. They beckoned me and asked that I please, please come in.IMG_0868

Up to this point I had been afraid to go in. I can’t really tell you why. I guess I didn’t want to be disrespectful, this lame tourist poking around inside a religious structure. I think I was also waiting for an invitation. So I finally had it and I removed my shoes and followed the monks in.

It’s so beautiful inside with large statues of Buddha and some other folks. I learned that you always walk clockwise around any religious site here and so I followed the path around inside. The energy inside the gumpa was astounding; I could feel it circulating clockwise through the building. I could feel the energy of everyone that had come that day to pray. It was positively vibrating. As I walked around I saw mini monks stashed away in corners repeating mantras out loud, sometimes in pairs, sometimes alone.

The gumpa next door

The gumpa next door

Doorway to the gumpa

Doorway to the gumpa

As I came to the end again there was a local prostrating himself. It’s quite something to see someone doing this. It’s so humble, almost apologetic. He was doing this movement over and over across the floor as if to say “forgive me, I am so worthless, make me better.” It wasn’t in the direction of Buddha’s statue and I wasn’t about to interrupt him to ask him to who or what he was doing this to. Perhaps it was just himself.

The mini monks asked if I wanted to learn how it was done and I hesitantly said yes. I have this fear of looking like an idiot because I don’t get something right the first time, but I know that it’s better to say yes and have a new experience.

One young monk showed me first. You stand up straight and put your hands in prayer position, then you bring them to your head, your heart, and then you get down on the ground and bow your head all the way down. Then you push yourself up without using your hands more than once for the push.IMG_0865

The first time I tried this I had to use my hands twice, I didn’t really trust my own strength on the hard marble floor and I was being watched. I could see on their faces that I had done it wrong even though they were obviously trying to hide it. I tried again and this time got smiles from the two monks. This is the kind of magical thing I hoped for, the sort of romantic idea that got into my head when I first heard the name Nepal. After this I felt uneasy, wondering what I should do now that I had made my rounds so I made my way out into the entranceway and watched all the young monks gathering at the lit candles. They were picking them up and bringing them inside for some purpose that I couldn’t gather, mostly because I didn’t ask. I kept having this sense like I was interrupting something, that I was an outsider. I felt myself shrinking back. I wanted to take a picture badly but was afraid to ask. I didn’t want to make a wrong impression or say something wrong but the photo opportunity was too good to let go.

I haven’t prostrated myself since then but I have this feeling like it would do me some good. I think it would do a lot of people some good. Do I have to prostrate myself to some religious god? Shouldn’t I prostrate myself in front of my own self judgment instead. I could learn to be easier and more care free…

Woman celebrating in the Laghenkel area of Kathmandu

Woman performing a ritual in honor of Buddha's birthday

 

The Estrogen/Thyroid Connection

Having a Functional Endocrinology based practice I often focus on disorders pertaining to sexual function so I want to describe to you a rather obscure tidbit pertaining to estrogen and its relationship to thyroid function. Low thyroid function is something that I talk a lot about because it affects a great many people whether they know it or not. Indeed the thyroid gland is very misunderstood and is certainly mistreated through the mainstream approach. But the thyroid gland itself aside, this article is focused on how thyroid hormone activity (not thyroid hormone production) can be hindered due to imbalances in the sex hormone estrogen.

When looking at thyroid hormones, or any hormones really, it is important to differentiate between the protein bound and free forms of the hormone. When a hormone is created by a gland it is immediately bound up with a carrier protein who’s job it is to get that hormone to where it needs to go without being destroyed or lost along the way. Once the hormone is where it needs to be that carrier protein is removed and the hormone is “free” to do its job. That is why these hormones are called “free fraction” or “free hormones.”

In the case of thyroid hormones there is a specific carrier protein called Thyroid Binding Globulin. It just so happens that when there are elevated levels of estrogen the amount of Thyroid Binding Globulin in the blood also goes up. This increased number of binding proteins hold onto more of the thyroid hormone which works to hinder them from doing their job. Remember, protein bound hormones can’t bind to their receptor. They just float around in the blood. So if you were to do a basic thyroid screen you would usually be looking for the protein bound form (generally due to the lower cost of the test) and everything might look fine. The thyroid is producing plenty of hormone and the paperwork all looks great. But why then is this woman still having trouble losing weight, losing her hair, struggling with low energy, and not pooping very often? These are all low thyroid symptoms which exist even though the actual hormone levels are normal. “Go home, there is nothing wrong with you.” Right? Hmmm….

