Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year's programs from Spirituality & Practice

Happy New Year from Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

We are delighted to announce that we have a new series of e-courses on Spirituality & Practice -- 21-day programs designed to help you change a habit and establish a new practice, which recovery programs tell us takes three weeks.

As we wrote in Spiritual Rx, people come to the spiritual life in many ways and for different reasons — but most of us, frankly, are drawn to spirituality because, as a doctor might say, certain symptoms are "presenting."

So we've taken four common symptoms many of us face regularly and developed 21-day email programs to help you work with them. Each email contains a brief quotation from a spiritual teacher on the subject and a way for you to practice the thought during the day. Available on-demand (you choose start date and frequency - though we recommend the daily schedule), these programs are ways for you to jump-start your personal transformation in 2008.

Beating the Blahs - Get back your resolve and get over feeling stuck.

Dealing with Disappointment - Examine the causes and teachings of this common feeling.

Fear Busters - Quotes and exercises to help you break the fear habit.

Letting Go - Experience the freedom that comes from releasing things.

Sign up today and start on the path to personal transformation in 2008!

Current E-Course Schedule Coming Soon

We will be announcing the schedule of Practicing Spirituality E-Courses for 2008 later this week, so watch the website and your inbox for that announcement. These are the 40-day programs that run for specific times and also have Practice Circles where participants can share their experiences with the courses and provide mutual support.

We're planning more courses with spiritual master, courses on the world's religions, and an e-course on Practicing Spirituality during Illness. We can tell you that the first new current e-course will not begin until February 1, so you have just enough time to get in a 21-day course before embarking on one of those journeys!

We look forward to spending 2008 practicing spirituality with you. To remind ourselves and you of some of our core commitments, we've created a downloadable version of our Spiritually Literate New Year's Resolutions. You can get it here.

Salaam, Shalom, Peace,

Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

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Friday, December 21, 2007

Do the Holidays Have You Feeling Blue?

Counseling Corner 12.03.07
from the American Counseling Association
sponsored by the ACA Foundation

It's the holiday season and everywhere people are happy and excited...except you. Instead, you're feeling stressed and depressed. It's called the "holiday blues" and it's a fairly common condition, though one often hidden behind false holiday smiles.

One reason the holiday season can seem depressing is that it comes at a time when we may be mentally summing up the year, especially its troubles and shortcomings. Year-end memories commonly focus on problems of the past year -- illnesses, loss of loved ones, work or relationship problems, or things falling short of our expectations -- rather than the positive happenings of the year.

The holidays are also a busy time. Added to the normal stresses of daily living are the anxieties of gift buying, holiday parties, family issues, social obligations and other stress-inducers of this season.

Holiday media images can also leave us with impossibly perfect holiday expectations. Advertising, TV shows, and magazine stories are present wonderful family holidays that never happen in real life, but still leave us feeling that we're falling short of how things should be.All these complications of the season can certainly leave us feeling blue, but there are steps to take to minimize their effect on our emotional state.

A healthy lifestyle is a good start. Instead of overeating or drinking excessively because you're feeling stressed, make conscious decisions to enjoy holiday food and drink, but to do so in moderation. At non-party times, choose tasty low-fat foods. You'll feel better and avoid the stress of holiday weight gain.

Other healthy lifestyle decisions include getting enough sleep and exercise. A brisk daily walk in the sunshine is a very effective way to fight depression. Studies also fine even moderate exercise can reduce stress and mild depression.

You also want to stay connected. Feeling sad often causes people to withdraw and isolate themselves. Instead, make a real effort to spend time with friends, to call or write those you care about and to remember past good times you've enjoyed with these people.

Simply talking about your holiday feelings with friends can also help. Their support and comfort can make a real difference. And while the holiday blues are usually only temporary and fairly mild, talk to a counseling professional if your depression feels deeper and more than just a symptom of the season.

