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Monthly Vegan Recipes of Awesomeness Challenge! February: Pancakes w/blueberries & maple syrup

Okay, so seeing how my life is actually going pretty well lately I haven’t been posting much here. In an attempt to change that I will challenge myself to try to make something outside of my cooking-comfort zone, without looking too much at the price. This month…. Canadian pancakes! Why Canadian pancakes? Well, really just because I decided to buy some maple syrup the other day to bring back some nostalgia.. and then I figured the best thing to pour it on would be pancakes. Plus: hey, pancakes! :D

I’ll pretty much be following this recipe: http://vegancowgirl.blogspot.nl/2008/07/pantastic-canada-day-pancakes.html
But will Dutchify (substitute with Dutch products) if necessary and eventually I’ll post my own recipe plus of course my results. Can’t wait! :D

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Alan Watts: What if money was no object? (x)

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Reblogged from Team Green
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Reblogged from We're All Mad Here.
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Zen Again

I’ve been kind of ill for the past three days, ever since I went to see Converge. Yesterday I felt better in the afternoon but then I made the mistake of going to a jam-session and then I made the mistake of hanging out with the guys for far too long. So today I’ve been feeling worse physically because of going out and not staying in bed and worse mentally for making these decisions which stopped me from feeling better today. I can only be glad I resisted the temptation of alcohol and weed and drank a lot of tea instead. The straight-edger within me rejoices… :P

Anyway, because of all this (and generally feeling kinda downish; that’s been going on for the past 3 months) I’ve been in a reflective mood all day today and I’ve been revisiting the things which helped me get out from under my blues in the past. Namely Hardcore Zen, Against The Stream and the 7 Habits of highly effective people. I just finished 15 minutes of zazen about half an hour ago and instead of going back to my daily life stuff, I decided to focus on some more of this HxZ, ATS, 7H stuff.

And I just realized, that what these things all basically have in common, is that one thing they do, is train you in understanding the present moment, and subsequently understanding that as this present moment is always changing, things occur (sensations arise) and you have the freedom to choose how to respond to what happens.

An example:

What happened to me just before I chose to type this post was that my phone indicated I had a new message. As I checked it out I saw that it was from a certain female person, one whom I get along with quite well but am also quite attracted to. Sexual desire arose and I felt an urge to open up a new tab on my browser and load up some porn! That’s the point where I stopped and thought: is this something I really want to do? Can I get away with doing this? Meaning: will I be able to continue finishing my to-do-list and will I be able to continue to ‘be zen’ and essentially do what really gives me a happy and positive feeling? One which will last far longer than giving in to the short-term happiness of a quick wank?

For me, sexual desire is tricky. It’s one of the many things that I’ve far too often given in to (and most likely far more often will give in to in the future) than I wish I could say was true. And I can rationalize (rational lies) that I do so because it’s healthy, or because it’ll relieve stress, or whatever. But the truth is that each time I have a choice to respond to those urges, and every time that I make a decision, I establish a pattern. Or rather a habit. So the habits that one has built up are the result of decisions that one makes. Of course if you’re not aware of your ability to respond to whatever arises, (aka your response-ability) you can end up giving yourself some really nasty habits.

Now having ADD does make it a bit trickier, because I believe that being more prone to distractions roughly translates to there being more decisions that need to be made. And making choices requires energy. But that just means that people with ADD need to double the amount of effort they put into it. Although it doesn’t matter if you have ADD or not. Reactive minds, or untrained minds, will subconsciously choose to respond habitually to what happens, which is why it’s essential to exercise frequently, follow a healthy diet and meditate frequently (AND brush up on what meditation/zazen is) in order to establish a habitual pattern of making the right choices when they need to be made.

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ADD, meditation and establishing a new habit of thinking.

Having been diagnosed with ADD, I do have to admit I have a lot of difficulties with meditation. Usually I start off poorly, but regain my concentration on the breath and sustain it for what I assume is some minutes. After that I tend to spend the remainder of the meditation constantly drifting off into thoughts until I finally manage to persuade myself to concentrate again. But it’s not that I’m unaware of my distraction. Usually there’s a kind of undertone of knowing that I’m distracted and that I should get back to concentrating on my breath.

But there’s this resistance that comes from somewhere that somehow stops me from acting according to what I know is best for me and instead keeps me in the state of doing this distracted task. And it seems and feels like it’s the same thing during meditation as it is when I’m say… playing guitar when I actually feel like I should be tidying up the kitchen. Of course if I then stop playing guitar and start tidying up the kitchen I might feel that that was a distraction and that I should actually be doing my finances. Which of course turns into the next distraction, because I was actually playing guitar which is also something that I feel I should do, because not playing guitar means my guitarplaying skills will decrease.

Technically speaking the 1st of Stephen Covey’s habits says that because I have control of my imagination (I can choose at this point in time to imagine say… a pink giraffe or whatever) I have the ability to decide whether I act upon this feeling of distraction or not. Because the stimulus is the thought that has arisen which says: “hey dude, you really shouldn’t be reading these boring forms, you should be playing guitar because you currently suck and if you’re gonna start a new band you gotta have the chops or noone will want to jam with you”, usually the subsequent response to that is something like: “yeah, that’s right, I’ll do this shit later when I’ve got more time”. Of course the 1st habit would say that I can also choose to respond with as: “no way dude, these forms are important and if I just focus on them for a little longer I can just be done with them and practice my chops later and I won’t have these forms in the back of my head to worry about anymore”.

Which is true.

But in practice I find it’s not so simple to remember to apply this. All too often I just act and don’t think about my choice to respond. There have been some short periods of time in which I’ve been successful in both applying this and remembering to apply it. But these times have usually only been after I’ve spent a whole lot of time and energy in getting into the right mood. In other words, after reading and listening to Covey, doing lots of meditation, reading Brad Warner, listening to Alan Watts and so on. Which then makes me wonder if I’m going to be ‘stuck’ having to read and study this stuff all the time in order to be able to apply it.

I’ve more or less tried to do so in the last year… but then the problem turns into boredom from having read before what I’m trying to read. In other words, the words have lost their ‘freshness’. So I’ve tried to move on and get into other books, but basically I’m just looking for the same stuff put in other words. So now I wonder if all I can ever get out of life is short periods of concentration… with longer periods of distraction and therefor confusion following after.

Of course… it’s also very possible that I’m being entirely too impatient and have far too high expectations of myself after only meditating for less than a year (!). I sincerely hope that through the practice of meditation and study (of zen) I can remember to apply the 7 habits when I want/need to. Because I know I have a lot to offer the world/myself and it really would be a shame if I’d stay the same mess that I’ve been these past so many years. Maybe it’s just time to stop being so hard on myself.