« August 2007 | Main | October 2007 »

September 2007

September 24, 2007

International Peace Day: September 21st

International Peace Day is celebrated every year on September 21st. It in designated as a worldwide movement to create a Global Ceasefire and day of peace and nonviolence.

In Ojai, we have supported this vision by creating a 3-day celebration: Living Peace in Ojai.

On Friday, the 21st, the Ojai Peace Coalition gave it’s local Noble Peace Prize. It went to Clive and Marion Lehman, who started a weekly Peace Vigil after the 2004 elections.

As they were telling their story, the story of the vigil, and sharing stories of Peacemaking, I thought about a war that we humans prefer to ignore; organized global terror about which it’s more comfortable to remain in denial...

This organized terror is the wanton — deliberate and unprovoked — premeditated murder of animals by humans for food and clothing. These factory farms are not better than concentration camps.

• 232 million cattle are slaughtered each year. • 1.1 billion hogs are slaughtered each year. • 470.25 million sheep and goats are slaughtered each year. • 17.5 billion chickens slaughtered each year. • 1.1 billion turkeys slaughtered each year. • 10 billion are slaughtered in research each year.

This is a grand total of 20,400,000,000 (twenty billion) animals murdered each year for food.

Now, what about clothing?

• 335,000 harp seals were murdered — mostly clubbed to death — in Canada for their soft white fur in 2006.
• 85,000 nursing harp seal pups were stabbed to death in Namibia in 2006.
• Many 100s of thousands of cows, buffaloes, sheep and goats are murdered for their skins in India.
• The list goes on and on, including deer, alligators, crocodile, toads, ostriches, kangaroos, lizards, snakes, dogs, cats and exotic animals raised in tiny pens,

These animals are our fellow beings on this planet. Our fellow earthlings. Our total disrespect for other species is one of the contexts, one of the behind the scenes attitudes, that allows us, by default, to look to solve our human conflicts with violence.

As long as their are slaughterhouses, there will be battlefields.
-Leo Tolstoy

If you are having a reaction to what I’ve said so far... If you’re thinking that you need to eat meat for protein... If you think that we are omnivores or carnivores... If you think that eating a little bit of meat once and awhile is ok...

Take 90 minutes and watch a movie called Earthlings. You can watch or download it on Google Video (click here...).

It’s intense. And, I’m strongly suggesting that you watch it. It’s crucial that we know who we are; that we know what we do. When you eat meat, or drink milk you need to know where it comes from. You need to know what you’re supporting with each bite.

What there is to notice while watching this film is not only the way we treat our fellow beings. What’s just — and maybe more important is who we have become as a species. We have become the workers in the slaughterhouse, we have become who is required to sustain a diet filled with animal products. We have dissociated from our actions.

There is no escape. Victim and perpetrator are both equally affected; though affected differently. In the case of animals, they may have it easier. They suffer and die. We suffer and live, carry it on. Pass it on. Pass on looking the other way. Pass on living in denial.

So, how to extricate oneself from voting with your dollars and your teeth to continue this culture of premeditated murder?

Become a vegan. Stop eating all animal products. No flesh products. No dairy products. No egg products.

It’s a line in the sand. A line of demarkation in being responsible for the health of your mind and your body. A line that says NO to the agribusiness and pharmaceutical control in your life. A line that says NO to treating our fellow earthlings with such total disregard.

September 23, 2007

IBS may be improved with treatment for Celiac Disease

A recent study looked at patients with celiac disease and with IBS characterized by diarrhea. It found that a whopping 72% of patients with IBS characterized by diarrhea became symptom-free as a result of a gluten free diet.

Gluten is present in many unexpected places, and elimination can be challenging. Here are two resources for living gluten-free, if you decide to try it:
Celiac Disease Foundation
and celiac.com

If you fit into this category of patients, your doctor can run two specific tests: IgA and IgG antibodies against gliadin and tissue-transglutaminase and HLA-DQA1*0501/DQB*0201 expression. These tests are used to diagnose celiac disease. However, in the study above, 12% of patients with IBS tested negative, and would therefore be told they did not have celiac disease and therefore would not be advised to try a gluten-free diet.

