Thursday, November 28, 2013

Be an Earth Steward


Steward: a person whose responsibility it is to take care of something.
“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” (Albert Einstein)

I feel more and more that this beautiful earth is our sustaining mother, who provides all that we need in a most natural, supportive sense – fresh water, nutrient-rich food, healing medicines, shelter.  We are a part of her and this diverse interconnected circle of life.  I am amazed and humbled by this beautiful tapestry of plant and animal life and life-sustaining soils and waters..

My desire is to live a life that is harmonious with the earth and this circle of life, and so I consider myself a steward of the earth.  Will you join me friends in becoming an earth steward?

The industrial era largely fractured our natural connection with the earth, and ultimately compromised environmental (air, soil, water), animal and human health.  I feel this time on the planet is an opportunity for us to create in innovative and sustainable ways focused on long term solutions.  The old model of businesses focused solely on profit is over.  The development principle now must embrace a triple bottom line approach - people, planet, profits, in order to create in healthy and sustainable ways for the earth and all beings.  This is the new way forward, and requires a shift in consciousness, moving out of old constructs and ways. 

Becoming an earth steward means increasing awareness of our daily choices and their impact on the earth, and invites us to live in simpler, lighter ways.

This is my invitation:  for the next 30 days commit to 3 things you can do to live more simply and with a lighter footprint on momma earth.  Become more aware of the impact of your daily choices (food, transportation, etc) and use your voice to speak up for what you believe in (eg., GMO labelling, right to know).   Individually and together we can make a big difference!

Awhile ago I committed to some simple 30 day intentions, which I have continued : ) (read original post  http://irenabliss.blogspot.ca/2011/08/i-love-momma-earth-30d-challenge-little.html):
  1. Eliminate all plastic bottle and paper cup use. 
    I found an easy solution was simply to use a stainless steel double-jacketed drinking bottle for water or hot teas as I move about my day.  Many people are unaware that plastic drinking bottle and paper cup use for our 'convenience' generates a huge waste stream with associated health and environmental impacts.  I've also expanded this intention to eliminate all new plastic bag use. 
  2. Commit to eating a diet that is 90%-100% organic.  Whenever possible I buy and eat only organic food.  This is becoming increasingly available in North America and elsewhere.  I put my money where my mouth is : ) and commit to investing in earth friendly and sustainable agricultural practices.  Note:  Food that is certified organic cannot intentionally include GMOs, and organic food production practices are much friendlier/healthier, i.e., avoid hazardous chemical fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, etc.  As I’ve learned more about GMOs my commitment to supporting organic food production has grown even stronger. 
  3. Pick up litter whenever I’m outside (3 -5 pieces : ).  Doing this helps to take care of our momma and sets an intention to keep our natural spaces beautiful. 
  4. Commute primarily by bicycle, walking or public transit.  I also use an autoshare program and rent a hybrid/ electric vehicle for longer trips. This has been convenient and easy-peasy : )

All of these practices support me in feeling good, healthy inside and out, and are now an easy ‘normal’ way of life!

A ‘hot topic’ these days is GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) and GM (Genetically Modified) or GE (Genetically Engineered) foods.  I am drawn to sharing some basic information below, including links to an insightful documentary GMO OMG, a Non-GMO Shopping Guide, and avenues to take action for labelling and right to know.  Let’s educate ourselves about our daily choices, and invest in healthy organic food production.  Our voices and choices do make a big difference!

Currently, about 64 countries around the world require labeling of genetically engineered foods.
  Unlike most other developed countries – such as 15 nations in the European Union, Japan, Australia, Brazil, Russia and even China – the U.S.and Canada have no laws requiring labeling of genetically engineered foods.  Canada currently only requires 'voluntary labelling', and so far there has been no labelling of GM foods on this basis.  And while Canada is one of the world’s largest producers of GE crops, the system for regulating food biotechnology is weak.

