The Most Versatile Plant On The Planet

 In this article, I offer a "tip of the iceberg" view of what may well be the most useful plant known to humankind; hemp. Almost any product that can be made from wood, cotton, soy, or petroleum (including plastics) can be made from hemp. There are more than 25,000 known uses for hemp.
In the world of textiles, cotton is "king". Cotton represents 1/2 the fiber grown worldwide for clothes and other textiles. Although, cotton requires ever increasingly heavy doses of pesticides and fertilizer to produce the same quantity. The production of cotton worldwide accounts for about 25% of the world’s pesticide use. These chemicals end up being absorbed into our skin as we wear cotton clothing.
The hemp plant requires no fertilizers, no pesticides: no chemicals whatsoever. In fact, it feeds the soil with valuable nutrients. It is naturally resistant to pests. Its large upper leaves naturally push out weeds allowing it to grow very quickly, maturing in three to four months.
Growing cotton requires about 1400 gallons of water for every pound produced. Some areas of the world have even experienced desertification as a result of producing cotton. Hemp requires 1/2 that, while producing about 250% more fiber. Repeated washing breaks down cotton fiber about 1/3 faster than hemp. Creating hemp clothing would mean we would need to produce much less clothing.

Food & Nutrition

In agriculture, soy is"king".  Although, hemp is a healthier source of protein and likely the most versatile plant in the plant kingdom. Hemp contains;
* All 20 amino acids, including the 9 essential amino acids our bodies cannot produce.
* A high percentage of the proteins that strengthen immunity and fend off toxins.
* Nature’s highest source of essential fatty acid.
* A perfect ratio of Omega-6 and Omega-3, for cardiovascular and immune system health.
* A superior vegetarian source of protein considered easily digestible.
* A rich source of phytonutrients, the disease-protective element of plants with benefits protecting         immunity, bloodstream, tissues, cells, skin, organs and mitochondria.
* The richest known source of polyunsaturated essential fatty acids.
Hemp oil can be used in cosmetics and body care products, nutritional supplements, and food products. It can be used in cooking, added to salads, and used in dressings and condiments.
The seeds may be eaten raw, added to soups and salads, used in baking, used as cereal, flour, sprouted, turned into tofu or nut butters, used as a protein powder, added to smoothies or shakes, or made into tea. The fresh leaves of the hemp plant are also edible.

While corn and soy dominate the food industry, they are almost entirely GMO (94% of soy, 88% of corn grown in the U.S. in 2012). Hemp is never genetically modified.


Hemp oil can be used to create an eco-friendly alternative to petroleum based paints, oils, and inks. One of the most compelling uses of hemp is in the form of clean-burning bio-fuels. Hemp is Earth's number-one biomass resource. Biomass can be converted to methane, methanol, or gasoline at a cost comparable to petroleum. Growing hemp produces 10 tons per acre in four months, 10 times more methanol than corn, making biomass from hemp an obvious alternative to petroleum.
Hemp fuel burns clean and does not contribute to global warming. In addition, hemp is spectacular at sequestering CO2! Farming just 6% of the continental U.S. acreage with biomass crops would provide all of America's energy needs!!!

Construction/ Pulp

Conflict Resolution, Part 2

When we verbalize our emotions, we are using linear descriptions to express a non-linear aspect of our life. Emotions are "energy in motion"; not a linear description. To access and authentically express your emotions in a healthy way, I offer a very powerful technique that I occasionally use in support of couples in my counseling practice. Sit facing each other about 5' apart. Whichever of you is feeling the most intensely will start this process by holding a drum between your legs and drumming what you feel. No words are spoken as they can actually distance us from this very visceral expression. Although, I encourage you to non-verbally vocalize what you are feeling, as it will assist you in even more effectively expressing your emotions. While one of you is drumming what you feel, the other says nothing, just listens and opens in an empathic way to what is being expressed. This technique requires no drumming experience or technical ability whatsoever. In fact, it's best to let go of technique all together. Let go of anything linear; rhythmical patterns, tempo, and words. This will allow you to better let go of "thinking" your way through this emotional exercise and to more fully express your emotions. "Drum out" your feelings as long as you need.

 Now it's the other persons turn. Repeat this same process. Take turns, back and forth until you feel "done". When you both feel complete, talk about what each of you felt while the other drummed.

