Moving Towards Balance, Charting Territory

I have positioned my lifestyle to have its primary emphasis be on natural health: I eat primarily an organic whole foods diet, engage in energetic movement practices such as taiji and yoga, and maintain a daily awareness practice, all within the context of my living and working environment: a residential school of Asian medicine and bodywork. Our program emphasizes the “School of the Center”, the Sattvic path. I attempt to put these principles into practice in my daily life, with a goal of moving continually towards balance.

However, I fluctuate in my practices, at times abandoning organic foods for the immediate gratification of the service and richness of the restaurant experience, or forgoing movement practices in order to focus on employment or entertainment goals. Even now, my practices are not infallible, and I still experience extreme moods and attraction to intoxicants now and again. But more so now than ever before, I am able to witness and moderate these fluctuations, and herein lies my faith in my movement towards balance: in the past, I felt a victim to happenstance, unable to control or buffer my shifts in mood or desire. Yet with a continued commitment to a spirit-based lifestyle of service and practice, I continually feel more at home in my bodymind, able to sit in silence and meditate.

I keep my mind engaged, eager to seek out new experiences to learn from, and am not particularly plagued by foggy thinking or profound laziness. I have a fit and healthy body, though it occasionally experiences Cold and Damp and Yin Deficiency. I am able to maintain healthy relationship with others, and when I find myself being insensitive or selfish, I am usually able to take responsibility for my feelings and communicate my desire to find mutual contentment. My commitment is to a path of service based in the concept that all beings and things are interconnected, and the one true purpose is Universal harmony.

I believe that the most effective course of action for me to bring myself closer to total balance is to continue to apply the principles I already have: deepen my commitment to a diet of fresh and local organic whole foods as the foundation for a practice of mindful living, seek out teachers of medicine and the Tao who I can respect and learn from, and perpetuate relationship as a practice of service, supporting the people in my family and community.

Apple may Think Different, but wants users to all Think Alike

I recall a few years back, when computer experts experimenting with the original xBox discovered a method by which they could replace a piece of hardware within the unit and transform it from mere gaming machine to a full-featured computer. Folks began to manufacture and distribute the replacement chip, and laypeople could modify their xBoxes to create a powerful computer for a fraction of the cost of building such a machine from component parts. Microsoft’s strategy included taking a hit in profit on the hardware of the console, betting that they would more than recover the loss in the form of licensing software games, and they were not pleased about the popularity of this modification. Microsoft got litigious, claiming that the modifications were illegal manipulation of their intellectual property (i.e. the insides of that xBox); defendants claimed that since they had paid to acquire the unit, the hardware was completely their property to modify however they pleased. It was awkward for a while, as Microsoft sought to protect their empire while alienating their supporters.

I thought of this story not in relationship to any current weirdness with Microsoft, but rather with my currently uneasy relationship with Apple Inc. You see, I want an iPhone, but I frankly don’t give a damn about the phone function itself. While I am willing to pay the hefty price tag for what is allegedly the world’s greatest iPod/mobile internet/email/PDA device (with functionality over WiFi), I am not willing to pay a dime to AT&T for service (let alone the $59 x 24 months = $1,416 for the most meager minute allotments).
Continue reading “Apple may Think Different, but wants users to all Think Alike”

Dear Reno,

I know my sudden departure may come as a shock to you, but in truth, it has been a long time coming.

Since I arrived, in fact.

I ought to have told you earlier in our relationship, but I’m not the type to settle down, and no sooner do I arrive than I am already looking at the exit door. It’s a pattern I need to work on, I know. Because we started some things together. Things that when we started, I thought I was ready to commit to. A real career, a real community. I took on a lot of responsibility for our growth together, and I saw early on that I got in too deep too quickly. That happens sometimes when we meet again after a long time apart, and the new traits make even the old familiar ones exciting again.

An adage I use often: the more things change, the more they stay the same.

I’m not sure exactly what that means, but I suppose figures of speech become so because they speak to us on many levels, sometimes eluding us with simple complexity…

Anyway…

I got in too deep too quickly, and I tried to correct for that. I noticed you notice me withdrawing, and even as I did so, I was really intending to come back with fervor, stoke the coals and grow back stronger, but, well, that just didn’t happen. And I left you hanging.