GMOs
are crops that have been engineered, not simply bred, to contain DNA from entirely different organisms so that the crops then have traits that could not be gained through traditional plant breeding. For example, many crops have been engineered with special bacteria or viral DNA to make them herbicide resistant or lethal to insects. 
For example, GM sweet corn is engineered to be toxic to particular insects. The GM technology therefore transforms the corn plant technically into a pesticide.  Five main GM commodity crops are corn, soy, cotton, sugar beets and canola.  Typically >85% of these crops are GMO in North America.  They also have by-products, such as high fructose corn syrup, soybean oil, vegetable oil and canola oil, in an estimated 75% of processed foods sold in grocery stores.

GE/GM food has been in grocery stores since around 1996, but no long-term tests have been done on the impacts on human health.
Potential health risks include the development of antibiotic resistance, allergic reactions, nutritional changes and the creation of toxins. GE crops also threaten plant diversity.  They also harm the ecosystem due to the use of herbicide/pesticide sprays etc.

A recent poll conducted by MSNBC showed that 93% of consumers want to know if they were eating GM foods.
Commercial foods are already labeled extensively with nutritional information, country of origin, and information about their production. It is time to add a label for GM/GE contents.  People want labelling of GM/GE foods so consumers can make informed decisions.

GMO OMG film
http://www.gmofilm.com - Director and concerned father Jeremy Seifert is in search of answers. How do GMOs affect our children, the health of our planet, and our freedom of choice?

Non GMO Shopping Guide
http://www.nongmoshoppingguide.com/

JUST LABEL IT 
http://justlabelit.org/

RIGHT TO KNOW
http://www.righttoknow-gmo.org/

Organic Consumers Association
http://www.organicconsumers.org/

Food Democracy Now
http://www.fooddemocracynow.org/

Center for Food Safety (USA)
http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/

CANADIAN Biotechnology ACTION  NETWORK
 
http://www.cban.ca/Take-Action 
(great site to get informed and take action in Canada)

David Suzuki Foundation (Canada) -
http://www.davidsuzuki.org/what-you-can-do/queen-of-green/faqs/food/understanding-gmo/

FB Campaign - Right to Know Canada Bill C-257 Mandatory Labeling of GMO's
https://www.facebook.com/AlbertansAgainstMonsanto

Some recent earth-friendly developments:  
Mexico banned genetically engineered corn. Citing the risk of imminent harm to the environment, a Mexican judge ruled that, effective immediately, no genetically engineered corn can be planted in the country. This means that companies like Monsanto will no longer be allowed to plant or sell their corn within the country's borders.

The County Council for the island of Kauai
passed a law that mandates farms to disclose pesticide use and the presence of genetically modified crops. The bill also requires a 500-foot buffer zone near medical facilities, schools and homes -- among other locations.

The big island of Hawaii
County Council gave preliminary approval to a bill that prohibits open air cultivation, propagation, development or testing of genetically engineered crops or plants. The bill, which still needs further confirmation to become law, would also prohibit biotech companies from operating on the Big Island.

Washington state
had a close result on Initiative 522, which would mandate the labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), i.e., vote results were 51% No, 49% Yes.  This was close, and as one state passes GMO labelling, many others will likely follow.

Please join me friends - please commit to being an earth steward and living your "I love Momma" intentions and supporting healthy, sustainable solutions.  Together our actions ripple out to create positive change in the world.  Let us take good care of our home and each other. 

namaste,Irena 

Honor the Earth, our Mother.
Honor the Elders.
Honor all with whom we share the Earth: - Four-leggeds, two-leggeds, winged ones,
Swimmers, crawlers,
plant and rock people.
Walk in balance and beauty.
(Native American Elder)

The Peace of Wild Things
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
(Wendell Berry, American novelist, poet, environmental activist, cultural critic, farmer)

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Cultivating sensitivity...

Ah sensitivity... it's often viewed as a detriment or weakness in our modern western culture. What is sensitivity?  I feel it is an inward orientation, an ability to feel, sense, observe, and tune in to the world around us… to perceive energetic and emotional truths about ourselves, other people, animals, and nature around us. Sensitivity requires deep listening and an open mind and heart.

Our western culture has developed a strong preference for fostering a rather shallow extroversion in children and adults, gearing them to ‘fit in’ and be ’successful’ in an imbalanced consumer culture. We’re encouraged towards a more superficial extroversion, marked by non-stop talking, busyness, hyper competitiveness, endless promotion, and filling up with information, food, ‘stuff‘, while ignoring many deeper truths. We’re encouraged to measure our worth by things and by comparison with others. Hyper-mental activity, social media ‘seeking‘, and other distractions and ‘busy’ tactics abound in our culture. In many ways we’re encouraged to behave insensitively towards ourselves, other people, animals, and mother earth. 