As I mentioned in last weeks blog, although there are myriad variations of emotion, they boil down to 4 basics, making them much easier to identify. These 4 are sad, mad, glad, and scared. By remembering these, we can have a basic navigation of this inner watery realm of emotion.
We often confuse emotions with action words. We say things like " I feel betrayed" or "I feel abandoned" or "I feel alone". Betrayal, abandonment, and being alone are actions, not feelings. These terms imply that we have been victimized. They also imply that the person we are in conflict with is the perpetrator.

Here's a list of descriptive variations of emotions, for more accurate identification and communication.

Sad                             Mad                     Scared                  Glad        
sorrowful                     resentful                afraid                     happy    
melancholy                  irritated                  fearful                    content   
gloomy                       enraged                  frightened              satisfied    
heavy-hearted             furious                   timid                      rapturous   
mournful                     annoyed                 nervous                 enthusiastic
dull                             indignant                anxious                  inspired     
discouraged                bitter                     apprehensive          vivacious   
somber                      angry                      terrified                  exhilarated 
dismal                        infuriated                horrified                  joyous                     

Here are more variations, so that you may never again be at a loss for words.

Confident            Doubtful            Interested
secure                  skeptical              fascinated
 resolute               suspicious            curious
 certain                 hesitant                engrossed
 bold                    indecisive             intrigued
 determined          perplexed            concerned
                            wavering             absorbed

After witnessing your partner express their feelings, tell them what you now realize about them:

1) Do you recognize experiencing the same feelings they expressed in your own life?
2) What needs do you see they were attempting to get met as the conflict started?
3) How do you attempt to get these same needs met in your own life?
4) Tell them what needs you were attempting to get met when the conflict started.

As we recognize the needs of another in ourselves, our love and compassion deepens. We see that everyone has the same feelings and needs. We see ourselves in everyone and everyone in us. We see that it is through our humanity that we experience our Divinity, or Oneness with all Beings. We are motivated less by fear (based on the belief that we are separate). We live more out of being inspired by Love.

It's been said that in essence, there is only one choice; whether to be motivated by fear or inspired by Love. As we develop our "loving muscles" we choose fear less and less. Eventually we no longer choose fear. Once we have chosen love enough, we'll no longer choose fear. We no longer consider fear as an option. At this point, we experience the 'choice-less choice' of choosing only Love."

"Get into that state which is beyond thought,
beyond change, beyond imagination,
beyond differences and duality.
Once you have begun to get into that state and can stay there…you will see your own Self in everyone around you.
Then the flow of love from within you will be constant and unbroken." –Swami Muktananda

Conflict Resolution, Part 1

Ever have an argument and wonder how it spun so far out of control?
In this article, I offer some simple steps to assist in moving from the suffering we experience in conflict to the peace and gratitude of understanding and compassion.  These guidelines apply to all communication, whether your companion is a business partner or friend. Take some relaxed time with them to come to agreement as to how you can best apply these guidelines.

Take A "Time Out "

Agree on a time out signal, You may choose a signal unique to you, while your partner may choose one unique to them. This signal can be a peace sign or the time out sign used in sports.
Use whatever signal is easiest for you to remember. One that has no charge for either of you.

As soon as you recognize that you are feeling tense, defensive, or hurt, show the "time out" signal.
During this time out, allow yourself to recognize how your upset was not caused by them, but your reaction to them. This is a very important step. No one is the cause of our emotional and mental suffering, but us. Others may say and do things that trigger our reaction, but how we react is totally of our choosing.

Identify The "Software"

As you sit for this time out, become aware of the tension in your body and the emotions you're experiencing. Identifying just what you are experiencing physically and emotionally, is a significant step in the process of identifying that your reaction stems from an old belief you have likely carried much of your life. I call these old beliefs "software", because they are "programming" that is not part of our "hard drive" or who we really are

Notice the location of the tension in your body. This is important because we hold the tension from our "software' in specific places in our body  (termed "cellular memory").
Sensing this tension, we have a pointer to just which program we are "running".

