Ants and bees – a metaphor

This is an email I received today and I’m putting it on the blog because I like it and what it has to say to all of us. It’s by Madyson Taylor and comes from the Daily Om:

“We can learn a lot from watching ants and bees living in community and working for the greater good.

When we see ants and bees out in the world, we often see just one, but this belies the reality of their situation. More than any other species, ants and bees function as parts of a whole. They cannot and do not survive as individuals; they survive as members of a group, and the group’s survival is the implicit goal of each individual’s life. There is no concept of life outside the group, so even to use the word individual is somewhat misleading. Often, humans, on the other hand, strongly value individuality and often negatively associate ants and bees with a lack of independence. And yet, if we look closer at these amazing creatures, we can learn valuable lessons about how much we can achieve when we band together with others to work for a higher purpose.

Most ants and bees have highly specified roles within their communities, some of which are biologically dictated, and they work within the confines of their roles without complaint, never wishing to be something other than what they are. In this way, they symbolize self-knowledge and humility. They also display selfless service as they work for the common good. In many ways, they are like the individual cells of one body, living and dying as necessary to preserve the integrity of the whole body, not to protect themselves as individuals. In this way, ants personify the ability to see beyond one’s small self to one’s place within the greater whole, and the ability to serve this whole selflessly.

Ants and bees can inspire us to fully own what we have to offer and to put it to use in the pursuit of a goal that will benefit all of humanity, whether it be raising consciousness about the environment, feeding the hungry, or raising a happy child. Each one of us has certain talents we were born with, as well as skills we have acquired. When we apply these gifts, knowing that we are one part of a greater organism working to better the whole world, we honour and implement the wisdom of ants and bees.”

About water

I read a lot of books about health issues and how to look and feel better. A lot of them are about diet and there is a lot of conflicting advice. It can make giving advice to patients a bit problematic because as knowledge and books pile up so some things I have read get discarded and some are retained. It does become apparent that in many instances there is an agenda. Many books and articles are written on the basis of “it worked for me therefore it must be right, and if this is right then everything else is wrong.”
In the end I go with personal experience and suggest to my patients that they do the same thing. I rarely recommend a food supplement or practice I have not used myself.
However there are some things that are basic to health. Hydration is one of those. It is essential to drink enough water for the body to be able to function as it should.
Quite a while ago I read a book, “The Body’s Many Cries for Water” by Dr. F. Batmanghelidj, an Iranian doctor, on this theme. It does make for compelling reading. But personal experience is always the most convincing. Years ago, while I was at college, I made a visit to a chiropractor who was recommended by a friend. He clicked my back and it felt better but he also told me to drink lots of water for the next 24 hours. I did and I couldn’t believe how much better I felt in every way. I had more energy, felt more alert, more balanced emotionally and I actually was aware of feeling happier. I was astonished that just drinking more water could have such an effect.
The book recommends drinking 2 litres of plain water every day. If it’s very warm, drink more. If you are wanting to lose weight or help an existing health problem you should probably drink more. In this cold weather drinking cold water is not inviting but you can just take the edge of it by adding a tiny bit of hot water.
As with every change, do it gradually. If you are drinking very little at the moment, increase the amount over a couple of weeks or so. Give your body time to get used to it.
Another marvellous book on water, and quite different, is “The Hidden Messages in Water” by Masaru Emoto. He has been doing research on water for many years. He found that water from unpolluted and natural sources, such as springs, forms beautiful crystals. But water that is polluted or treated with chlorine is unable to form crystals. This is the water that most of us drink every day.
Water has a memory: homoeopathy is based on this principle. When exposed to loving words water also forms these crystals. Bearing in mind that the human body is largely made up of water, this is important. It makes a difference what we say to each other and to ourselves. I highly recommend this book. It is truly original.

Issues old and new

While wondering what to write about in my blog I looked briefly at the news. My goodness, plenty of issues there!
There’s female genital mutilation, abbreviated to FGM, which was the subject, along with forced child marriage, of a conference in London yesterday, the Girl Summit, hosted by our Government and Unicef.
In order to speak about a subject you have to use words and the words pull the mind where it wouldn’t otherwise want to go. Words give a thing a label and it then becomes part of our consciousness. But the mind, or mine anyway, recoils from contemplating something as barbaric, cruel and abusive as mutilated genitals.
It is reported that 125 million women worldwide have been subjected to this. 170,000 of them are in the United Kingdom. The NSPCC set up a helpline a year ago, which has so far received around 300 calls. Nearly 130 of those were passed on to the police or Child Services.
Mothers and grandmothers, who have themselves been mutilated, do it to their daughters and grand-daughters. It’s apparently part of an ancient tradition. Started by whom? And why? Who first had the idea of doing this to a woman in order to disempower and subjugate her at the most basic level? I wonder who the first victim was, how old she was, and why this happened, and continued to happen and still happens. What a power trip for someone.
Malala Yousafzai, the girl who survived being short in the head by the Taliban because she wanted to go to school, spoke at the conference yesterday:
“Traditions are not sent from heaven, they are not sent from God. (It is us) who make cultures. We have the right to change it and we should change it. Those traditions that go against the health of girls, they should be stopped.”
The “health of girls”, mild words indeed, but what a brave girl she is and what a marvellous role model for girls and women everywhere.
Then there’s the MH17 aircraft that was shot down and the chaos and politicking that has ensued and the rhetoric being thrown around, including that from David Cameron, ever anxious to score points and with his eyes on the General Election next year.
In marked contrast, the Dutch Prime Minister gave a speech which was from the heart and focusing absolutely on the human aspect. It’s worth reading, as an example of a leader of a country who is also, and has remained, a human being. It was reported in the Huffington Post. This is the link: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/07/22/speech-un-mh17_n_5609363.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular
And a bit of humour. My home page, when I turn on the computer in the morning, is BBC News and I found this while looking around: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-trending-28426819
It’s a 3 ½ minute video poking fun at the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, made by a Chinese man with 190,000 followers on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, and it’s been watched in China over 55 million times. It’s a lot of fun and worth a look.