The reason that these symptoms persist is because the elevated estrogen induces a low thyroid state by stopping the free form of the hormone from binding to the receptor. For all intensive purposes this person is low thyroid. The unfortunate part is that the average blood work up won’t account for the interplay between estrogen and thyroid Binding Globulin.

A careful history looking for high estrogen conditions like breast cancer, breast cysts, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, or hormone replacement therapy for example should all come into play when considering complaints of low thyroid function. This is thinking outside the box of mainstream medicine. These cases are missed all the time which is unfortunate. It is also of course a great idea to have a look at estrogen levels and there is even a test for Thyroid Binding Globulin. These are tests that I can order if your primary physician is unable or unwilling to order them for you. Be prepared for such a response.

This is just another example of how hormone imbalance can have a negative affect on sexual function and health in general. Let’s face it… Someone who is experiencing low thyroid symptoms for any reason is generally low energy. And I think that we all know how great sex can be when one or more of the people involved is, “too tired!” Let’s be proactive here. Healthy sexual function can translate into great overall health and lend itself to a positive outlook on life. It is as natural as breathing, sleeping, and pooping! And when it comes to thyroid health all of the above can be involved. The solution may be as simple as just looking for the right thing.

 

Mini Monks in Nepal

Mini MonksWhen I signed up to work with Mindful Medicine Worldwide I was able to request my location so I chose to work in Chapagaon, a rural location just outside of Kathmandu. The clinic is on the grounds of a Buddhist teaching monastery. A teaching monastery is where boys age 5 to 18 come to live to learn to be Buddhist monks. That’s right, there are lots of mini monks here, running around in burgundy and yellow robes.

One of the perks of being in this clinic is getting to treat the mini monks, whether it be rubbing Neem oil on their heads or dressing their many cuts and scrapes. (What the hell is Neem oil ? Why, it’s a wonderful Ayurvedic antimicrobial, antifungal, skin healing plant oil that has a gnarly funk to it.)

In my head, before I came here, I had thought how peaceful it would be to be next to a Buddhist monastery. I had pictured rolling green hills and monks chanting in unison at dusk. Monks in training are actually quite noisy; they’re learning to play horns, they chant out of tune and tempo. Every morning at 9:30 and evening at 7:30 they come into the clinic using the little English they know, “hellloo, hello, helloo?” I massage the Neem onto their shaved, fungus-infected heads, not bothering to wash my hands in between. A few of them roll back their ears to show crusty spots where I apply a Chinese herbal balm to it. Another shows me the chunk of skin missing on the bottom of his foot and points to the Calendula. Read the rest of this entry »

 

Teaching Massage in Nepal

Nepal clinic

This is my second blog on being in Nepal as a volunteer for Mindful Medicine. (See my earlier blog for more details on how I ended up in Nepal.)

What I like about Mindful Medicine is that they want their work to be sustainable, to make a lasting difference. Instead of just bringing acupuncturists in for 2 to 4 month periods to treat, they have them teach as well. The Vajra Varahi clinic-paid interpreters have been learning basic acupuncture treatments so that they can help the acupuncturists that come here as well as treat in their absence.

Since I am a body worker and only halfway through my training as an acupuncturist I came to work here in a slightly different capacity. I was able to bring a massage table that was donated from Earthlight to do the work (30 pounds, by the way!). My job here is to teach the staff the basics of massage and anatomy so that they can continue to help the local population. A lot of people here have low-back, neck, and shoulder pain, often accompanied with arthritis. See the picture below (enough said).