Although there are myriad variations on emotions, they boil down to 4 basic emotions, making it much easier to identify what we are feeling. These 4 are sad, mad, glad, and scared. By remembering these, we can have a basic navigation of this inner watery realm of emotion.
We often confuse emotions with action words. We say things like " I feel betrayed" or "I feel abandoned". Betrayal and abandonment are actions, not feelings. These terms imply that we have been victimized. Next week I'll elaborate on communicating emotions.
When you have some clarity on your physical sensations and emotions you have taken a significant step away from blame and victim-hood to Self awareness and freedom.

The Talking Stick

Have an object available that will act as the talking stick. It can be anything; a pen, a comb, a key; any item within reach. Again, nothing that has a charge for either of you. When you return to talk, determine who is to talk first. Each person talks as long as they like while holding the "talking stick" as a reminder that they have the "floor".

Even though you have taken time apart, you may feel so heated about an issue that you find it difficult to listen while the other person speaks. When this is the case, consider the following.
When I talk to my wife about an issue I have with her, she may have an immediate emotional reaction, resulting in her focusing more on her reaction than being present with me. In this case, it actually works to my advantage to put my issue aside for the moment and listen to her, allowing her to express whatever she needs. Remember, you want your partner present with you and if s(he)'s clouded by his/her reaction, how present are they really gonna be for you?

Added benefits of this are that when you return to your issue, s(he) will be more present with you and  you may find that the intensity you felt earlier has lessened and been replaced with peace and gratitude. Why? I submit that it's because you have given them what you set out to get from them in the first place. You applied the Golden Rule.

"Be the example you want to see in the world" ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Creating a bridge

I think of the Golden Rule as a"bridge"to others. Become aware of what you want from others and as long as you offer it, you'll experience it.
All the reasons that we enter relationship (ie getting certain needs met, being understood, being accepted, receiving compassion, friendship,), can be boiled down to one one easy to remember reflection; "Have I built a bridge to this person"? Have I walked in their "shoes"? Do I have compassion for them?   Have I applied the Golden Rule?" Give to others what you want to receive from them.

This bridge is available to us in every relationship and is a tool that deepens our ability  to understand, have empathy, and compassion for others. The more we create bridges, the less conflict we experience. Eventually, creating bridges  becomes our natural approach to relationship.

Next week, I'll continue the theme of conflict resolution. I'll also share with you an amazing tool that tanscends the limitations of talking about issues. A tool to get immediately to the heart of the matter, to express it and quickly return to Love.

The Elixir Of Chanting

The Elixir Of Chanting

 Wed, Oct. 30th, 7-8:30pm

The Center For Spiritual Living, 2075 Occidental Rd. Santa Rosa

(707)546-4543. A by-donation event.
Join Sufi Dance leader Tui, chant leader Jens, Sahar on tablas, with Linda Weber (vocals), Bruce Haushuldt (gongs), & poet Neal Grace.

"Through chanting, love arises. If love arises, it means that you have attained God, because God’s true nature is love. By chanting the Name of God everything becomes pure and auspicious. The atmosphere becomes pure, even the earth and sky become pure. To chant the auspicious name of God is to make the tongue, the ears, and the heart auspicious and pure:"
~ Swami Muktananda

Celestial music in a beautiful sanctuary, with the lights down low;   a p.a. system that brings out the subtlest nuance, while creating a beautiful balance of voice and instrument; chanting with hundreds of fellow bliss seekers, this is a sublime venue.


On Privacy

"The world is as you see it" ~ Swami Muktananda

We now know that our government has been serveilling virtually every form of communication.
When someone is convinced that the world is filled with people who want to hurt them, they'll look under every stone and in every home to find them. They'll even create self-fulfilling prophecy scenarios that ineveitably give people reasons to oppose them.

While this may be a misdirected use of time and energy, it offers us an opportunity to explore our need for privacy?   What it is about our lives and our behaviors that we don't want seen and why?

What are we hiding?

I asked a dear friend this question on a walk the other morning. This friend shall remain anonymous and from this point on, shall only be referred to as "my wife". I asked her what she thought and felt regarding her/our need for privacy. She said "I'm not afraid of the government. I have done nothing wrong. I'm not important to them. I have no money anyways". She just said a "mouthfull!  To the degree that she could find no wrongdoing in her life was she relaxed.