Documentaries like Food Inc., The Cove, Sharkwater, Revolution, Black Fish, An Inconvenient Truth, Forks over Knives, and many others, help to reveal deeper truths of how we are living and our impact on the planet and each other. In these times, there seems to be a heightened contrast between the desire for awareness, simplicity, balance, and the encouragement of insensitivity to protect a rather shaky status quo.

Why is cultivating sensitivity important?
I feel sensitivity is the means by which we heal ourselves, truly see and help each other, and foster better relationships and community with each other, all other beings and our mother earth.

Here are some very simple practices to help cultivate sensitivity:
  1. Spend time every day in silence. When we practice silence, we tune in, sensing and feeling truths at deeper levels.
  2. Breathe fully. Practice breathing with awareness - simply focus your attention on breath moving in and out of the body. Let the busyness of the mind recede, as you focus on the sensations of breath and body.
  3. Spend time every day in nature…turn off cell phones/other devices and simply practice being present in nature and sensing, breathing. Sense, feel the trees, birds, sunshine, clouds, wind.  Sit or lie down in the grass, wrap your arms around a tree and just feel the magnificence of the natural beings surrounding and supporting us.  It is miraculous to see and feel how nature supports us every day, and how beautiful the circle of life on earth is… truly a miracle of interconnectedness, refinement and beauty!
  4. Practice gratitude and appreciation every day.  I love to truly see and appreciate the sun, sky, flowers, trees, birds, and the luxury and abundance of home (warm bed, clean water, food, etc), every day. It is life-affirming to appreciate the abundance that supports us every day.
  5. Practice deep listening with others. Really listen to your partner, friend, or family member, to hear and feel their suffering. Refrain from offering advice if possible, and simply listen and acknowledge them. Deep listening is a healing practice and cultivates sensitivity and compassion. Allow yourself to be quiet and tune in to your own feelings, and allow waves of emotion to express and move through, in their own natural timing.

Reflect on how you are sensitive to and aware of the suffering of others. I remember how as a child, I sensed the suffering of people in my family and in the world around me, and how I felt the sadness and boredom of animals in zoos and the suffering of majestic marine animals in theme water parks. It is a modern tragedy to witness beautiful, wise beings, reduced to living in small steel cages and performing mindless rituals for people’s amusement and commerce, without consideration of their suffering and highest good. Cultivating awareness throughout our lives will allow us to shift ways of living on this planet, and support freedom and ease for all. With sensitivity we can also better appreciate our beautiful mother earth, and heal contaminated waters, soils, air, and damaged habitats we’ve created. We can then truly begin to love and respect each other and the miraculous, life-sustaining earth we live on.

Cultivating sensitivity will allow us to behave with more tenderness and consideration towards other people, all beings, and mother earth. Increasing sensitivity and awareness will release us from the tyranny of our mind, from ego-seeking competition and control, and from exhausting patterns of ‘never enough‘. Let us cultivate sensitivity friends, and nurture a world where people, animals, and all of nature live in harmonious coexistence and peaceful freedom. I am optimistic that we are becoming more sensitive and aware as human beings, shifting from old constructs, and creating in more harmonious, life-affirming ways.  Let us cultivate sensitivity, kindness, and peaceful freedom for all.

love and aloha,
Irena



Monday, April 15, 2013

Intuitive Art

Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life." (Pablo Picasso)

Intuitive art is a playful experience that allows us to see who we are. It cultivates greater awareness of our feelings, our hopes and dreams, our spirit. It can also help us move through challenges and emotions, and expand our sense of peace, happiness and meaning in our lives. Overall, this healing practice allows us to ‘come home’ in a nurturing, playful way.

We can all remember as children, being given crayons and paper and creating instantly. Yet as adults, we often hesitate, think, critique, self-criticize, and compare. Many people have suppressed their creative expressions and sense of experimental fun over the years. Each person’s innate inspired creative channels can easily become blocked by the mind/ego, fear and doubt.
 
