Category Archives: Resilence

Summer: Wei Wu Wei and The Sweetness of Doing Nothing (Almost)

July 2016

summer

I’m a person who lives by her “to do” list – daily, weekly, monthly and yearly. I’m also a great one for wanting to plan ahead – you know, to avoid the last-minute drama that erupts from procrastination.  Yet for all my planning and preparation, one thing seems to continually escape me:  time.

It’s not that I miss meetings or that I’m late for appointments – my skillful planning takes care of all that. It’s the seasonal things that I seem to miss.  The last time I looked up from my computer it was the New Year.  We had just completed all the fall and winter festivities, concluding with the big Christmas crescendo.  Now I look up and it’s summer!   And before I know it, I’ll glance up again and the blur of Halloween/Thanksgiving/Christmas/Hannukah/New Year will arrive once more.  It’s not that I dislike the holidays; on the contrary, I actually look forward to them.  But it seems that each of them whizzes by me before I even realize they’re here.

So this summer, I’ve decided to embrace the season. I’m making a conscious effort to savor the long, lazy days of what the Italians call Dolce Far Niente – the sweetness of doing nothing  — wait – what – me doing nothing?  Well, almost.

Dolce Far Niente

Niente, I have learned is an active nothing.  It’s not a passive pass at doing zilch; it is not helplessness; rather it is a potent gesture that is active and meaningful. This sounds less indulgent to me, and, dare I say it, somewhat do-able.

The Chinese have a similar phrase Wei Wu Wei, which translates into action through inaction and originates from Lao Tzu’s classic book, Tao Te Ching. Wei Wu Wei more accurately implies natural action – action that does not engage struggle or excessive energy.

wei wu wei

Yet, in our multi-tasking, activity-driven society, this is not easily achieved. The mind wants to be doing something all the time. I know mine does – it’s typing up a project, checking emails and thinking of dinner simultaneously at this very moment.

Exactly how does one achieve doing non-doing? And what are the benefits?

Doing Non-Doing is Powerful

Wei Wu Wei refers to action non-action for things unnecessary. Let’s take a look at a couple of examples.

Plantula-de-chícharo_-Por-harvesttotable_-com

Say you want to grow a plant. Start with some seeds, cover it with nourishing soil, water it, give it sunlight and fertilizer.  Once that is completed, begin the non-doing by leaving the plant alone and let it grow on its own.

The seedlings need time and space to grow. You cannot dig the seed up every day to see if it is sprouting – that would most certainly, if not entirely, impede its growth!  So you can see how in this instance, doing nothing is doing something.

bikers

Here’s another example: riding a bike. You peddle to move the bicycle forward, find your balance, and sit while the bicycle moves on with its momentum. You do nothing, and yet move ahead effortlessly.

Athletes, dancers and artists talk of following their flow,  (link is external)the mental state of being completely present and fully immersed in an undertaking. When in flow, the creator and the universe become one, external distractions retreat from awareness, and one’s mind is fully open and attuned to the present act.  This is Wei Wu Wei, or doing non-doing.   Flow is vital to creativity and well-being across many areas — from sports to music to spirituality and sex.

Just imagine how much more powerful we can be, if we can focus in such manner.

Hammock-2

I’m going to try my own experiment and follow this summer’s invitation to practice Dolce Far Niente and Wei Wu Wei. And if anyone wants to join me, please do, and feel free to share your experiences here with us.

Until next time,

Layne

 

 

Chinese Museum Unveils Jewish Connection

"Girls of the Shanghai Ghetto" by Unknown - http://www.timesofisrael.com/a-young-jewish-girls-escape-from-death-to-idyllic-shanghai-during-world-war-ii/. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Girls_of_the_Shanghai_Ghetto.png#/media/File:Girls_of_the_Shanghai_Ghetto.png
“Girls of the Shanghai Ghetto” by Unknown – http://www.timesofisrael.com/a-young-jewish-girls-escape-from-death-to-idyllic-shanghai-during-world-war-ii/. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia

During World War II, nearly 20,000 Jewish refugees fleeing Hitler, found a safe haven in Shanghai, one of the few places that accepted them without documentation.  Today, visitors to China’s largest city can learn more about this part of Holocaust history and the growing connection between Chinese and Jewish culture at the Shanghai Jewish Refugee Museum.  Recently there’s even been a Chinese-Jewish wedding and Holocaust Music Concert held inside.

The Ohel Moshe Synagogue and two exhibition halls which make up the museum are located at 62 Changyang Road.

Funded by the People’s Government of the Hongkew District, the restoration was completed in 2007.  Pictures and mementos from the 1930s and 40s, including passports, newspapers, an engraved stone, and a short historic film allow visitors a peek into the past. Other exhibits include photos of Refugee Shelters, Jewish Life in Shanghai, and “Little Vienna” — an area of shops and cafes built and frequented by the refugees as a reminder of their European home life.

Among their collection is an extensive database of survivors and descendants.  Information including the refugees’ names, gender, addresses, nationalities, how they came coming to Shanghai, professions, the current countries of residence, photos, and even the survivors’ contact information is available to the public.

For more information, visit:  ShanghaiJews.org.