I’d like to say, Reno, that “It’s not you. It’s me.” But it is you. You left me hanging, too. I thought you’d pick up the slack in our relationship, see that the distance I was creating was for my own protection, realize that you could keep us both safe by stepping up to the challenge of taking care of your old friend. But that didn’t happen. You stayed needy, quietly, and I just couldn’t keep feeding you all I had.

Reno, you’re a Gateway place, some intersection of laylines gives you purpose. The last place between lush free Pacific and desolate, barren dystopic desert – just look at all the “Burners”, those transhuman souls desperate to re-create the excitement of cosmic life who pass through you in droves on their annual pilgrimage to the psychotic other-land of their imagination, forced by the tight white collar of this doomed culture to flip out in the opposite direction, Reno is their gateway to that land. Also between the hot south Vegas Angeles and the cool north Portland Seattle, while not a pit-stop for most, Reno, you are the fulcrum.

Even more, Reno, you are a portal between above and below, the reality of the living and the realm of the discorporeal. I meet as many disembodied beings as embodied ones, searching for the warmth of connection with another soul, able to envelop and protect them from their own limitless hunger.

Take a look at yourself, Reno: you exist as transition fixed, progress frozen at each step. You amaze me with your progressive stationaryness. A lot of people, well, they need to spend time on the threshold – from here one can look forward and backward through time, peer at the notion of the soul, obsess over sureality – until they become ready to tip the balance of their own destiny in the controlled repetitive falling of walking forward.

Reno, I’m sorry to leave you. It makes me sad.  It does. I’ll watch you from afar, and check in, but I’ll miss all the games we started that we didn’t quite finish. Or really, even quite begin.

But it isn’t you, it is me.

I am thrilled for the future! One can only stand on the precipice of destiny for so long before being drawn in. Not that I believe in destiny, necessarily, or karma, but with observation the patterns of life are undeniable. Not sitting still says something about me: I am not complacent. I am not waiting for something better to come along, I am beckoning it. And consequently, my life continually improves, quality of life gets richer, growth and learning accelerate.

When I reunited with you, Reno, it was meant to be only a short time. That short time extended, and extended some more until I didn’t know for sure when we would separate. (I hope you didn’t get too comfortable during that time – I didn’t.) So the last half a year has been borrowed time… I hope you can understand.

I’m leaving you to be with Heartwood Institute again. Heartwood is a village, a school, devoted to healing arts. My students are here and there, but my teachers are waiting for me there. Accelerated growth, deepening of practice is the hallmark of that kind of life. For all of our amazing projects, I feel stagnant where I am.

It’s time for me to move on.

It’s both of us.

Let’s try not to have a drawn out farewell. I ain’t one for no emotional goodbye…

Serve God and Mammon

Living in the city, it is very difficult to resist becoming swept up in the materialist river of the dominant culture. Some say that each person dreams the world into existence – meaning that we imagine our circumstances before they come into being – and so we can choose to live in any kind of world we desire. However, if one doesn’t *choose* to dream their desires into reality, then they unconsciously participate in the cultural dream – in our case, a nightmare of materialism, greed, and fear. A catch is that we are influenced by the psychic spheres of the people we spend our time around; even if our friends are conscious waking beings, the vast majority of urbanized humans are deeply asleep, co-creating the cultural nightmare by not actively envisioning an alternative.

So I find myself. Overly concerned about money, and thusly having money problems. Continuously wandering the detour-laden route to a potential happy place in an indistinct future paved with dollars and credit cards. Work to earn money to buy food and pay rent to have the space to do our practice (the personal work that will purify and strengthen our bodies and minds) – but somehow there’s just always some more work or more chores and the practice is ever elusive. Worse, is that the money never seems to come quickly enough, and is spent faster than it is earned, accruing debt, so the money becomes even more important, and either the quality of work goes down to earn more, or simply more hours are contributed to earning money. Finally I find myself thinking, “if I just dedicate *all* my time to work, then I’ll earn *loads* and can pay off the debt and then save and then *someday* I can quit all this and *someday* I can dedicate all my time to the practice.”

