Naming Myself (Part 1)

April 6, 2013

I was planning on writing about my name change – I’m now Maya Lila – but as I’m learning more about the words, it’s turning into a huge production. I could probably write an ebook on this.

The short answer: Maya is the sanskrit word for the illusion of duality and separation; Lila is sanskrit for divine play or game. The name Maya came to me last September as I was sitting in an olive tree, feeling sad and having a good cry. Later that day I shared the name with some people who still live in a rather fear-based paradigm (the word Maya scares them a bit) so they insisted I add something lighter, and suggested Lila – which is actually my favorite sanskrit word.

So this new name is a mantra, a reminder, for Me – THIS IS ALL A GAME. You’re a divine creator, a bubble of cosmic consciousness in a skin suit. Play. Have fun. Lighten up!

The word Maya actually has a whole bunch of other meanings and is generally misunderstood. So I’ll go into more depth in another post, and also expound on the philosophy of the name, which perfectly resonates with my life philosophy.

In the meantime, I’ll share a bit about the beautiful day I had yesterday:

In the morning I helped out with a children’s workshop at the Academy of Art, Creativity & Consciousness. The theme of the day was The Universe; I led the kids through some yoga poses (after sun saluation/moon/star, we moved on to animals… hey, animals are IN the Universe) and we showed them a video about our solar system and this AMAZING “Scale of the Universe” interactive game – click click click!!!. I translated everything into Italian and was impressed by my own ability to talk about Nebulae and Quarks in a foreign language. Woo hoo!

Kids Creating the Universe

Kids Creating the Universe

The kids here at Ananda are pretty amazing, much more able to regulate their emotions and focus than most kids I’ve worked with in the outside world.

In the afternoon a friend gave me a ride on his motorino, which ended up dying a few kilometers into the ride (the motorino, not the friend); luckily we were going downhill so we rolled along for a few more kilometers as I laughed my arse off, tried to distinguish sheep from goats, and enjoyed the rolling Umbrian hills and dramatic clouds.

P1100295

Eventually the motorino started up again and we got back safely.

Then I took a little nature walk. Spring is coming!!!

P1100310 P1100313 P1100306 P1100303 P1100311

Life is good.

Biggest Shooting Star Ever

February 15, 2013

Russian Meteor

I’m kind of obsessed with meteors. I see one almost every night as I stare at the sky during my country-road walk home.

I don’t check the news, but a friend in Canada posted the Twitter feed of the giant Russian meteor on Facebook, which had bunches of home videos and photos… amazing how news spreads instantaneously and globally.

Apparently, a meteor crashed in Russia a few hours ago. Hundreds were injured, but no one was killed, so I don’t have to feel guilty about loving this.

This dashboard camera gets a clear shot of the brilliant meteor coming in at a distance:

And these two videos give you an idea of what the shockwave must’ve felt like:

(in the second one there’s not much after :20 aside from the cameraman running around and shouting in Russian)

Some reports say that the meteor was intercepted by the Russian air defense and was blown apart 20km off the ground, leading to the vapor trails.

Of course there are lots of other theories. But I like the simplicity of it being a meteor. I little reminder – Nature is powerful. You never know when giant space rocks are going to come flaming through the atmosphere and shake up your world. We live in a Universe of beautiful mystery and infinite possibility. Why not choose to appreciate this moment a little more, right now? Why not choose to live in wonder, amazement and joyful gratitude?

“The little space within the heart
is as great as the vast
universe.
The heavens and the earth are there,
and the sun and the moon and
the stars.
Fire and lightning and winds are there,
and all that now is and
all that is not.”

~ The Upanishads

A friend of mine sent me an email today that got me ranting. The email was in regards to California being on the verge of approving the use of a carcinogenic gas, methyl iodide, for use on strawberry fields and other food crops. Methyl idodide causes the following symptoms with acute exposure: nausea, vomiting, slurred speech, and other problems; massive exposure can lead to pulmonary edema; and
MAY cause fetal loss to women who live near farms where it’s used. They’re not exactly sure yet.

This makes me so angry. How about agriculture/farmers/corporations just STOP POISONING OUR FOOD?!?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

On further thought, I realized that this ties in with my pro-insect eating movement. If our culture wasn’t so squeamish about eating insects, insects in our fruits and veggies would provide the protein that meat-eaters are always complaining is deficient in vegetarian’s diets! WITHOUT the cancer-causing fat from meat!

Think about it! No pesticides = bugs in fruits & veggies (where they naturally occur) = a complete food of vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein! If you can separate yourself from our cultural biases/beliefs/assumptions about eating insects being “gross,” you can see that from an evolutionary standpoint the consumption of insects with vegetable matter makes TOTAL SENSE.