When we can find nothing wrong with our behavior and no reason why another would want something from us, we tell ourselves that its ok to relax. But what if we have done something that we are ashamed of or embarrassed about? Should we then hide this information? There are things in our life that we tell ourselves noone will understand and everyone will judge; possibly condemn us for.

Two years into my first marriage I had an affair. I lied outright to my wife. This was very painful! I was thinking that I had done something so shameful that it needed to be hidden from her. I told her lies that just perpetuated this pain. Our relationship eroded and erupted until I could'nt handle it any longer. Telling her the truth was the most freeing thing I could have done. When I finally confronted my fear and shared openly, I felt great relief and freedom.
Another gift of sharing openly was that I learned from the depth of pain of having had an affair that I didn't want to do that again.

"What you think of me is none of my business."

Live large. Share your life with others. Share you stories and your withholds. Because as long as you keep them locked up you wont know freedom. As you continue living openly, you'll realized that there is nothing within you (or anyone) that is worthy of our shrinking from life.

"Security is mostly a superstition.
It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it.
Avoiding dange is no safer in the long run than outright exposure.
Life is either a daring advenure of nothing." ~Helen Keller

"What I think of me is none of my business."

When we hide any aspect of our lives, whether it's behaviors, our past, or our beliefs, vital energy is utilized in it's repression.This steals away from our physical and emotional well being and our clarity of thought. While living trasnparently is true intimacy. We look to others to love us, but when we live freely, we are loving ourselves. Think of intimacy as "into me you see". When we live openly we feel a deep satisfaction, a sweet gratitude, and a sublime peace. May we all know this Peace.

My friend Neal Grace has written eloquently on this subject. Here are some of his thoughts.

"I understand that no one wants his or her personal life to be laid bare for all to know the nuances of what goes on behind walls, I am not sure what all the fuss is about when it comes to being seen without the facades we show the outside world.  What are we hiding? What is so private and so secretive that we need to fight desperately to protect? And from whom? What are we guarding as if the exposure of it will render us doomed?

"Being authentic requires us to remove the layers of protection and invulnerability from our selves. There is power in transparency. There is a life-force in being unencumbered that connects us with the juice of the universe! When we live in fear, we surround ourselves with a complex cloak of caution that will only make us a slave to a possible perceived threat. This weakens our resolve to live freely and to thrust ourselves into each moment with all of our passion and gusto.

"The more we can allow our layers of protection to dissolve for lack of need to feed our insecurities, the wilder life becomes. Life does not want us all tied up in a package, reducing our capacity to breathe. No matter how hard we push to find security, we will fail. We fail because there is no security that can assuage the insatiable need of the fragile egos ruling us. Mastering the ego is a simple thing to achieve. All you have to do is honor your entire self! Then no one and no thing—certainly not the huge slug of the government—can have dominion over you!

"You say it is impossible to worship your entire self because of all the hurts, pain, suffering, disillusionment, and piercing rejections you have had to endure since you were a baby. No doubt it is impossible to measure the weight of these crippling traumas to your body, mind, heart and soul! You and I and everyone else have survived unspeakable wounds.

"But what else is there in life than to be so wildly brave you drop to your knees and offer a benediction to the cherished being that you are? What freedom to live will accept anything less than this, anything that resembles a compromise? Either you live by loving the very existence you are, or you stumble through the canyons and deserts and jungles of life with one eye closed and your tongue kept shut in your mouth for fear of condemnation for the words you may utter. Either you stand up as a mighty temple made of the timbers of your virtues and the fibers of your beliefs or you crawl through the brackish waters with a heavy weight tied to your legs.

"What has all this got to do with privacy? Everything! Don’t cower before the world, protecting your little secrets when these very things are leeches that drain you of your life-force. Stand up! Fear no person! The more you offer what lives inside you, the more the world can celebrate the legacy you leave in every waking moment! Playing half dead is no fun. If you want to act half asleep then hang out in a mortuary.

 "Let us all become champions of a transparent self. Let each of us unfurl the banner of who we are so that it blows freely in the winds of life. Let us shout our joy and passion and love so the whole world reverberates in the thunder of our voices! When we do this, we become the instruments playing the music of God!".
I end with a quote of Marrianne Williamson's, read by Nelson Mandela during his inauguration.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” ~ Marrian Wiliamson.