May 31, 2011

My husband’s words on religion

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:29 am by DivineShantiYoga

There are so many reasons that I am proud to be married to a wonder human being who constantly shows his unconditional love for me and our family. He has proven over the years that LOVE conquers all. Here are some words that he has written about his views on organized religion, how it has affected our family, and we believe inspiring enough to share.

“I think that the basic underlying message of all religions is full of love and hope. There are those who radicalize their faith and use it to justify hate and destruction, as we have seen throughout history in all religions. However, I feel that all of them originate from the same basic virtuous principles-that are based on love, acceptance and understanding.

My belief is that there is no one universal religion for everyone and that each person must find their own faith within. I personally do not agree with established religion, but I respect that so many people have found peace and hope with their religious affiliations. I prefer the idea of spirituality.

I know that there are powers and energies in this universe that we live in and I think they are so far beyond our ability to understand, that throughout our evolution we began to label them with ideas that are easier to rationalize. If you look at all religions throughout history you can see this is the case. As we began to intelligently analyze our physical world we began to understand the root cause of natural phenomenon. We better understood that an illness or a natural disaster was not the wrath of an angry God, but the intricate and amazing world in which we live. We are such a small fraction of the totality that is the sum equation of our entire universe, and I think it is somewhat ludicrous to place ourselves in such a predominant and central role as some religion does.

This is not to say I do not think religion is unimportant or unnecessary. I think it is very much so. It is exactly what many people need to overcome hardship, despair, addiction and so many other afflictions associated with our human state. An established ideology, faith, and set of “rules” give many people the guidance that they are unable to find on their own.

The problem arises when those who subscribe to one religious ideology think that their way is the only true and correct way, and that all others who do not believe what they believe, are wrong and need to be converted to their way of thinking. The severity of this ideology can range from simple-minded judgment of others, all the way to killing someone for not sharing the same belief. Countless wars and deaths have plagued our history simply because a religious conviction drove mankind into hatred and mistrust. No religious sect is innocent of this and unfortunately we still see it happening today. From the Israelis and Palestinians to the Muslim extremists and even in our own country, with people protesting soldiers deaths saying “God hates soldiers” or blowing up doctor’s offices for performing abortions.

I have struggled for many years with what my beliefs are. I was raised by loving parents whom I trusted, to believe in religious ideas as the Baptist faith sees it. Throughout my life, it was never something that truly resonated fully with me. I have had many internal conflicts with what I perceived to be my beliefs and what I felt deep inside myself as my true beliefs. I did not want to disappoint my parents, or let them down in any way. I wanted to live up to what they felt so strongly was correct. I had a lifetime of programming that I did not fully agree with. I knew I would be judged by them and this brought on great shame, which in turn has created its own issues.

Unfortunately, this idea that there is only one way to view things has caused a rift within our family. I am fine with and accept my parents’ beliefs. I am not fine with the judgment and closed-mindedness and the pain that causes. The root of this belief is based on judgment. Judgment of others and of what they believe in (including their own son). From their perspective, if anyone does not believe what they believe; then those people are wrong and need to change, or they don’t accept them. Until they can see how they have damaged relationships from this judgment, then the healing process cannot take place.”

~ Written by Ed Benton


May 26, 2011

Worry (Chinta) and Faith (Sraddha)

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:07 am by DivineShantiYoga

Worry is  a draining, dis-empowering form of fear that is usually not based in reality. Worry is a habitual response that focuses on a negative or worse possible outcome. We worry that we are going to be late for work, even though fear doesn’t actually help us get there faster. It is unfortunate that many people are stuck in a state of constant worry about things that they cannot change or control.

Worry often relates to an attachment of being in control of life events or other people. Without a connection to the true Self, the ego thinks that it is in charge. Worry also reflects a lack of faith that the universe will provide and support us. Without faith, worry consumes us at life’s every twist and turn that goes in a seemingly “wrong” direction. Faith helps us to realize that life may not always go the way we want, but it gives us exactly what we need in order to learn the appropriate lessons.

Ask yourself, “Do I have faith?” If the answer is yes, in what do you have faith? Now write down one to three worries you experience. Look at your worries and ask yourself the first question: Do you have faith? If you really have faith, then you would have no worries!

~ Robert Butera, Ph.D.

May 20, 2011

Chocolate Tofu Pudding Recipe

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:26 am by DivineShantiYoga


1 pound soft silken tofu (16 oz.)

2 Tbsp. cocoa powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1/3 to 1/2 cup pure maple syrup (to taste)

1 tsp. vanilla extract


Place all ingredients in blender and process until completely smooth. Place into bowls and chill well before serving.