Intuitive Art (drawing, painting, etc) is a way to create art that is freeing, fun, and reflective of our spirit in any moment. It is a radical approach to making art, and has a very simple principle: ground yourself in awareness, ease, and let your inner source guide you. It doesn’t matter what you reflect on a page or canvas, as long as what you’re creating is guided by your inner-spirit. Authenticity and personal clarity are the fundamental driving forces in intuitive art. It is simply a matter of tuning in and naturally expressing what you feel, what is true now…
 
Simple Intuitive Art Drawing Exercise:
Let your art create and reveal itself, with the following simple intuitive drawing exercise.

  • Sit in a comfortable position with a set of coloured pencils/crayons and paper nearby. Close your eyes. Take a few deep relaxed breaths in and exhale through the mouth with a ‘ha‘ sound. Feel your belly and shoulders soften. Feel yourself letting go and dropping deeper inside. Let go of any mind chatter, and return to your body and breath. Allow your mind to be as blank as the sheet of paper. Take continuous relaxed breaths, allowing the mind to grow still. Focus on nothing other than feeling this space of emptiness.
  • Begin to draw from that empty space (soft breath, clear mind) (opening your eyes is optional at this point). You may draw your day, how you’re feeling, a dream. It doesn't matter what you draw. Simply allow your pencil/crayon to move on the paper - begin making movements with your pencil/crayon and let it lead you.
  • Continue to feel your breath and that empty clear space in your mind as you draw. Don't look too intensely or become attached to what you're drawing. It helps to look away from time to time, even as your hand is moving. Simply allow yourself to move continuously, without stopping. Stopping most often reflects thinking, and we want to move away from mental thought and controlling ego.
  • Practice drawing from this relaxed space of emptiness and non-attachment regularly. You will become more and more comfortable with letting go of control and simply allowing what is to arise and be expressed on your paper or canvas. Your pencil/crayon will begin to move before thoughts do, and with practice your drawing will draw itself.

Enjoy intuitive art friends! We were all born to live and express who we are, and art & movement are both powerful means to express our spirit.







Join Irena as she weaves organic journeys of Bliss Dance, Meditation and Intuitive Art. To learn more visit: www.aboutbliss.com a
nd www.irenabliss.com.
Bliss heArt Dance copyright Irena Bliss

Friday, February 8, 2013

Navigating in Heart Stream and Deeper Awareness...

I am feeling the wave friends, drawing us away from our minds to our hearts.  When we connect to our hearts and navigate from there, we move with love, peace and connection to all.  Moving deeper into this awareness and heart space, I feel is the necessary evolution of our species beckoning us at this time.
How can we cultivate this presence?  Simply by moving away from our egoic mind chatter and dropping deeper into the body.  To experience this, please allow yourself to sit comfortably... feel your fingers, feel your toes, your breath... allow yourself to simply be in this calm perceptive state.  From this deep presence, a sense of peace, joy, and connection to all arises.  It is that simple and accessible at any moment : ) 

Our modern culture has become over-identified with the head and with thought forms, and so it can be a daily practice to move away from the busy mind, deeper into presence via the body and heart.  Connecting to this internal and eternal sea of presence (consciousness) becomes even easier when we make a clear commitment to end our personal suffering.  I find most personal suffering is caused by our egoic mind's incessant naming, labelling, judging, and setting expectations (which are then often externalized and imposed on others). The mind can still be a useful tool of course, but not be 'in control'.  Please join me in letting go and moving deeper into this calm sea of presence.  This is a delightful playing and creating field friends : )

Let us join together in this new way of being on earth -with ourselves, all other beings, and our mother.  I feel it is the way being called for at this time in order to create more balance, connection and harmony here.  And it is already the way in which we've created all beauty and harmony on earth.  When we relinquish this tyranny of our egoic minds, we surrender into a deep state of awareness and presence, and are set free...  Please join me in this calm, connected sea friends - the water is warm and gentle.

peace,
Irena











PS Mahalo to my Hawaiian teacher, Harry Uhane Jim, who has been encouraging and saying, "it is time to start navigating in heart stream and stop all negotiation." 
Happy navigating friends : )