Even if the patient does not fit the medical profile for celiac disease, abstaining from all gluten may produce a reduction or elimination of symptoms.

Full article here.

*Comments closed due to excessive spam.*

September 20, 2007

USDA list of food contamination: E. Coli, Botulism, Salmonella, Listeria, Staphylococcus

A package of Dole salad mix that tested positive for E. coli recently triggered a recall in at least nine states, prompting new produce fears almost exactly a year after a nationwide spinach scare.

Last year, an E. coli outbreak traced to bagged baby spinach sold under the Dole brand was blamed for the deaths of three people and for sickening hundreds more across the U.S. Authorities eventually identified a central California cattle ranch next to spinach fields belonging to one of Dole’s suppliers as being the source of the bacteria.

I wonder how many other incidents of contaminated food products there are...

I went to the CDC to see about other E. coli outbreaks. The Previous one listed is the Dole spinach incident in Sept 2006. One I hadn’t heard of concerned Taco Bell and lettuce in November 2006.
A link led me to www.fightbac.com where I found this:

According to public health and food safety experts, each year millions of illnesses in this country can be traced to foodborne bacteria. While the likelihood of serious complications is unknown, the Food and Drug Administration estimates that two to three percent of all foodborne illnesses lead to secondary long-term illnesses. For example, certain strains of E.coli can cause kidney failure in young children and infants; Salmonella can lead to reactive arthritis and serious infections; Listeria can cause meningitis and stillbirths; and Campylobacter may be the most common precipitating factor for Guillain-Barre syndrome.

I then went to the FSIS website. The Food Safety and Inspection Service of the USDA. There I found quite a list including all of the bacteria listed in the title.

Here’s a link to the current list of open cases: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/FSIS_Recalls/Open_Federal_Cases/index.asp

Here’s a link to this years closed cases:

The lists also include mis-labeling, under-processing, undeclared ingredients, pieces of metal, and a few more.

Looking through the list, I see some commonalities to all the incidents…

They are all either processed animal flesh products or processed leafy green products.

As a vegan I don’t consume any animal products. As a raw vegan who only eats whole, ripe, organic foods, I don’t consume prepackaged leafy greens. They loose water and nutrients along each cut edge, so I only cut or tear them immediately before eating. Because I don’t consume any animal or packaged foods I’ve never paid much attention to the recalls. I am surprised at the number of them that never reach the news - at least the news that reaches me - online and NPR.

Take a look through the list. How many did you hear about?

The number of reported incidents has me wonder about the number of actual contaminations… Do you think that industry and government inspection processes catch 90% of them? 70%? 50%? 25%?

This is government after all…

So, what's the best way to avoid the problem?

Here’s the suggestion from a link on the CDC site:

Consumers can reduce their risk for foodborne illness by following safe food-handling recommendations and by avoiding consumption of unpasteurized milk and unpasteurized milk products, raw or undercooked oysters, raw or undercooked eggs, raw or undercooked ground beef, and undercooked poultry (additional information on food safety for consumers is available at http://www.fightbac.org). Other effective prevention measures, such as pasteurization of in-shell eggs, irradiation of ground meat, and pressure treatment of oysters, can also decrease the risk for foodborne illness. (my emphasis)

They’ve got to be kidding!

Well, that’s your government and food industry speaking.

My suggestion?

Become a raw vegan! If you can’t conceive of that yet, then...

Only use whole leafy greens. Cut them yourself. The couple minutes it takes to clean and cut or tear them will reward you with more nutrient rich food.