May 17, 2011

“I AM” The Documentary (movie review)

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:06 am by DivineShantiYoga

Just to be clear, there is another movie with the same title (I AM) that is available currently by rental, and that one is about Christianity. This review is NOT on that film.

This is a NEW film, one that is currently playing at select theaters and is a documentary about Tom Shadyac, who is the movie producer for popular comedies such as “Ace Ventura” and “The Nutty Professor.”  Tom was living what he once thought to be “the rich American dream”, with multiple mansions, flying on a private jet all over the world, and spending money on anything and everything his heart desired.

After a tragic bicycling accident, and spending months hospitalized, he had hit an ultimate low and slowly began realizing what is truly important in life. This film displays clearly what is wrong with our world, and invites you to become an active member in society, creating change for us to be able to maintain life on our planet and as a human race. It points out our need for an awakening that we have an unhealthy relationship with materialism and what we consider “success” in this country.

As human beings, we have an inherent interconnectedness, which is a major yogic teaching. Every choice we make every single day affects one another in this universe. Whether it is choices in consumerism, or even what we think, and what energy we radiate into the world, it naturally affects all other living things.

Tom’s message is delivered with his talent for comedy, and I found myself throughout this movie; laughing out loud, triggered with feelings of compassion, shedding a couple of tears, nodding my head in agreement, and was left feeling inspired to make a large sign saying “free hugs” and using it in public.

So, go see this film. Highly recommend it. Check out the website for local showings.

May 9, 2011

Mindfulness Revolution (Book Review)

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:14 pm by DivineShantiYoga

Add this book to my “top 10 favorites”; Mindfulness Revolution, written by a collection of authors and edited by Barry Boyce and Shambhala Sun. I’ve just finished this one, and what makes it one of my favorites is the fact that each chapter is written by a different author, teacher, artist, psychologist or scientist. Each contributor displays their personal experience or expertise in the realm of mindfulness, and shows simply how to incorporate this practice into our daily lives.

Mindfulness meditation practice is tapping into our innate ability to be completely present and aware of what we are doing, what sensations we feel, and where our thoughts are. It is being aware, without judgment. This practice teaches us how to fully live in the moment, with all of its treasures, instead of living our lives on “auto-pilot.” From this, our world opens up to such inner and outer beauty, as the realization of how delicious our every experience blossoms. Practicing mindfulness meditation can release stresses, generate greater gratitude, and make us more aware of our interconnectedness to one another and to our earth.

I believe that in our day and age, these basic lessons of practicing mindfulness is much needed to bring greater awareness to how simplicity and joy enters our every moment, and how we can be more mindful of our impact upon each other and the earth we share. The title makes this message perfect. Enjoy this excellent read, with authors such as Jon Kabat-Zinn, Thich Nhat Hanh, Pema Chodron, Daniel Seigel, MD, Joseph Goldstein, and even His Holiness, The Fourteenth Dalai Lama.

Chapters include basic mindfulness instructions, and how to incorporate this practice into every day; while eating, shopping, cooking, living with chronic pain, healing from trauma, parenting, and even being mindful in our ever-changing world of digital technology. This is one of those books where you can pick it off the shelf, or keep at hand in your kindle at any time to read a chapter as a “happy reminder” that we are surrounded by simple joy by living life.

May 5, 2011

Hope and Right Action

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:44 am by DivineShantiYoga

I was blessed enough to watch yet another joy-filled public speech by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama yesterday via live web stream, as he was presented the “Shine A Light On Human Rights” award by Amnesty International in Southern California. Amnesty International is an organization that has been relentlessly gaining efforts for the past fifty years toward human rights and integrity for all.

His Holiness began his speech addressing the world with the words “Thank you, brothers and sisters….” He went on to prove the point that as individuals, we are in many ways more powerful than our government to promote human rights and peace throughout. He gave encouragement, stating that individuals have a strong sense of creativity and passion toward issues, thus having a greater potential to contribute to making a change for our world.

The Dalia Lama continued, stressing that “We are all the same human being, all over the world, and make no discrimination. Generosity also means giving people protection and freedom from fear, for that is our human right.”

While accepting this award, he honored those who have been striving for equal human rights all over the world. He graciously stated “Determination and constant action, continuously making an effort toward peace and human rights will form results…no matter how difficult, no matter how many obstacles, we must continue with action. Failure doesn’t matter…keep working continuously.” For me, these words apply to most successes. Small failures may lead us to a different path, but world peace and human rights are important aspects of our human race.

In response to a question about the situation in China, he profoundly shared “China belongs to China’s people, not to a (political) party. We must continue to reach students, professors and intellectuals with truth. All Chinese people will have the right to judge what’s right and wrong. For two centuries, they have been our neighbor and instead of friendship, they want to create fear. The importance here is in creating friendships.”

A long-time Islamic member of Amnesty International asked His Holiness how he thought that Islamic American citizens could re-gain respect amongst Americans after the terrorist attacks of September 11th. The Dalai Lama lightly chuckled at the absurdity of American’s generalization that the entire Muslim community would be involved with such an act. He responded by stating “Since 9/11, we cannot generalize all Muslim, or Islamic community as terrorists-it’s unfair. Genuine followers of the Koran do not create bloodshed. These who believe in bloodshed are in “inner conflict” with themselves, which happens in all religions.” He shared with light humor, how he was invited to share a meal with a Muslim colleague and he was fed the most delicious Islamic-prepared tea and food, even though he is a Buddhist. “That kind of separation of individuals because they are Muslim, or Buddhist is out-dated and must change. We are all a human race.”

One lucky 9th grader had the privilege of asking His Holiness a question as well. He wanted to know what the youth can do about bullying. His response “That is a difficult question. We all know them (bullies), but to try to tell a bully what to do. (laughs) All these problems, I feel are because we lack education-we lack respect for one another and lack knowledge that we are one. To fix this, we need to pay more attention in education on how to build niceness.  All of this is part of moral ethics and principles. Further investigate one’s motivation and inner quality. Thankfully we have laws for human rights. Get the law enforcement involved.  If someone is bullying you, then fight back. (more laughter)”

After talking more about the freedom of Tibetans, His Holiness completed his speech with what I think is a lovely, promising statement. “I believe that in the near coming years, even as I am almost 76 years old and have gray hairs here, (attempting to pinch hair on his head, then moving to his eyebrow) and here, that I will continue to see more peace…in Tibet and all over the world. It is because of your enthusiasm.”

As a clear sign of his appreciation, he gave an enduring “thank you” to all who awarded him of this honor and assisted him off the stage, leaving us all with a feeling of warmth and hope.

May 3, 2011

Fun Local Events in May

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:45 am by DivineShantiYoga

Tuesday, May 3rd – Yoga & Running meets every Tuesday evening led by Jessica King and Balance Wellness Center. (beginners welcome)!/event.php?eid=194825877220642

Thursday, May 5th – “Bird’s Tail” Beginners Tai Chi 8 week series begins at Lotus Living Arts Studio in Concord at 7:30pm.

Friday, May 6th – Live Music/Arts in NoDa for Grand Re-Opening of Salvador Deli 7pm-1am.

Also May 6th– Opening Day for the documentary “I AM” by Tom Shadyac at Regal Manor Twin theater on Providence Rd.

Saturday, May 7th – Mothers Day date with your child-crafting and mimosas for Mom at Trashed– A Creative Recycling Studio in Downtown Concord. 10am-12pm $35/pair!/pages/Trashed/186307178071691

Monday, May 9th– Laughter Yoga for Relationships- Bring a partner/friend for guided laughter yoga led by Yogi Ranjit at Parks & Recreation Center on Euclid Ave. Charlotte at 6:30pm (no yoga experience necessary)

Saturday & Sunday, May 21st, 22nd – Drumstrong! Drumming and Yoga for a cure to cancer. Weddington Rd. (South of Charlotte)

Monday, May 23rd – Power Vinyasa Yoga at Gotta Yoga Studio in University Area with Tamal Dodge from 6-8pm.

May 2, 2011

May is National Meditation Month

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:38 am by DivineShantiYoga

May is national meditation month! Whether you already have a consistent meditation practice, or would like to begin one, the benefits are endless; including relief from stress, pain, and feeling “stuck”. Allow yourself just five minutes to start meditating, and build up time from there.

Here are some more helpful tips:

1.) Give yourself permission to have the time allotted just for you. Tell yourself “there is nothing else I need to be doing right now.”

2.) Begin by drawing your full awareness to your breath. Take deep breaths through the nose, and just be an observer as it flows throughout your body.

3.) Greet resistance with love, including distracting thoughts. Maybe even “thank” the thoughts for creeping into your mind, then let them go, bringing your full awareness back to your breath.

4.) Mindfulness meditation is not trying to “not think”, or trying to think about anything in particular. It is a practice of just being present and observing what sensations arise in the body and mind, letting go of judgment, and allowing thoughts to float on by, like clouds floating across the sky.

Create a sacred space in your home or yard without distraction where you can practice meditation. Allow the body to be comfortable, whether it is sitting, lying down, standing or walking slowly. This can become the most important five minutes of your day, as you teach yourself to let go of stress. Having a consistent meditation practice actually transforms your natural way of perceiving obstacles as they enter your life, accepting them with greater ease and appreciation.