General, Paper

Unicorn in the Sky and Other Magic

Hello there dear!  It’s Bibliotherapy Saturday  and I decided to start today’s exploration with a magazine I don’t usually read.  Ever.  I decided to start with February 2018 issue of Astronomy magazine.  Why you might ask?  Good question!  It’s because there was a hook on the cover that suggested that I could “TOUR Monoceros the Unicorn” on page 60.  I love unicorns.  How could I resist?  Monoceros the Unicorn is the 35th largest constellation out of the 88 constellations and the figure lies within the “Winter Triangle: the stars Sirius, Betelgeuse, and Procyon.”  The short article then has some pictures of and features of the area around the constellation and notes what is special that you can see either with the naked eye under a dark sky or what kind of telescopic enlargement is required.  This kind of night sky exploration is what I had been hoping for when I signed up for a basic astronomy class in college.  Instead, I got a whole lot of physics and math that I didn’t have the background to do and wasn’t sure what any of it meant.  I don’t know about you, but I feel kind of excited about this Unicorn dancing around the Winter Triangle of our night sky!   Recently, I have also come across a number of books and articles that refer to star bathing, which is just like sun bathing, but under the night sky.  While it may be difficult, or even impossible, in urban areas to isolate from other light sources, I have to believe that, with intention, one can go outside in the night to absorb the light of the stars and receive some of the benefits.  And, if those stars happen to be in the shape of a unicorn……..that HAS to be some extra special and nourishing star bathing.

When I was designing the curriculum for my new Buddhist meditation and nature focused yoga teacher training program, I felt called to pull ecospirituality into my yoga and meditation practice and work.  I also read an article in the November 2017-January 2018 Womankind magazine today called, “The Gardening Effect” by Lucy Treloar that quotes a biologist by the name of E.O. Wilson:

“…nature holds the key to our aesthetic, intellectual, cognitive and even spiritual satisfaction.”

Wow!  Go ahead and read that a few times and think about how much time you spend outdoors, about the quality of water and food that you consume and make a part of your body. I love an essay/memoir in this magazine by Katherine Scholes about her time as a child following her father, a physician, on his travels through Tanzania before independence when it was called Tanganyika.  The memoir is called “Home in the Open Savannah” and there are fabulous pictures of the author and her siblings as children.  In many of the pictures they are holding up dead birds with huge smiles on their faces.  I think of my children all stressed out about school schedules and homework packets and spending too much time on their iPads and how different their lives will be for not having had this kind of adventure in childhood that the author describes, but also how different they will be for having the ones that they are having.  Because, it’s all an adventure.

Also in this magazine, Womankind (11/17-01/18) on page 93, there is a Tanzanian proverb:

“A wise person will always find a way.”

This proverb is interesting to me, especially completely out of context, as it brings to mind my knowledge of the Tao….which is a certain kind of “way”.  Perhaps a wise person always finds a path to the flow of spirit?  Finds a way to a path, any path that will accept their feet and they walk it until the path unfolds and things seem more clear.  Or, maybe it is an invitation to the power of intention, that once we are determined, we relax around that determination so that we can be creative about how to manifest our desire?  It would be interesting to use this as a positive affirmation when I feel like something is impossible to remind myself that there is, in fact, a way.  There is always a way.

Here are some other books that made it to the reading pile:

Attracting Songbirds to Your Backyard
By Sally Roth

Did you know that some songbirds won’t ever consider a bird feeder, no matter how well-stocked, to be a food source?  This book is filled with interesting projects for making and providing food sources for song birds to diversify the birds that come and serenade you in your yard.  I also learned a lot about birds that are native to other places other than the Eastern parts of the USA where I am most familiar with bird populations.  Invite the birds to sing to you this spring and summer!

The Art of Stopping Time: Practical Mindfulness for Busy People
By Pedram Shojai

I like this meditation book a lot. There are lots of little tricks and exercises for finding ways to be mindful through your day.  I especially appreciated the suggestions on learning how to relax your neck, learning animal tracks, and taking five deep breaths every thirty-minutes throughout the day.  Sometimes, a little shift in attention can make a huge difference in your quality of life.  This book offers a lot of suggestions on how to make little shifts.

The State of Mind Called Beautiful
By Sayadaw U Pandita

Well, this is a vipassana meditation book with a very interesting name.  But, the perspectives and techniques offered are inspiring and a great way to either begin a personal meditation practice or to inspire and enhance an existing practice.  I find that this book has a very unique discussion on the challenges that come up during practice, such as pain in the body and a wandering mind.  The suggestions offered for working with obstacles within and around practice are very helpful and creative.

Flavor: The Science of Our Most Neglected Sense
By Bob Holmes

Just fascinating!  I’ve always thought that flavor and taste were synonyms, but, it turns out, they are not the same thing at all.  This is a very easy to read book and I found the discussion on what gives vegetables their flavor, or makes us believe them to have flavor, especially interesting.  It turns out that sometimes, what we taste as being a very sweet tomato isn’t sweet because of sugar content necessarily—its the hundreds of volatile aroma molecules.  And, cheap wine tastes better when people are told it is expensive even when, in a blind taste test, most will think the cheaper wines taste better anyway.  So, pour that $10 bottle of wine into a carafe and tell your guests it’s a $90 bottle of wine… enhance their enjoyment!

What’s in your reading pile this weekend?  Please comment below.