If you do eat flesh, only buy whole cuts of flesh. Don’t buy ground meat. Don’t buy processed meats. Just like the greens, all the exposed edges from the cutting and grinding increase the available surface area for exposure to bacteria. Do any processing yourself. Get a meat grinder. If that makes you squeamish, you may want to reconsider your meat eating habit. That burger really is a dead, ground up cow!

September 13, 2007

Raw Vegan Living-Food Lifestyle

Back in the 70’s, a friend was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Disease. We were in our 20’s. This was something that wasn’t supposed to happen — if at all — until much later in life. Weren’t we young and invincible and immortal?

He went to doctors and got their recommendations for treatment; chemotherapy and radiation. He was told that his prospects were good. That with successful treatment, he could expect to live a normal life span. Just before his chemo was to begin, he heard about The Hippocrates Health Institute in Boston. We went to visit during a Sunday open house. There was a talk by a polarity therapist and a buffet dinner of vegetables, sprouts, nut cheeses and other unfamiliar items. Now, I was already a vegetarian at this time, but had never seen this fare before — what they called raw living food. The food was definitely different and interestingly tasty.

During dinner I talked with people who were staying at the institute. THIS was the mind-stopping experience for me. I met people who had been sent home by doctors to die who were recovering their health in a few weeks. I met people who had been bed-ridden for years that were out walking around Boston after weeks on this uncommon dietary program. I met people who had reversed cancer by changing their diet!

Healing by changing one’s diet was not new to me. I had become a vegetarian as an experiment and discovered that my allergies disappeared. I had lived for years on pills and shots to counteract my body’s reaction to some of life’s bounty. This however was way outside of anything I’d seen or even considered possible. I knew that whatever they were doing — no matter how odd it seemed — they were on to something. They understood something about the way the body worked that the rest of the world didn’t.

My friend decided to do the recommended doctor treatments. I decided that I wanted to know more. I went to the Sunday open house for months. I was convinced that this was my next step in creating health.

I went home to New Hampshire and built shelves in all my windows. I bought seeds and trays and dirt. I grew my own wheatgrass, buckwheat greens, sunflower greens, and sprouts to supplement the food from our quarter-acre organic garden.

The first thing I noticed with my new raw living food diet was that my chronic constipation went away. That took about a month. Then my ever-present sinus congestion cleared up. Then I started sleeping less. I was hooked. I felt great and I was on a crusade and I was obnoxious! I told everyone that they were eating wrong. I told them what they should be eating. LOOK AT ME!!! It’s an amazing testament to my friends that they didn’t disown me! After that true believer fire cooled down, I discovered how to co-exist with my fellow humans once again.

Over the next 30+ years the raw vegan diet has been my baseline diet. During those years I struggled with various food addictions and went off the raw diet many times. I always went back. It has been my frame of reference since the early 70’s. Every time I got sick, I returned to raw vegan to get well.

In 1999 I went for a vasectomy to try to save an unhappy marriage. (Go figure that logic out...) The urologist asked how long it had been since I’d had a prostate exam. I said never. He discovered a lump in my prostate. The biopsy was positive. Of course he wanted to operate the next week! NO THANK YOU! I went right back to the raw vegan diet. In a subsequent checkup — about a year later — it was gone.

Before going raw, my wife, Cynthia, was on thyroid medication for 13 years. Her blood tests are now normal. She was on anti-depressants for 10 years. Her mood swings are now normal. Of course, she’d been told that she’d need to be on these medications for life.

We currently run a small intimate raw vegan retreat in Ojai called The Raw Retreat where we share what we’ve learned with people wanting to live this Raw Vegan Living-Food Lifestyle.

Stay tuned for how one raw vegan thinks about the world of health, our relationship with food, and how those intersect with the rest of life.