Nepal bushels

nepal_women

I’ve started teaching. The students are Satyamohan, Sonya, and Prajwal who are all 25 years old and Ramita who is 33 and the only one with a child. They all have other jobs in the clinic, such as interpreting and reception work. I designed my classes based on my 6 years of experience, what Jessica and Grainne of Mindful Medicine had talked to me about, and what I went over with the clinic director when I got here. The students are picking it up fast and I’m actually envious of the way they get to learn massage, with one-on-one attention and none of the bullshit classes I had to take to satisfy state requirements. I’m working really hard to make sure that they can apply what I am teaching them once I am gone. Read the rest of this entry »

 

Volunteering in Nepal, A Personal Story

Amy in NepalThis metal monkey just turned 30 and is a body worker. I have been a body worker and holistic health practitioner for 6 years. It’s my life, it’s who I am, it’s what I do and the motivation for most of my endeavors. I am also currently working on a master’s degree in traditional Chinese medicine so that I can become an acupuncturist and herbalist. I’ve made it halfway through the 4 years it takes to accomplish this, that is, 4 years if you don’t care about having a life.

I want to have a life! I want to experience things, people, and places as well as be in love with Chinese medicine. To become an acupuncturist you have to be passionate about it, you have to love people, and you have to be driven. It’s not an easy path but it’s very rewarding. To be a Chinese medicine practitioner is to give your life to it, to live it, and to be an example. At least that’s what they tell you. To become a traditional healer, you have to do hours of rote memorization, you have to study relentlessly, and you have to get to a point where you just don’t give a shit any more and then try to remember why you’re there. You have to half ass your way sometimes and choose your battles.

So, I needed a break. A good break, a real break—not just the measly two to three weeks you usually get in between trimesters. (Yes, school is year round.)

I’ve never been to Asia before and here I am studying Chinese medicine. So much is lost on me because I don’t innately know the culture. Asia is huge; it encompasses places like Nepal, China, Tibet, both Koreas, and Japan. I’m not a very experienced traveler; I’ve been to some of the standard locations in the U.S. , as well as to Spain, Mexico, Jamaica, and Costa Rica. None of this could really prepare me for what it’s like to come to Nepal. I knew I had to get the hell out of dodge and take a break from school before I went crazy, stopped giving a shit, and stopped learning. Read the rest of this entry »

 

Wind Invasions and Other Funny Business

Wind InvasionEver wonder what in the world us acupuncturists are thinking when we tell you that you have some kind damp heat accumulation in your lower jiao, or that your liver qi is attacking your spleen? Well how about a wind invasion?

I hope to help you understand a bit better where we are coming from by talking today about wind invasions. After all, it is the time of year for them. By wind invasion I am really talking about colds and flus. So how does what we do for a cold differ from what you might otherwise accomplish at the drug store? Simply put, the methods, and herbs prescribed for these illnesses work to both address the symptom as well as fight off the infection. And it does this with specificity in mind as to the particular type of infection. A cold pill only gets you through it.

Now we all know the basic symptoms of a cold or flu, but not every infection will present the same. Take for example what we call a wind heat invasion. This is the type of cold that creates hot-type symptoms such as fever, cough, red/swollen throat, sweats and perhaps a thick green or yellow mucus. This is in sharp contrast to the type of cold that produces chills, headache, stiff neck, and a clear runny nose as seen in a wind cold invasion. Read the rest of this entry »

 

China’s Solar Valley Shines Brightly

Himin Group's Sun-Moon Mansion

Himin Group’s Sun-Moon Mansion

This rabbit recently hopped over to the city of Dezhou, in Shandong Province, to partake in some Earth Day festivities with a few friends. While there, I learned more about the greening of China and the significant role Dezhou plays in this cleantech movement. The future certainly looks bright for å¾·å·ž!

Did you know that Dezhou is one of the leading global players in solar technology today? The city boasts a thriving research and development, manufacturing, and tourism center and those in the renewable industry often refer to Dezhou as China’s Solar Valley. The Chinese government has supported the cleantech movement in this region through preferential tax benefits and other various policies that helped attract top firms to Dezhou. In just a few short years, China has become the leading manufacturer of wind turbines and solar panels around the world. It appears China has really stepped up in a significant way to promote sustainable technology.

According to the Chinese Renewable Energy Industries Association (CREIA), there were 1.12 million renewable energy jobs in China, as of 2008; the association believes more than 100,000 new jobs will be added each year in China going forward. The solar industry in China is very robust and is currently experiencing a growth rate of nearly 30 percent a year. It is China’s stated goal to have 8 percent of their electricity generation come from solar, biomass, and wind by the year 2020. The government plans to subsidize renewables to the tune of $450 billion over the next five years to help meet this goal.

Read the rest of this entry »