It’s turned out to be about yoga!

My blog is taking a new direction. I am an independent woman, but now I know what I’m doing and where I’m going. I’m no longer, at least for a while, asking the question “What shall I do with the rest of my life?”
That’s a good feeling, a comforting feeling. I practise acupuncture and I teach yoga. I trained in both of those many years ago because I discovered them and made a decision that they would work for me and I could work using both of them for a long time, until I dropped.
The teacher of the style I use in yoga now, Vanda Scaravelli, died around 10 years ago, still practising and teaching – she only ever taught one-to-one – at the age of 91. She wrote a book called “Awakening the Spine”, of which I have a copy. There is a picture of her on the back cover, at an advanced age, in sleeping pose. That means she is lying on her back with her feet behind her head, supporting it, and her hands are under her back, supporting her back, with her palms facing down.
images Vanda Scaravelli
What! I will never do that!
But her yoga is not really about getting into contortions like that one. I think she just loved to get into those positions.
I still love both of the subjects I practise – the yoga and the acupuncture.
I would say that the yoga she taught is above all else about freedom of movement; the freedom of the body to move intelligently and as it wishes. You only have to observe any animal for a very short time to witness freedom of movement and the comfort and appropriateness of that, how it is at one with itself, comfortable in its own skin.
Many of us humans have lost that comfortableness. Yoga helps to direct us back to that, listening to our bodies from within as well as being directed from without by the teacher, or ourselves when we practise. I know it has kept me sane in difficult times. It is a discipline and it does take time and commitment but both of those are good for us and benefit us in lots of ways that we couldn’t or wouldn’t initially think of.
I often combine yoga and acupuncture, for instance if someone comes for acupuncture to help with stress, chronic fatigue or back problems it can be very helpful to use a few basic poses, to help with relaxation or to encourage the muscles to let go of tension.
I have practised yoga for 27 years now. When something feels right you keep doing it.
I’m just off to do a class now.

Raw milk and other things

I’ve just started buying unpasteurised milk. I’ve been reading about the health benefits of raw milk and the loss of those benefits when you drink pasteurised milk. Raw milk contains beneficial bacteria and enzymes, including lactase to help digest the milk. When milk is pasteurised these bacteria and enzymes are destroyed. There are lots of websites giving information, and opinions, on the benefits of raw milk and raw milk products. This is one of them http://www.hookandson.co.uk/RawMilk/index.html and also http://www.westonaprice.org which also has a lot of interesting stuff on diet. Weston Price was an American dentist in the 1930s who visited indigenous peoples all over the world to investigate their ways of eating because he found that they had perfect teeth and bone structure and bodies that were in excellent shape generation after generation. They had no degenerative disease and there were no inherited defects. He put together a diet based on eating what he calls traditional foods, using the principles of the diets of primitive peoples i.e. those living apart from so-called civilisation.  

You can look on the Survival International website http://www.survivalinternational.org/ at the photographs of some of the few remaining indigenous people living in this way. It is striking how healthy they look and how beautiful they are. That is, the ones who have not been moved off their lands and on to Government-run reservations. Then they immediately have problems.

In fact, I used to travel 12 miles to a farm, when my children were very young, to buy raw milk. I mostly made yogurt with it, which meant that it was, of course, no longer raw, but it was delicious and the milk had not been processed in any way except by me.

Now I buy milk from Home Farm on the Goodwood Estate just outside Chichester. I’ve seen the cows in the fields and watched them trundling across the track (while I waited!) on their way to the milking shed. So I know they’re pasture (grass) fed and similarly the lambs which generously provide the meat I buy there. It’s worth looking into the issue of meat from grass-fed animals. The balance of the Omega 3 and 6 fats is as it should be because the animals are eating their natural diet. And of course they’re out in fields instead of being shut up in sheds and eating grain, which is not their natural diet and produces an unhealthy imbalance of essential fatty acids, which then gets passed to us if we consume their products. There’s an animal welfare issue there too. The animals obviously have a better time out in the fields and feel better eating their natural diet. They then live the life of an animal, rather than a food production machine.

There is a growing demand for raw milk and other dairy products. Selfridges in London started selling raw milk but then were stopped by the FSA (Food Standards Agency) who are currently considering the issue of raw milk. At the moment it’s only legally available to buy at the farm where it is produced. However, cheese made from unpasteurised milk is generally available in most supermarkets and certainly in specialist shops and delicatessens and some branches of Waitrose have started selling unpasteurised butter. I got some in Chichester. You can get salted or unsalted; it’s made in France, the label is Isigny Ste Mere and the salt is Guerande, which is untreated sea salt. So it’s good stuff and reasonably priced.

All of these are my personal choices. I’m finding out about and choosing what I want and at the same time supporting what I feel to be right. 97% of the food we buy now comes from the supermarkets. That gives them a lot of power to make choices for us. I think the remaining 3%, coming from farm shops, independent butchers, fishmongers etc, probably needs to grow a bit bigger. I use the supermarket because it is convenient but I also shop elsewhere when they haven’t got what I want or I don’t want what they have got. We are defined by the choices we make, in what we eat as much as in anything else. Let’s hang on to the power of choice. It matters. A lot.