Posts by Leila Darragh

In Nature

Posted by on Aug 12, 2013 in Featured, Quotes & Thoughts, Uncategorized | Comments Off on In Nature

In Nature

(Image: ‘Nature’ by dan/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net) Last month, I went to the Om festival in Collingwood . For one week, a temporary community camps in a beautiful forest, and works cooperatively to create the event. Everyone who attends is required to participate in the collective vision. Even meals are communal. Spending 5 consecutive days in the forest with nothing to do but be is complicated. As in other years, I grappled with the absence of urgency and purpose my urban existence demands. Without the ceaseless waves of doing pushing and pulling me in a tidal frenzy, I am left feeling sore, vulnerable, and at times lonely. Yet, day by day, the barriers built up by city living peel off; at times, whole walls collapse into a shivering heap of ash at my feet. And the forest, in its infinite presence and murmuring silence, holds the space for this opening, this deepening of connection with self. A literal understanding of “spending time in nature” is to dwell within one’s own nature. Being in nature is not simply the act of wandering through a park, it is about wandering through oneself. The so-called natural world invites this connection because it exists in perpetual presence. Trees dwell in their nature, as do flowers, squirrels, raccoons, bumblebees, and blue jays. Nature is not something that happens somewhere outside the confines of our houses, streets or cities; nature is within us, it is what we are. My invitation to you is to spend time in your nature. This can mean being in a presence-ful environment such as a park, or beach, or forest; practicing prayer, or still or moving meditation; singing; dancing; even laying down in a quiet room and simply feeling your feelings. Exploring and becoming intimate with the world within you ultimately opens you to the world around. Spending time in your nature brings you home to the deeply interconnected reality of...

Read More

Notes on a Cleanse

Posted by on Jun 19, 2013 in Featured, Health, Quotes & Thoughts, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Notes on a Cleanse

Notes on a Cleanse

We recently co-ordinated a community-wide cleanse at Source Centre . I created a guideline of foods to eat or avoid, along with some tips regarding lifestyle and approach. We constructed a wall display in the form of a vegetable garden; if someone signed up for the cleanse, they would put their name on a construction paper vegetable, and place it on the wall, signifying their commitment. To my delight, over 25 people signed on to cleanse in some way. This result in itself was very encouraging, as many folks broke out of their comfort zone and agreed to cleanse for the first time. It was inspiring and heartening to witness that courage in the face of many deterrents and fears. Food is a sensitive subject, and bears emotional and psychological weight in our lives. Agreeing to change our eating habits is agreeing to change some deeply habitual aspects of ourselves. The most profound results came about midway through the cleanse. Personally, I had more energy, my skin was brighter, and I felt mentally clear. However, two participants in particular had wonderful results that exceeded my expectations and hopes. The following are testimonials from these participants: The first thing I noticed was a significant reduction in bloating, both in my face and around my stomach area. My skin became very clear. I received a number of comments that my face looked “brighter”. I didn’t have any cravings for meat or wheat products. The lighter meals satisfied my hunger and didn’t leave me feeling bloated and uncomfortable. I found I had more energy also. -Rose I had low expectations for this cleanse – it was an idea I’d played with for years but never got around to trying. Leila’s advice was gentle and precise: “you can do it if you want to.” And I did, so I did. Having committed for one week, I told myself I would try for two. The hard part was getting organized for such a drastic shift in diet (I’m an unashamed carnivore) and staying on top of it, but the results were encouraging and immediate. I was more alert, lighter on my feet and emotionally consistent. I woke up earlier each day, ahead of my alarm, ready for the world. By the second week I felt so in tune with my body and empowered by a growing awareness of my body’s wants and needs (many of which I’d previously confused with one another) that it became difficult to imagine reverting back to my old indulgent ways, so I extended the cleanse into a third week. -Phil What is inspiring about these testimonials is that both of these participants had never cleansed before! And yet, they had almost immediate results, and a noticeable shift in energy, appearance and perspective. Cleansing provides so many benefits, not the least of which is learning to listen to your body, and get in touch with your real needs and tastes. The miraculous thing about resetting via a cleanse is that you often realize you don’t want those so-called addictive foods in the first place. The clarity in your body and mind become a state worth maintaining, and a great testing ground for noticing what you truly crave. Being in nature is another great way to get in tune with your body, and calm your mind. Spending time in nature daily is a great way to cleanse your thoughts and reconnect with what matters. This summer, continue to embrace refreshing yourself with a nutritious and fortifying diet, and lots of time...