Anyways, back to chemicals.

I went to this website & saw the following article about a report CNN did about chemicals:

“On June 2nd and 3rd, CNN aired “Toxic America,” a special investigative report detailing the prevalence and invisibility of hazardous chemicals we are all exposed to in our homes, air, water and food. “For 80 percent of the common chemicals in everyday use in this country we know almost nothing about whether or not they can damage the brains of children, the immune system, the reproductive system, and the other developing organs,” noted Dr. Phil Landrigan, a pediatrician and director of the Children’s Environmental Health Center at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. The first hour of the CNN report presented the struggle by residents of Mossville, Louisiana to regain their right to live in a healthy environment despite being surrounded by 14 chemical plants. Mossville has an astounding cancer cluster, clearly linked to the contamination of the air, water and ground beneath residents’ homes. The investigation was aided by Advocates for Environmental Human Rights, a DC-based public interest law firm and Pesticide Action Network ally working with groups particularly in the Gulf states.

The second hour of the CNN report focuses on food contamination. By eating any one of the 12 most contaminated fruits or vegetables featured on the program, consumers risk ingesting between 47 and 67 different pesticides; and this result is after the produce has been washed with a high power pressure water system by USDA analysts. According to PAN’s pesticide residue database, What’sOnMyFood.org, a single serving apple may contain carcinogens, suspected hormone disruptors, neurotoxins, and developmental and reproductive toxins. CNN points out that consumers can avoid up to 80 percent of dietary pesticide exposures simply by buying organic versions of what the Environmental Working Group calls the “Dirty Dozen” produce items. Not covered in the story were dangers posed to farmers, farmworkers and their families who remain exposed to pesticides applied during the full production cycle of even those foods that retain the least residues. Also not covered was the fact that pesticides used on fields often make their way into drinking water. Thus purchasing produce with fewer pesticides on the final product will not necessarily reduce our exposure from drinking water. Sweet corn, for example, typically retains minimal pesticide residue. Yet atrazine, a known hormone disruptor and ubiquitous herbicide used predominately on corn, is found in 94% of tested U.S. drinking water.”

Now, I understand that these claims may be skewed. You MIGHT have to drink a gallon of these poisons for it to cause cancer; I don’t know. But these chemicals are in our water, our food, and our air, and they usually end up being stored in our fat. After 10 years of eating/drinking/breathing poison, I’m gonna guess that the buildup in our bodies is enough to have SOME kind of carcinogenic/neurotoxic/reproductive/developmental effect.

And if you think about it, our planet is like our bodies, on a larger scale. We keep inventing, producing and pumping out these non-naturally-occurring poisonous chemicals, and eventually the toxic buildup will just be too much for the system to continue functioning – whether that’s the body system or the entire planet.

Spring Sprung-ing

May 15, 2010

I love taking walks around my new neighborhood.

My new ‘hood is Beverly Hills, and it’s gorgeous. When I lived in Italy, I realized how much my surroundings affected my happiness. It’s important to my happiness to live in an area that’s aesthetically pleasing.

Roses the size of your head!

And when I house-sat for a rich friend who lived off Montana Ave in Santa Monica a few years ago, I figured out why I liked rich areas – because the front yards had beautiful gardens & the streets were lined with massive trees. These people had the resources to invest into making their surroundings beautiful.

When I moved into my new ‘hood in January, my street had huge, bare oak trees arching overhead. January turned into February, and I wondered when the leaves would start to come in. Finally, in mid-March, I saw the first tiny green leaves appearing. By the first week of April, the leaves were bigger, and there were tons more of them. It’s amazing to see the leaves appear, suddenly, all together, out of nowhere. It’s amazing how they all know to sprout together. First there were none, and then every tree had about 40 baby leaves.

My street.


(mid-April)

I can’t wait for June, when the leaves will form a thick, lush tunnel over the street. The sun will shine dapples through the green, the air will seem cleaner.

Echoing what I realized years ago, recent studies are showing that greenery makes people happier and healthier. Just five minutes of wandering through some green per day will improve your overall quality of life.

Another natural thing that, weirdly, makes us healthier – birdsong. People who listen to birdsong in an open-floor-plan-office are 33% more productive. Why? Back in the day, our limbic systems evolved to know that if we could hear the birds singing, we were safe from predators. And, like being somewhere with a lot of greenery, it signaled that we were in a place with lots of resources to support us.

I love how we’re wired for nature.

Here’s the TED talk where I heard about the birdsong thing; if you’ve never watched TED, I HIGHLY recommend it. They are fascinating!
http://www.ted.com/talks/julian_treasure_the_4_ways_sound_affects_us.html