Eh, No. A step in the wrong direction.
One cannot serve both God and Mammon.
My dream is not to work part time and practice part time. No.
My dream is to be a Hacker Ninja Poet Healer. All day, every day. With or without the money.
So: Sell the junk! Give it away! Destroy the credit cards, quit the job! Go. Go out to a place where the air is clean and the food comes from the Earth (did you know that??). Sleep and wake up and practice. Cook food for others and find enough to eat.
There is no strategy. There is not a plan. And it’s frightening, because there aren’t role-models wandering the streets of Reno who I can follow and learn from. People might think I’m crazy. I might not have a working car all the time. And it’s pretty likely that I’ll be uncomfortable.
But I’m uncomfortable right now, surrounded by too much shit.
And I don’t serve Mammon.

Juxtapose

In the last week, there was a triple murder two blocks from my house (one of the victims an unborn child), my neighbor across the street was arrested by FBI agents with assault rifles (photos from my front window: mojohito.ro/images/20070…aid_Neighbor/ ), my father slipped from a ladder and broke two bones just before moving out of the house he’s owned for 17 years, and a conversation with my boss has me wondering if I’ll be invited back to work for much longer.

At the same time, I’m in a deep and mutually loving relationship with the woman of my dreams, I’m going with my family to see The Devil Makes Three perform in San Francisco soon, I ate homemade spelt-strawberry pie for breakfast, we closed on the 40 beautiful acres on Lake Oroville, and I’m inspired by a new client to pursue my (weird geeky) passion for building websites.

Where does this lead? Gratitude for this awesome privilege of life, gratitude for freedom, gratitude for health, gratitude for Earth, gratitude for abundance.

I hope that you’re experiencing awe and gratitude, too.
If you’re not, I advise you to take a good long look at why the hell not.

Deconstruct Your Problems

As I look at my problems – analyze and deconstruct suffering – it is not difficult to see that comparatively speaking my problems are minimal to nonexistant. For comparison’s sake I point out that I have not and probably never will be seriously concerned with whether or not I will have enough food to eat or be protected from the elements.

Things I consider to be issues are whether or not to upgrade my handheld computer to the latest operating system and run the risk of having my old programs not work, thus having to find new programs and configure them. Or whether I’d prefer to eat at a Mexican or Thai restaurant for dinner. Or if I really don’t want to eat more sugar that I’ll have to drive to the south end of town to buy the special sugar and dairy free frozen dessert before the shop closes.

And as I meditate on this vertigo-inducing look at the relativity of “problems”, I realize that all of these examples and more are actually indicative of something that I would consider a legitimate problem for someone in my position, and really the source of my personal suffering is that gadgets and being served and eating gross desserts really only function to distract me from accomplishing anything meaningful.

I have only one problem: I don’t spend enough time developing my spiritual life. And that I’ve created a life in which making the time for my practice is rather difficult. Because I have a job (a few jobs, actually) and material ambitions. Oh, surely I can pat myself on the back for working in a yoga studio rather than a shopping mall, but how different are they, really? (Well, the answer to that one is rather complicated, and hinges on how you – and the studio’s clients – define “yoga”.) I trade time for money, and with the money I rent a house, buy costly health food, have high-speed internet, and pay off debt. Somehow, in my awkward schedule, I find it nearly impossible to carve out more that a quarter hour to practice: meditation, taiji, bodywork, martial arts.

All the things that are most important to me are the first to be sacrificed in the name of an urban lifestyle.

Chin High

I love to write, and I love to write for this journal/blog. I craft entries in my head for days, weeks even, imagining a perceived audience anticipating my update quietly. But the posts don’t get written, and my drawling mental drafts get weary and frayed. I plan to write. “Today I’ll make a blog post”, I think. I put it on my “To Do” list, which is any variety of scraps of paper, chunky felt-tipped letters on a dry erase board, note books, post-its, text on a mobile phone. But the posts don’t get written, the list is too long.