Read More

Nourish Your Life

Posted by on Apr 17, 2013 in Featured, Health, Quotes & Thoughts, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Nourish Your Life

Nourish Your Life

I’ve recently been reading a fascinating and enlightening book entitled “Healing Wise” by renowned herbalist Susun Weed. In it, she contrasts the Heroic and Scientific traditions with what she calls the “Wise Woman” tradition. The Wise Woman tradition heals by nourishing, and therefore its medicines are living foods (meaning unprocessed, whole, and wild). In the midst of our community Refresh at Source Centre, I am reflecting on the phenomenon of detoxing, and the greater paradigm in which such a practice is situated. Often, we approach detoxing, cleansing or dieting as a process of subtraction. We “cut” things out, usually things which we consider pleasurable (although guilt-inducing). We forbid ourselves the indulgence of these guilty pleasures–the complex carbs, the sugary treats, the fried or fatty foods–all of which give us pleasure through taste. I call this a deprivation model. There is a penitent element which constricts or even punishes desire, to achieve the higher purpose of purity. This is why, in my view, people find detoxing painful, difficult, and pleasure-less. This is why people “fail” at diets, or cannot sustain the shift in their physicality brought on by dieting or cleansing. This approach breeds resistance, rigidity and disempowerment. In other words, the deprivation model which holds subtraction as its primary action does not, and cannot, feed the individual in a meaningful and sustainable way. Of course, the foods these diets promote are often greatly nutritious and beneficial to the body. It is all in the paradigm and perspective one inhabits that determines the experience of such a commitment. We can impose change upon our external habits, but sustained transformation arises from within, from a paradigm of empowerment, abundance and resolve. (see last week’s Resolve blog). Ross Bridgeford, alkaline diet coach, recently touched upon this in a video posted on his website. In shifting ones diet towards alkalinity (meaning foods that are the opposite of acidic, and therefore promoting long term wellbeing) Ross advises that, rather than remove acidic foods from the diet, we instead simply add alkaline foods. By adding alkaline foods, such as organic greens, fresh fruits and vegetables, and alkaline water, the body increases its intake of essential nutrients without rules and restrictions. The yet more enlightening result, according to Ross, is that this process of adding nutrition provides the subconscious with the chance to “catch up” with the conscious mind, and become aligned with what really nourishes. The bodymind then gradually and voluntarily adopts alkalinity; the cravings for acidic foods are relinquished, and the hunger for nutritious, living foods enhanced. This result suggests that nourishment empowers, and deprivation weakens. A healthy diet however goes far beyond what we physically ingest. We can and do nourish (or deprive) ourselves with our thoughts, beliefs and actions . We are nourished by possibilities: of doing things differently, taking risks, experimenting, even “failing.” When we take a risk, we actually call something new into existence. When we nourish, we empower ourselves to be the answer to our own prayers. In the words of poet Galway Kinnel, “everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing”.  I hope that today and for all the days to come, you live this...

Read More

Resolve

Posted by on Apr 9, 2013 in Featured, Health, Quotes & Thoughts, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Resolve