"The Counseling Corner" is provided as a public service by the American Counseling Association, the nation's largest organization of counseling professionals. Learn more about the counseling profession at the ACA web site,

Uninsured have lower cancer survival rates

"A new report by a major US cancer charity has found that uninsured Americans are less likely to survive cancer, less likely to be screened for it, and more likely to have an advanced stage of the disease once they are diagnosed, compared with Americans on health insurance."

Amercian Cancer Society complete article, 2007/12/20:
Report Links Health Insurance Status With Cancer Care

Grapefruit & possible breast cancer connection

There is a growing list of drugs that interact with grapefruit and grapefruit juice, due to its ability to alter liver metabolism. Grapefruit juice slows activity of the liver enzyme that metabolizes Lipitor, for instance, thus increasing the possible side-effects of the drug.

Now there is preliminary evidence that regular consumption of grapefruit in a post-menopausal woman's diet can increase breast cancer incidence, due to grapefruit's inhibition of CYP3A4, an isoenzyme that metabolizes estrogen.

In the Hawaii-Los Angeles Multiethnic Cohort Study, women in the highest intake category—60 grams or more per day, equal to slightly more than one-quarter grapefruit per day or half a grapefruit every other day—had a relative risk of breast cancer 30% higher than women who ate no grapefruit. The trend of increasing risk with increasing consumption was significant after adjusting for weight, exercise, use of postmenopausal hormone therapy, family history of breast cancer, and other factors that could impact risk.

"The results are consistent with a biological effect of grapefruit on estrogen metabolism. At least 2 previous studies have found higher estrogen levels in women consuming grapefruit or grapefruit juice, the authors note, and grapefruit is known to elevate serum concentrations of many drugs, including hormone replacement therapies. The US Food and Drug Administration requires hormone replacement products to carry warning labels stating that grapefruit juice may increase plasma concentrations of estrogen."

Lead study author Kristine R. Monroe, PhD, Research Associate in the Department of Preventive Medicine at the University's Keck School of Medicine stresses, however, that there's not yet enough evidence to recommend women stop eating grapefruit as a means of lowering their breast cancer risk. "I would use caution until further studies are done and a scientific conclusion can be reached."

Sunday, December 16, 2007



By Venerable Losang Samten

At the Chico State University BMU

Jan 28th- March 1st (Tues-Sun 10am-5pm)


at the
Chico Family Masonic Center
February 16 & 17

A rare, historic and sacred event will be at the University of California in Chico. Come to the Bell Memorial Union and experience this one month long process of creating the ancient Kalachakra Sand Painting referred to as "The Wheel of Time". The Dalai Lama has given permission to Losang Samten to create this mandala in Chico. Losang is highly skilled in this meditational art from Tibet's monasteries which is intended to bring peace and healing to all its viewers, as well as to the environment. The path of its colors has symbolic meaning in every detail and is said to trace the progression toward the state of Awakening and Inner Peace.

Losang is scheduled to be at the BMU Tuesdays-Sundays from 10-5 working on the mandala. He enjoys and encourages questions as well as dialogue, and is a wonderful storyteller. While taking breaks he shares these tales. Every story will lead the listener into the heart of Tibet's deep teachings on wisdom and compassion.

All are welcome! In addition there will be evening teachings and programs on and off campus, as well as teachings for various on campus classes. Daily notices will be posted near the mandala for these details.

The opening ceremony will be on January 28th and the closing will be on March 1st. Don't miss this. The sand of this exquisite painting will be collected, some distributed to those present and the rest poured into the nearby creek. The message is that all things are impermanent, highlighting the idea of not getting "too attached". You will feel the peace of a tradition carried on by a living master of this art.

Some Special Dates
Feb 6 - Tea Ceremony - Spiritual Enrichment Center, 2565 California Park Drive, Chico. 7-9 pm Suggested donation $10.00

Feb 12 - International Forum - Holt Rm 5:00-5:50pm, open to public.