Cry of the Ancestors

I have been given the gift of reading bodies. This has come out of a career in which I have massaged over 25,000 people. How I came to this work, and the subject of my new book, Cry of the Ancestors, is what this blog is dedicated to. I hope you will find it useful information in your own healing. I hope you will comment on its content so that I will be inspired to write more.This is my first time writing a blog. Is there anyone really out there? I have a published book called Bodies Unbound, Transforming Lives Through Touch, and perform a one woman show based on my book. I have written to heal myself and to tell others the story of that. I am still in the healing field, giving massages, doing Ancestor Work, and co-running a Raw Food Retreat at our home with my husband.

After massaging over 25,000 people in 32 years I have learned a lot about bodies.

I have massaged every kind of person from movie stars to babies. Old women dying of cancer without breasts, men who had been to war with no legs. But mostly I have massaged women. Women struggling with feelings, depression, low self esteem, which seems like the story of everyone at one time or another. My question has always been, what kind of person created that kind of body?

In 2000 I discovered I was reading bodies. I was teaching at the Ojai School of Massage. The students asked if I would show them how I worked with my clients and I agreed to give a demonstration. A table was set up and a woman lay down. She was nervous and holding her legs stiffly. I rocked them showing her how she was holding on.

I told the students how I let go of whatever was going on with me the moment I entered the area surrounding my client. Then I walked around her feeling how it felt to be in her presence. With the woman now on the table I felt fear but that wasn’t unusual given the fact that 20 people were watching her prone body.

I sat down on a stool at her head and placed my fingertips under her neck at the occipital ridge. When I was comfortable I asked her, “What is your relationship with your mother?”
She gasped. Her face contorted with emotions. Slowly it came out that her mother had left the family when she was a baby. She had never known her mother. She’d felt scared and alone her whole life. The whole room united in sympathy for their fellow student. In a heartbeat we had entered the realm of the sacred. It is a place I reach often with my clients. The intimacy of massage seems to be a way in to that world. It comes with taking down the barriers that make us feel separate.

“How did you know to ask about her mother?” one student demanded.

I said, “Look at her feet. Both her feet are pointing to the left. The left side is the side of the mother. She also has a belly that is larger than the rest of her. The belly is the physical representation of the mother. The navel is where we were first attached. Her shoulders are rounded protecting her heart. A person like this would live passively, not daring to reach our and form new relationships that might abandon her again.

“That’s exactly how I feel. That’s exactly how my life has been,” the girl whispered, excited about finally having the words to describe her experience. We all hugged her one by one. She accepted the hugs in a daze. The shock of meeting her experience with her mind both startled and thrilled her. She entered the possibility of creating another possibility and living a life with her soul.

I was not allowed to leave that day until I'd read all eighteen students bodies. Sometimes I sat as blank as a post for many minutes, but eventually the body opened and the story of the person, as though unlocked by a key, came pouring out. No one was more surprised than me. By the end of class people were so opened from watching all the others that they would simply lay down and tell their story.

I will never forget the last man I read that day. All day I’d noticed him on the edge of the class not really wanting to participate. Instead of standing close he’d sat in a chair. When he lay down on the table it became obvious that he was deformed; so much for my judgement. He’d sat in a chair because it was difficult for him to stand. His legs and hips were not even. He had been in a motorcycle accident. I told him I couldn’t read his body because of his abnormalities but I would love to hear his story.

He came from an alcoholic family. His father was not communicative or loving but he taught him to ride motorcycles at a very early age. He was scared but loved being with his father. Later in his teens he began using drugs and riding. It was a way to escape everything. The danger of riding while stoned forced everything but the moment out of his mind. When he had the accident he was severely wounded. His pelvis was crushed and the doctors said he’d never walk again. He did walk, but with time he realized he could never have a family. When this became clear he tried to kill himself. He put a gun in his mouth to blow his brains out but at the last possible second he jerked his hand and the bullet went through his cheek shattering his jaw.

He passed out and was horrified to wake up, alive, with half his face blown off. During his long recovery he realized that something within him wanted to live. Something made him jerk his hand. If he’d lived there must be something he had to do. Slowly, during his long recovery, it came to him to become a massage therapist and help other people.