I begin to get miffed at myself, and even resent the perceived audience. I don’t get emails or personal tribe messages inquiring to my well-being, so I imagine that nobody is out there, or that nobody cares. And that’s not really important, and not really why I write. So, before I give you a bulleted story as to my excuses and perpetual priorities, I’m just going to say:

Maybe I’m taking a vacation from the ‘net for a while. Maybe I’ll not be planning to write another post, to be a blogger extraordinaire. Maybe you shouldn’t wait for another entry in my journal. Instead, you send me a personal message on tribe. Send me an email. Get on Skype and add me as your friend. Figure out what Twitter is and add mojohito as your friend. Dial 415 992 5525 and see what happens. Leave a voice mail message. I’m really easy to learn about, find, talk to. But I don’t have the time to make the time to sit down and write to you a beautifully worded entry about all the events listed below. I’m re-prioritizing, and instead of blogging, I meditate. Instead of abosrbing information, I integrate. Instead of thinking, I do. Here’s a sample:

> Tahoe Yoga and Wellness Center. I work the front desk as a receptionist, I update the website, I make fliers and you know what? I’m making print adverts that get published.
> Tahoe Yoga some more. I facilitate taiji sessions, five days a week, in addition to the desk job.
> Hito’s Homemade. The kombucha is thriving, and so is the market for my humble project. Heatherlee and I are working together on this, 50/50 and splitting profits, but it’s difficult to keep up with the work necessary. It’s probably a black market operation, but the Health Department doesn’t return my phone calls, so I don’t know.
> Great Basin Community Food Cooperative. I’m the webmaster, which means I maintain and update the website, and think a lot about how to make it better for the people who use it. I also maintain the bulletin board and the events calendar, which get a lot of spam, which takes more time to delete.
> GBCFC cont’d: I’m doing ordering, which is about five hours every week or every other week.
> GBCFC part III: I’m still on the Board of Directors. But I’ve quit the other committees, and stopped going to meetings.
> Healthy Beginnings; It’s a Lifestyle Magazine. My first professional article will be published in the May issue of this local magazine. I expect to have future articles published locally, and move up from there. I love to write.
> Canemasters: at my first ranking test, Grandmaster Mark Shuey Sr. was impressed with how quickly I’m improving, and skipped a rank. I’m in the Cane Masters International Association, and I ought to be teaching the exercise routine classes for folks with limited range of motion and recovering from injuries within a month or two. Still have a lot of work to do before I’m ready to teach self defense.
> Bodywork. I finally put in my application to take the National Certification Exam for Massage and Bodywork today. Really looking forward to practicing shiatsu legally, but I’ve got a lot of anatomy studying to do.
> Dharma. I think I’m finally beginning to learn what this means, thanks to Lama Marut of a Tibetan Buddhist tradition. I STRONGLY encourage you to check out his website and subscribe to his podcast: www.lamamarut.org I’m finally putting some things aside and taking up a daily meditation practice. Finally, I’m beginning to understand.

No doubt that I am forgetting at least one major project in my life. Like the garden, or the house, or living healthy relationships, or experimenting with computer networking, or writing for wirelessisfun.com, or…

Oh, and my parents have bought the piece of land near Chico, and them and Brother Cheetah expect to move out of Reno in June to begin the farm.

Look, go back up there, and find the part about how to reach me, and consider trying. The future is now. It’s wide open. Be alert, bring your awareness into your body, into your breath, each moment.

You might have money now, but soon enough you will find that Love is the only currency. And that’s not bullshit, so you better get your karma in order.

Like music? Listen to Roots Manuva’s “Awfully Deep” and be moved by some urban spiritual warrior hip hop dub like you’ve never heard.

Keep it real.

In Solidarity,
Mojohito

Over and Out

The Popcorn Situation

In case you didn’t already figure it out yourself, here’s the proper way to handle the popcorn situation:

I used to love to pop my corn in an electric wok cranked on high and a little bit of oil, with the lid cracked to let steam escape. But since I’ve learned about healthy oils and toxic oils and what happens to oils when they get heated and so on, I’ve developed a better system.