Feb 13 - Sacred Tibetan Dance - Spiritual Enrichment Center, 2565 California Park Drive 7-9 pm Suggested donation $10.00.

Feb 16-17 - Tibetan Cultural Festival, Masonic Family Center, 1110 East W. East Avenue, Chico 9 am - 7 pm.

Feb 19 - Religious Studies lecture - 4-5:15 pm Humanities Center open to public.

Feb 22 - Tea Ceremony - Church or Religious Studies Paradise, 789 Billie Rd
6:30 pm Suggested donation $10.00.

Feb 24 - 1 Day Buddhist Retreat - Masonic Family Center, 1110 W. East Avenue, Chico 10 am -4 pm.

email Shanta at

Tara, a Christmas Star of Peace

I so enjoyed this Christmas message in a recent Dharma Tapestry newsletter from Richard Rudis, I am offering it here for your enjoyment. Richard is the man who performs Gong Baths and teaches vibrational healing through the use of traditional Himalayan instruments such as singing bowls and tingshas. His concerts and trainings are very popular in California, Colorado and the Chicago area.

Tara, a Christmas Star of Peace
Knowing something of Christian and Buddhist traditions it occurred to me that the Buddhist Bodhisattva ‘Arya Tara’, (‘Bringer of Life’, the ‘Compassionate Mother’, the ‘Embodiment of Wisdom’), is the perfect model for the Christian Christmas Star. In Sanskrit her name means ‘Shining’ and in Hindi ‘Star’.

Her two principle emanations; White Tara and Green Tara portray the long associated qualities surrounding the birth of Christ; peace embodied, transcendent wisdom, compassion, love, protection and healing. As the light of that special star guided and illuminated the profound birth so the ‘Star Tara’ empowers enlightened activity arising from pure compassion and wisdom. Just as the Magi were guided by the Shining Star of the East so too were numerous Tibetan refugees, fleeing the horrors of occupied Tibet, guided by Tara over the Himalayan mountains to freedom and safety.

Tradition tells us that Tara will assume any form to help those in need. Indeed there appears to be a manifestation of her found in virtually every culture known on Earth. Five thousand years ago in what is now Finland there was a group known as the ‘Tar’ or the ‘Women of Wisdom’. The Celts called their great goddess ‘Tara’; she who is bathed with spiritual energy. The latin word for earth, ‘Terra’, echoes her presence. She is ‘Kuan Yin’ in China, ‘Tarahumara’ in South America, ‘Star Woman’ to the native Cheyenne and ‘IshTar’ in ancient Egypt. She is an archetype of our own inner wisdom, our inner knowing, that guides and protects us as we navigate the samsaric depths and storms of life. Her teachings reminds us of our shared oneness in spirit and creation. Her shining in this world is embodied in her vow; “I shall work for the welfare of all beings, until such time as all humanity has found its fullness."

Surely this is the Star of Christ, the Star of love, compassion, understanding, wisdom and the deepest meaning of Christmas.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to All - Richard Rudis

Dharma Tapestry is a free monthly email newsletter that promotes understanding, tolerance, compassion, and awareness of eastern philosophy.

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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Being... H. W. Longfellow

HeartQuotes is a trademark of Quantum Intech, Inc. Copyright © 2007, HeartMath LLC All rights reserved.

National Healthcare - NPR Science Friday report on Candidates

National Public Radio's weekly presentation of Science Friday (12-14-07) talked about the prospects for a national healthcare initiative among the many candidates. There is little to nothing said about this in the national media, so I thought I would share this resource. There are also two websites that were mentioned, offering the proposed policies of the various candidates. You can listen to the radio show in its entirety here, as well as follow links to the guest speakers:

The American College of Physicians website reviews 6 benchmarks to help you analyze the health platforms of the 2008 presidential candidates:

Kaiser Family Foundation offers this analysis of the presidential candidate healthcare proposals here: