Sunday, November 29, 2009

Find Your Self

I recently started meditating, counting my breath, sitting in a quiet room and trying not to think about anything. And you know something? It’s not as easy as it sounds. In fact, you try it. Try sitting still, with your legs folded over each other, your eyes half-closed and unfocused, willing your mind to banish any outside thoughts from entering it. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

You probably discovered very quickly that thoughts, distractions and outside interferences overwhelm your ability to focus, to render your mind a blank slate, to meditate on nothing. And that’s okay, I warned you that it was challenging, maybe even impossible. But that’s not the point of why I meditate, why I sit in a room by myself and try to focus on nothing. I do so to find self. And I have discovered, through trial and error, research and reading, that to find self you have to first lose self.


“Huh?” is right. But it’s a good kind of huh, one that makes you think, makes you take note, makes you intrigued, I hope. Makes you want to read on. Or, better yet, watch:


I often talk about the TRIAD OF BALANCE, what I refer to as the continuous process of maintaining the harmonic balance between the mind, body, and spirit. I have found that when I have all three of these essentials working and in harmony with one another, then I am at my strongest and happiest, enjoying the most effective way of living my life to its fullest. If one of my big three is out of whack, but the other two are still strong, while I may feel a bit off and not my complete self, I can still do most of what I need to do…only not all of what I want to do to be all that I need to be. That is why finding that balance, working on the mind, body, and spirit all the time, is one of the main focuses in my life, this blog, and my video site.

So to strengthen my spiritual side, after working, of course, on my intellectual and physical areas, I decided I needed to lose self first…to find self later.

Okay, Mike, how does one lose self?

Glad you asked. Meditation is a good start. Let’s go back to trying to not allow any thoughts to invade your mind while you sit still with your eyes half-closed. Even though this is a difficult task, it is possible…if you focus on everything BUT your own thoughts while doing it.

Ummm, you lost me.

Got back to your quiet place, sit, focus, and try not to think. Only this time, if a thought tries to weasel its way into your mind, just gently push it aside. Then, while trying not to let YOUR thoughts back in, allow your mind the freedom to let everything else in.


Hold on, I’m getting there. Notice your surroundings. The sound of the clock on the wall, the wind rustling the leaves or tinkling your wind chimes. A car passing by. Your refrigerator rumbling into life. Everything else but YOUR thoughts. Make sense?

Kind of. But what’s the point?

The point is, by allowing the outside world in, while trying to eliminate your internal thoughts, you have, in a small way, lost your self. And this, in a larger sense, helps you find your self.

Finding self goes a long way toward finding your spirituality. And that helps balance your triad.

Hey, by the way, how did you maintain your triad of balance while you were on vacation last month?

Funny you should ask.


Until next time…



Thursday, November 19, 2009

Pineapple, Anyone?

Even though I have returned to the mainland, back to my happy routines and the colder weather, my thoughts often shift to those tropical days on my lanai, with the wind and surf serenading my aloha spirit, and the taste of fresh island fruit, like pineapple, dancing on my tongue. With that in mind, please enjoy my latest video effort:




Monday, November 9, 2009

What Is Papaya?

Whenever I have the good fortune to visit the Hawaiian Islands, I take the opportunity to indulge in as many of the local delicacies as possible, be it Maui Onions or locally grown avocados. There are few things I enjoy more than taking my morning walk, enjoying the always perfect weather, and checking out the farmer’s market for produce that I don’t normally eat here on the mainland. Over the next few weeks I will be showcasing many of the diverse fruits and veggies that, while not all native to Hawaii, seem to be abundantly available there. Wonderful and tasty finds like star fruit, pineapple, passion fruit, and today’s topic: Papaya.

Many of you, I’m sure, have eaten papaya, have enjoyed its succulent flavor (like a peach, but different) in smoothies, juices, or diced in a tropical fruit salad. While some of you may have led a more conservative dietary lifestyle and never ventured deeper into the produce aisle to discover this amazing fruit, perhaps others are like me, needing a trip to a tropical paradise to awaken those salivary glands and indulge in diversity. Whatever category you fall under, papaya is not only delicious, but one of the most nutritious fruits in the world.

But how do you eat one?

Though you’d never ask.


Papayas are grown in most tropical climates, but did you also know:


1. picked while still hard and green (like the avocado), they turn a pretty amber when ripe enough to eat
2. the seeds have a peppery taste and are often dried and ground up and used as a seasoning
3. loaded with the enzyme papain: which aids in digestion, can tenderize meats, and even is used to treat cuts and burns
4. the leaves of the papaya tree can be eaten as a spinach-like vegetable and also dried and used to make tea
5. have more vitamin C than apples or oranges
6. Christopher Columbus called papaya the “fruit of the angels”
7. loaded with antioxidants, potassium, folate, papayas are great for the immune system and may help fight cancer and heart disease
8. they have been used for both promoting fertility and preventing it, depending on what culture you consult
9. when eaten while drinking green tea, papaya may also help prevent prostate cancer
10. one of the healthiest low calorie/high fiber foods you can eat

I always feel like kicking myself whenever I get my hands on a papaya and cut one open, not because they are difficult to eat (you know they aren’t, if you watched the video), but because I realize, the second my taste buds scream with pleasure, that it’s been too long since I last had one. But before I did the research for this post, I had no idea how foolish I’d been not to include papaya in my regular diet—they literally are, pound for pound, one of the best things you can eat because they are loaded with enzymes, extensive amounts of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, and lycopene.


Here are a few ways to include more papaya into your diet:

· juices
· smoothies
· salads
· salsa
served with fish
jams and jellies
· curries
· stews
· or just raw

So, what is papaya?

A tasty, nutritious, versatile, and amazing fruit that you should make an effort to discover and add to your dietary regimen. I know I am going to.

Until next time…



Sunday, November 1, 2009

Veg Out, Maui Style!


Er…I mean, greetings from the mainland. I am back from my wonderful trip across the Pacific, where my lovely wife and I enjoyed several laid back days of doing all those things we wish we could do during the “real” moments of our lives. Not that lounging on the beach, catching the sun’s rays, reading for pleasure and enjoyment, gazing meditatively at the ocean as if it held all the answers in the world, with nary a thought inside one’s head except where should we dine that evening are not “real” moments. It’s just that the reality of returning from mid-80’s weather to overnights in the 40’s, as well as awakening to the sound of the alarm clock and the angst of facing that day job are a tad bit lower on my “things I love to do” list than hanging out in Maui.

But life goes on, and I am thankful and lucky that I love my life here at home almost as much as the fantasy one I just left. Not that my vacation was all play and no work. While away I was focused, as I constantly am, on balance, especially managing my triad of balance: the harmonious union between the Mind, Body, and Spirit.

I was able to write daily, along with reading tons of articles and other interesting data that I am unable to catch up on during my hectic “regular” life. While somewhat limited physically (due to a troublesome right shoulder--yes, the left one used to be the bad one, but, eh, what can I say, they're a match pair), I still walked daily, often several miles along the convenient beach paths. My wife and I also experienced an incredible day volunteering at an organic farm in the quaint upcountry town of Kula; as soon as I edit all of the video footage I shot, I will share this experience right here and at my video site.

We also ate well, often, and, surprisingly, mostly healthy. One of the things I love best while on the island is the variety of fresh fruits and veggies available at farmer’s markets and grocery stores. Plus, most of the local restaurants prepare their meals with Maui-grown fruits and vegetables, like those my wife and I helped plant on that organic farm in Kula. I shot tons of videos showcasing the unique produce found in Hawaii (lots of new vids coming very soon!), and prepared my latest veg out dish using many of those fresh ingredients.


Replace the butter with olive oil (or another vegetable oil) and the cheese with a vegetable-based cheese, and vegans can also enjoy this tasty dish.

One ingredient I forgot to add were fresh herbs. That scramble, while delicious as it was, could have been enhanced by adding some fresh basil or parsley…or the favorite herb of your choice. Before I left for the islands, I shot this video, which may explain why I had herbs, as well as aloha, on my mind:


I may be back in the “real” world, the timely rhythm of the ocean a faint memory battling with dozens of other thoughts in my head, but all I need to do is close my eyes and I’m back on the island, the smell of Maui onions sautéing on the stove and the aloha spirit permeating my being like a breath of sultry air.

I hope all of your days are filled with everything that you desire them to be.

Until next time…