Until next time,

Layne

5 FOODS TO HELP YOU STAY COOL THIS SUMMER

06.16.14

5 Foods to Help You Stay *COOL* this Summer

summer beach ballsWhen it comes to cooling down, air conditioning or a fan is the first thing people often turn to, but not everyone has that luxury.  Believe it or not, there’s a way to cool yourself down by eating certain foods.  In an article by Devon Brown on TimeOut.com, she speaks to Soho Chinese herbalist and acupuncturist Mia Hatgis (check her out on acumamamia.com), who discusses 5 different foods you can eat to help cool off.

watermelon1.  WATERMELON – When dealing with thirst, low energy, headaches and dizziness, watermelon can help.  Chinese herbalists use watermelon to prevent or recover from heatstroke.  The fruit increases the amount of fluid in the body.  Hatgis states, “Composed of 93 to 96 percent water, watermelon allows the body to generate fluids, maintains electrolyte balance and induces urination, which is a very efficient way of clearing heat from the body.”

mung bean2.  MUNG BEAN – Mung bean is very popular in China — it’s mixed with noodles, rice, cakes and desserts.  Better yet, it’s known to reduce fever and thirst.  Mung beans help the body rid itself of toxins and reduce inflammation, which is especially helpful after a long night of partying or a day filled with consuming fast foods.

 

 

bitter melon3.  BITTER MELON – Bitter melons are valued in Asia for their ability to restore the hot and cold temperatures of the human body.  According to Chinese Medicine, bitter melon is a hot food with cooling benefits.  According to Hatgis, “Frozen or refrigerated foods and beverages tend to weaken digestion, and lead to that sluggish feeling associated with summer days,”  Instead rely on hot foods such as Bitter Melon Stir-fry with Beef, to cool the body.

papaya4.  PAPAYA – Papaya is great for people who find cold foods hard to digest.  “Papaya prevents the lethargy and loos of appetite associated with hot summer temperatures.  It’s full of digestive enzymes that clear inflammation in the body, and  helps drain toxins and generate fluids,” says Hatgis.  Papaya offers the most when it’s consumed raw.

 

cucumber5.  CUCUMBER – Cucumbers are rich in vitamins, alkaloids and chlorophyll.  Additionally, they’re made up of 90% water and replenish electrolytes.  Like the mung bean, cucumbers are antioxidants and anti-inflammatory.  They’re known to help reduce your risk of certain cancers.  Cucumbers not only cool you down, they’re providing your body with substances to live a long and healthy life!

How will you cool down in this summer?

Always,

Layne

Resource:  http://www.timeout.com/newyork/food-drink/get-cool-five-foods-that-will-help-you-cool-down

 

 

8 Tips on Foods that Maximize Spring’s Benefits

04.26.14

Spring is the season of renewal and motion ~ Find out what foods benefit us most!

spring cherry blossomsAccording to Traditional Chinese Medicine, spring is also the season of the liver and the gallbladder. These organs are responsible for normalizing a smooth energy flow through the body and mind.

Here are 8 tips to help you maximize the benefits of spring!

1. lemon waterBefore that first cup of morning tea or coffee, drink warm water with a slice of lemon to detoxify the liver and gallbladder.

 

 

 

mint tea2.  Mint tea throughout the day is a great remedy for soothing liver qi (energy).

 

 

cabbage 3.  In general, spring diets should include foods that are warm and ascending in nature. In the early spring, try cabbage, carrot and beet root. As the weather transforms, move to mint, shitake mushrooms, peas, sunflower seeds, and pine nuts.  In late spring, add cherries.

 

4.  kalePeople who want to lose weight can benefit from consuming foods like kale, Swiss chard, collard greens, parsley, wheat or barley grass juice, and spirulina, These green foods contain rising energy to revitalize the liver.

 

garlic-025.  Help ease the transition of spring’s erratic weather changes (like wind) by increasing your intake of moderately pungent foods like green onions, garlic, ginger, watercress, and mustard greens.  These foods also have strong immune-boosting merits that protect those susceptible to colds, flus, allergies and acute illness.

licorice root6.  Note:  We should be careful not to over stimulate the Liver.  This is especially important if we have a strong and vigorous body type or tendency towards fierceness. Try celery, watercress, lettuce, seaweed and licorice root to cool and calm the Liver yang.  (If these are new foods to your diet introduce them in moderation as they can cause diarrhea.)

 

oats7.  Oats can reduce the effects of wind in spring Also try pine nuts, prawns, ginger, fennel and basil. Later in the season (or if you are more yang) choose celery, mulberry, strawberry and peppermint. Avoid foods such as crabmeat, eggs and buckwheat which exacerbate wind symptoms.

 

asparagus

8. If you’re prone to allergies like itchy, red eyes, post nasal drip, or sneezing, consume foods with a slightly bitter quality.  Rye, romaine lettuce, asparagus, amaranth, quinoa, radish leaves, citrus peel, dandelion, and chamomile have liver cleansing capabilities.  These foods will also benefit red, swollen joints.

Maximizing the benefits of spring promotes wellness for both mind and body!

Until next time,

Layne