5 Key Words Every Spiritual Person Needs To Know (Part 2)

live an authentic life

live an authentic life

Rob Bell, well-known author, shares a few words that can change how you think  about yourself and the world. Adapted and excerpted from What We Talk About When We Talk About God .

Did you miss Part 1?  http://www.coolmona.com/?p=8325

 3. The Word: Ruach (Ancient Hebrew)

What it means: “An explosive, expansive, surprising, creative energy that surges through all things, holding everything all together and giving the universe its life and depth and fullness.”
When—and how—to use it: When we want to “talk about those moments, when an object or gesture or word or event is what it is, but is also more, at the same time, something more.” For example: “It was a meal, but it was more than a meal; just as it was a conversation and yet more than a conversation.”
Why we need it: “In our modern world, people understand spirit to mean something less real, less tangible, less substantive—something nonphysical, something that may or may not exist. But when the Hebrews spoke of the ruach, they weren’t talking about something less real; they were talking about what happens when something becomes more real, right before your eyes…The challenge is for me and you to become more and more the kind of people who are aware of the divine presence, attuned to the ruach, present to the depths of each and every moment.”

4. The Word: Splagchnon (Greek)

What it means: “The deep place within us where our desires reside. Splagchnon translates literally as bowel or intestines or guts or innards. It came to refer to the part of you from which you truly live, the seat of your being that drives you to move and act and touch and feel.”
When—and how—to use it: “[When] we need to face and know and name and embrace all that is true about us, from our fears and addictions and doubts and guilt to our dreams and desires and hopes and longings.”
Why we need it: “What happened in the Western world several hundred years ago is that the rational dimensions of our being gained a prominence over other ways of knowing. This had a powerful effect, leading many of us to discount the very real and reliable information our bodies are constantly absorbing from the world around us. This isn’t just about listening and trusting our bodies, but also about the far more important responsibility we have to honor them as the gifts they are.”

5. The Word: Echad (Hebrew)

What it means: “A unity made up of many parts.”
When to use it: “We have an intuitive awareness that everything is ultimately connected to everything else. When you get a glimpse of what someone else has gone through or is currently in the throes of and you find yourself inextricably, mysteriously linked with that person because you have been reminded again of our common humanity.”
Why we need it: “We live in a dis-integrated culture, in which headlines and opinions and images and sound bites pound us with their fragmented, frantic, isolated blips and squeaks, none of it bound together by any higher unity, coherence, or transcendent reference point. This fragmentation can easily shape us, convincing us that things aren’t one. But everything has a singular, common source and is infinitely, endlessly, deeply connected. We are involved, all of us. And it all matters.”

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5 Key Words Every Spiritual Person Needs To Know

days gone by

days gone by

Rob Bell, best-selling author, shares a few words that can change how you think  about yourself and the world.

1. The Word: Kavod (Ancient Hebrew)

What it means: “The awareness of the importance of things. Kavod originally was a business term, referring to weights and measures. Over time the word began to take on a more figurative meaning, referring to the importance and significance of something.”
When—and how—to use it:Kavod is what happens when you’re exchanging the usual ‘How are yous?’ with a person you see regularly, only on this particular day she doesn’t respond with her normal, ‘Fine, and you?’ but instead says, ‘Not good’—and suddenly everything changes. Now the conversation is no longer brief and shallow like it has been for years, because now it weighs something, it is significant, it matters. She matters; you matter; the fact that she decided to be honest with you matters; the thing that is happening between you matters.”
Why Bell believes we need it: “The word is often used in the scriptures to refer to that which happens when the monotony is pierced, the boredom hijacked, the despair overpowered by your sense that something else is going on, something that reminds you of your smallness, frailty, and impermanence. It’s that gut-level awareness you’re seized by that tells you, ‘Pay attention, because this matters.’”

2. The Word: Grenzbegrifflich (German)

What it means:Grenzbegrifflich describes that which is very real but is beyond analysis and description.”
When—and how—to use it: When you confront “those things that you absolutely, positively know to be true but would be hard-pressed to produce evidence for if asked.” Such as, “explaining how that particular song moves you or articulating why you fell in love with that person.”

Why we need it: “‘To believe that there’s more going on here, that there may be a reality beyond what we can comprehend—that’s something else. That’s being open. There are other ways of knowing than only those of the intellect.”

Cool Mona Note: 3 more tomorrow. The holidays can seem lonely, and if so, hang out with us. A warm community of seekers and strugglers.

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A Cool Mona Recipe: A Christmas Clementine Pomander (With The Smoky Version Of Tequila!)

a different and beautiful drink for the holidays

a different and beautiful drink for the holidays

An aromatic cocktail with the most beautiful garnish I’ve ever seen – a slice of clementine studded with cloves. This cocktail has an interesting twist, however. It has a mezcal base, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying it, the smoky version of tequila works very well here. (Espadín is the genetic mother of the Blue Weber Agave used in Tequila production.) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3H6amDbAwlY

Christmas Clementine Pomander

This recipe comes from the KTCHN Restaurant in New York City and celebrates a sweet fruit we can look forward to on winter days. Going beyond the fresh clementine, the drink also takes on a very aromatic citrus aspect, just like its namesake, the pomander.

The Christmas Clementine Pomander uses mezcal as the base spirit, and the Vago Espadin is a particularly nice brand of this often notorious liquor. Mezcal has come into its own lately and brands like that one are transforming what we thought we knew about it. If you have been turned off by mezcal in the past, give this one a try.