This man had not been popular at the massage school. He was gruff, limped and had a frightening scar on his face. Now everyone was in tears listening to his story. I asked them all to come up and surround him and place their hands on his body. I said to him, “If you are going to give all that love you must receive it too. Look into every face surrounding you and see the love in their eyes. Let that love enter your heart.”

The man on the table stopped breathing. He couldn’t open his eyes. His eyelids fluttered in anxiety. I knew he had received very little love in his life. I know the kind of life that leads to drugs and seeking danger. That kind of life doesn’t let love in. I asked him to breath and when he did, this hardened, angry, terrified and hurt motorcycle riding man looked into the eyes of love itself. As he shyly looked into the faces surrounding him I could feel the angels clapping their wings.

“How can I keep my heart open?” he asked.

“Every day, find someone and ask them to tell you the story of their lives.”

September 11, 2007

Healthy Challenge #2

Here’s a big challenge: Eliminate wheat from your diet for a few days or, even better, a week. When I say wheat I mean everything containing some kind of wheat flour – whole wheat, white flour, semolina, durum and even wheatberries – and anything with wheat derivatives in it, like tamari, seitan and couscous.

So why would you do this?

Wheat allergies, sensitivities and intolerances can lead to a wide range of health problems including headaches, joint pain, postnasal drip. Consuming wheat may lead to weight gain. Medical studies are beginning to point to wheat as a possible cause or contributing factor in Type II diabetes, autism and ADD and even Alzheimer’s. There are studies showing violence in prisons declines substantially when wheat and wheat derivatives are removed from the inmates’ diets. My mother suffered with frequent migraine headaches for 50 years. When she eats a wheat-free diet, she has almost no headaches. I notice when I eat wheat I feel bloated immediately and the feeling lasts 24 hours.

Wheat-related issues can take up to three days to appear, so take the Healthy Challenge and take wheat out of your diet for 5 – 7 days. You’ll be surprised how good you feel!

There are lots of products on the market that substitute other flours for wheat. You should know that both kamut and spelt are types of wheat and may cause similar reactions.

There's a great brown rice pasta called Tinkyada. You can find it at most health food stores.

I find that I prefer to leave bread off the menu rather than eat something that doesn't taste like the breads I love. I just don't need so much bread!

September 06, 2007

Mindful Life Women's Groups

It is a well known fact that women thrive on genuine support from other women. Many seek out the heartfelt support from a small group of women, where they can discover and express their innermost truths and be encouraged in their personal and spiritual growth.

The Mindful Life is a unique women’s group experience where women focus on self awareness and present moment living in order to live more authentically, powerfully and creatively. Members are encouraged to live mindfully, listen to their inner guidance, learn the lessons from their life challenges, break habitual thought patterns that no longer serve them, and experience greater presence and appreciation for life.

Each session of The Mindful Life meets weekly in Ojai for 6 weeks, and is facilitated by Brook Montagna, LMFT, Mindful Life Coach. Brook has over 15 years experience in teaching, mentoring, counseling, and coaching women in the art of mindful living. She is also a skilled group facilitator, and each group member is supported in ways that are most meaningful to her. Prior members of The Mindful Life have described the benefits of participation in the group as: “grounding, calming, insightful, motivating, inspiring, and transformational.”

The known benefits of mindful living include improved mood and health, greater focus and clarity, and greater acceptance of self and others. In the words of spiritual master Thich Nhat Hanh, “Mindfulness is the miracle by which we master and restore ourselves.” Mindful Life Group members are encouraged to learn and apply mindfulness practices and the wisdom of great spiritual masters to the reality and specifics of their own lives – career, relationships, health, and finances – to achieve greater balance and inner peace.

Currently, there are two groups of The Mindful Life that will begin on September 12. The meeting times are 9-11 AM, or 3-5 PM. Group size is small so early registration is advised. If you are interested, please call Brook at 805-640-2445, or email brook@mindfullifecoach.com.