Firstly, get yourself an older air-popper popcorn machine. The new ones are crap. Spend two-fifty at the Reno Sparks Gospel Mission and get the grubbiest one you can find. Grubbiness indicates a long and healthy use. Pop your corn. I often use paper grocery bags folded over for popcorn; they’re mobile. Get the popped corn in the bowl or bag before adding the toppings, including and especially oil:

The best part is to use a lot of unrefined flax seed oil; it adds a delictible greasiness to the popcorn, and just so happens to be rich in essential fatty acids used by the brain.

For saltiness, my favorite is nama shoyu – raw, unpasteurized soy sauce – a nice probiotic. But for a kick I use ume plum vinegar – sweet and tart and salty, a real dynamic flavor sensation. For these two I put them in little pump spray bottles and mist the popcorn. Pretty clever, huh?

Optionally, add some nutritional yeast – or again more daring: spirulina or alfalfa powder!

Seriously, folks, you can turn popcorn into a uber-healthy superfood delivery system.

Upgrades

I am pleased to report that Tahoe Yoga and Wellness Center in Reno is up and running. The Center is absolutely beautiful, and a dream to work at every day. The first week was slow, but attendence has been steadily increasing and we’re starting to see some normal numbers. I’ve been facilitating tai chi every day for the past week, and, not surprisingly, I’m very much getting into the flow. For the most part, my only students have been my parents and Heather, and I am thrilled that my folks are taking to tai chi so enthusiastically. Constant tai chi and yoga practice is radically shifting my world. Between classes (when I’m not at the desk) I sit on the couch and drink tea or kombucha and talk about healing arts with other people hanging out in the space.
I’m taking direct steps towards the National Certification Exam for massage, because – although shiatsu is distinctly different from massage therapy – I need National Certification to get a state massage license to practice shiatsu. Maybe I’ll do massage for TYWC, but my real vision is the nutrition/shiatsu/tai chi combo based on Taoist Five Element model. It’s very effective and from what I’ve seen. no one else around here (Reno/Great Basin) is doing anything similar.
Heather and I are moving out; we’re getting out of the big house shared with my parents and brother Cheetah and moving into our own big house! If all goes according to plan. It’s a beautiful four bedroom on 3/4 acre in the valley. It’s one of the older houses in the neighborhood, totally bikeable around town. The place is bigger than we need (and heating will be an issue in the winter), but we’ll have lots of room for our various experiments and have plenty of space for meetings, potlucks, guests, and wrestling.
The place was a punk-rock flop house for years, run primarily by various combinations of the Salliberry sisters (3 brilliant and crazy young women who are long time friends); everybody who’s anybody in the Reno hipster scene has lived there at some time or another. Now, for whatever reason, all the roommates are moving out at once, and the place is up for grabs, including a fair bit of antique furniture and a lot of salvaged doors. Maybe a drum-kit, too. Heather and I are taking it, in two weeks.

This will be a very interesting experiment if only for one reason: for the almost 10 collected years that I’ve lived in Reno, I have always lived in this same suburban house with my folks. It’s worked out well, I’d say, but I’ve always felt isolated and dependent on my (lovely) car to get around. I’ve thought I’d like Reno much more if I lived in town, able to bike and walk to get around. Now I get to impliment that notion, utilizing a house reminiscent of Fight Club as home base.

We’re getting serious. Plum flower poles. Jungle gym. Slackline. Octogon?

UPDATE:
I can’t believe I forgot to mention: I’ve been appointed a position on the Great Basin Community Food Cooperative Board of Directors! I hope that I can now more effectively help provide leadership for our budding food store intoooooo the FUTURE!

And some good news and some bad news:

The good news is that my Magyar-Romanian friend Bori has been accepted into Oxford. I don’t know if she ever reads this, but she deserves congratulations!

The bad news is that sustainability hero Old Mill Farm manager Cas severely wounded his hand almost two months ago. He’s expected to make a full recovery, no thanks to our government:

After applying for workman’s compensation he was instead fined $15,000 for not having a guard on the table-saw, adding insult to injury. Does the person who made that decision sleep soundly at night? S/he’s certainly not helping anyone – this fine not only affects Cas and his family, but everyone in Mendocino who relies on OMF to provide beyond-organic meat and vegetables! I don’t often curse people, but this development makes me furious. Sorry Cas. I’m losing sleep over it, seriously.