Resolve

A choice, irrespective of whether it is based on reasons why, comes from an individual resolve.  According to the the Vedas, the ancient spiritual texts of India, Sankalpa, or resolve, is the single most important element for an individual on their path. Resolve is the anchoring intention that holds one steady through the internal storms of confusion, doubt, resistance, rationalization and fear. I believe that resolve is beyond will power. Resolve is the confluence of universal and personal truth; it is awareness that strikes into action. Will power alone predicates itself on rules or restrictions, as in “I will not eat sugar anymore!”. These are external boundaries that emanate from the mind of the individual, holding them captive. When we make such declarations, we are exporting our power into external boundaries. Resolve on the other hand emanates from within, as a silent, but powerful choice: “I am honouring and celebrating life by nourishing myself.” Where will power can be severe, or constricting, resolve is an act of love. Resolve lives in the heart. Over the past few weeks as I have been ruminating on this topic, I’ve witnessed many inspiring stories of personal resolve from friends, and acquaintances. A common element that arose in every story was that none of these individuals committed to restricting themselves with rigid rules. They each held a personal intention, but also allowed themselves the freedom to act spontaneously. One friend whose intention was to quit smoking began noticing a subtle inner sense of repugnance for smoking, even when he indulged the urge. He increasingly began to identify with that quiet sense until he felt an unequivocal repugnance for cigarettes and quit successfully. Another friend had been practicing veganism for a little while, but allowed herself to indulge in KFC, after which she felt quite ill, and has not craved KFC since. Resolve extends from a paradigm of freedom and abundance. Creating external rules suggests that we do not trust ourselves with our choices. I’ve often heard people use language like “I’m not allowed,” “I can’t,” or “I’m not supposed to” with regards to lifestyles that they themselves have engineered. What I’ve also observed is that some folks are reticent about making commitments for fear of failure or mistake. Resolve has nothing to do with success or failure. Resolve weathers “slips” and continues to stand, to shine. Nor does it become dogmatic or punishing. Resolve empowers the individual with an awareness of their capacity for integrity, responsibility, resilience. It lives within each human being as a seed potential. It lives within you. As a gesture of my own resolve, I will share with you a recent commitment I have made. I have chosen to no  longer participate in factory farmed animal products. Because I made this choice from a place of love and reverence for life, I feel freer and more empowered when I contemplate it. It is my personal resolve to “be the change,” in Gandhi’s words. I share it with you as a gesture of faith in your own capacity for integrity, peace, and...

Read More

There is Enough

Posted by on Nov 20, 2012 in Featured, Quotes & Thoughts, Uncategorized | Comments Off on There is Enough

There is Enough

Recently, I joined the online traveler’s network, CouchSurfing.com. I was preparing for a trip to London, U.K, a location I had never traveled to, and was therefore lacking contacts in. While browsing the network for available hosts (an activity that felt eerily like creeping an online dating website) I came upon a review for a potential candidate. I was so taken by the reviewer’s warm words, and, upon visiting his page, his fascinating views and interests, that I decided to contact him. Since then, we have become good penpals. I look forward to receiving his emails (he is currently away from his hometown of Seattle, travelling through Europe and full of touching and exciting stories of his travels), and I am moved by how sincerely open we both are, as relative strangers. Now, being hundreds of thousands of miles apart may be just the buffer to enable real openness in a culture that often feels estranged. Indeed, at our nearest in daily life here in Toronto, it seems we are the most alienated (think of a packed subway car at rush hour, and the multitude of averting eyes). And yet, the longing for intimacy is palpable. I am frequently endeared to strangers, but I don’t always reach out to them with a smile or acknowledgement. I often puzzle over this hesitation about the innate desire to connect. It seems that protection is the action fear advises when confronted with intimacy. It is easy to feel safe when distant enough from others to be less than visible. However, the impulses of protection or defensiveness are rooted in the belief that there is not enough within us or for us to be truly seen and received as such. At the heart of the Shambhala tradition, a secular revisioning of the core Tibetan Buddhist teachings evolved by Choygam Trungpa Rinpoche, is the idea of basic goodness; it states that the foundation of everything is a goodness without foil, without opposite. In my experience, committing to this truth is like tapping into a limitless spring; it is about a deep and inalienable knowing that there is enough. If there is anything my own journey has taught me it’s that perspective is key; if we hold to the belief that there is not enough then we will invite and act out that reality. It is truly up to us what kind of world we wish to live in. And we have the power to choose. So, why not choose abundance? Why not choose basic goodness? What if, even in our day-to-day encounters, we could approach each other, and perhaps most importantly ourselves, holding that longing for connection, buoyed by our sense of these innate truths? If I ever meet my penpal face-to-face, I will choose to hold this abundance in my heart. Perhaps the next time you get on the subway, you will choose to share a smile or kind word with a...

Read More