For the lime mix, I use the first method in this sour mix recipe, but use lime juice alone. (The recipe: Combine 1 cup sugar with 1 cup water until sugar is completely dissolved. Add 1 cup fresh lime juice and 1 cup fresh lemon juice and refrigerate.)

  • Prep Time: 3 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 minutes
  • Yield: 1 Cocktail
  1. Muddle the clementine and brown sugar in a highball glass.
  2. Add mezcal, orange juice, lime mix, mint leaves, and fill with ice.
  3. Stir.
  4. Top with club soda.
  5. Garnish with a clementine slice studded with cloves.
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A Cool Mona Masterpiece: The Great Barrier Reef In Slo-Mo

It took photographer Daniel Stoupin 9 months and 150,000 shots to compile and present to you these 3 ½ minutes of visual wonder. An enormous thank you to him because were it not for his meticulous efforts, we might never know of these secret, colorful lives that exist beneath the water. Imagine what the world would look like if we always slowed down and savored the details?


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8 More (Odd) Things To Be Grateful For

beautiful owl sketch by my friend, tim

beautiful owl sketch by my friend, tim

Evidence You Can Still Turn Your Health Around

Did you spend your 20s crying into a pint of Ben & Jerry’s? New research reveals that you haven’t doomed your arteries. Making changes as late as your 30s and 40s—eating better, quitting smoking or becoming more active—can reduce your risk of heart disease.

It May Be Possible to Lose Weight While You Sleep

Before you crank up the heat, consider the recent finding that sleeping in colder temperatures (specifically, 66 degrees) can increase brown fat, a so-called good fat that helps you burn calories and boosts your metabolism.

Learning To Handle Telemarketers

I’m grateful that I’ve finally learned how to keep telemarketers from calling back. When they start their spiel, I simply say that before they continue, I must explain that ‘this call may be recorded for purposes of review by the New York State Bureau of Fraud.’ Not sure whether that particular institution actually exists, but it works every time.”

Presidential Greetings

The fist bump may be cheesy when attempted by anyone but a sitting president or a 15-year-old boy, but it spreads 90 percent fewer germs than a handshake, according to a recent study. An opinion piece in The Journal of the American Medical Association called for handshakes to be banned in hospitals and other healthcare settings.

You Could Easily Skip Town Right Now

Does holiday family time make you want to flee the state? With the new Flight Tonight app, you can escape in the next 24 hours (when fares can occasionally be had at bargain prices). Choose your airport of departure, and you’ll get a list of available flights to both national and international destinations. Book a reservation through your phone and pack your bag. (Free; iTunes)

It’s Not Too Late to Learn Shakespeare

The addictive Poems by Heart from Penguin Classics app lets you memorize poetry while playing on your phone. Choose from works by Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson and other literary greats and challenge yourself to a fill-in-the-blank game that’s simple and miraculously effective. When you’ve aced all five stages, record your recital and send it to a paramour. (Free, including four poems; additional packs of three poems, $1 each; iTunes)

Anger, Guilt and Anxiety

According to psychologists Todd Kashdan and Robert Biswas-Diener, authors of the new book The Upside of Your Dark Side, these emotions, while unpleasant, can help make us the best versions of ourselves: Anger fuels creativity, guilt sparks improvement and self-doubt makes us aim higher with our actions.

Your Sinkful of Dirty Dishes

Household drudgery can be meditative, according to Buddhist writer Dana Velden, who lives by the modern Zen saying “When you wash the dishes, the dishes also wash you.” By paying attention to the scent of the soap, the temperature of the water and the subtle sounds of splashing, Velden says, you can wash away not just the grease, but also the petty concerns of your day. Need help focusing? “Use a really nice soap, like White Tea and Bamboo by J.R. Watkins,” she suggests. “And turn on some soothing or joyful music, like a Bach cello suite.”

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10 Moving Quotes From The Book “Wild”

beauty catches me off guard

beauty catches me off guard

Did you read the book? The movie is now out at major theaters. 10 moving quotes from WILD, the true story of a solo woman hiking the Pacific Coast Trail in search of herself.

Fear, to a great extent is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story from the one women are told. I decided I was safe. I was strong. I was brave.

It was my life – like all lives, mysterious and irrevocable and sacred. So very close, so very present, so very belonging to me. How wild it was, to let it be.

Uncertain as I was I pushed forward, I felt right in my pushing, as if the effort itself meant something.

I was amazed that what I needed to survive could be carried on my back. And, most surprising of all, that I could carry it. That I could bear the unbearable.

Alone had always felt like an actual place to me, as if it weren’t a state of being, but rather a room where I could retreat to be who I really was.

I considered my options. There were only two and they were essentially the same. I could go back in the direction I had come from, or I could go forward in the direction I intended to go.

I’d finally come to an understanding to what it had been: a yearning for a way out, when actually what I had wanted to find was a way in.

The universe, I’d learned, was never ever kidding. It would take whatever it wanted and it would never give it back.

The father’s job is to teach his children how to be warriors, to give them the confidence to get on the horse and ride into battle when it’s necessary to do so. If you don’t get that from your father, you have to teach yourself.

Of all the things I’d been skeptical about, I didn’t feel skeptical about this: the wilderness had a clarity that included me.

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A Cool Mona Weekly Masterpiece: Breakfast Cereal Boozy Drinks

photo of mixed cereal by Geoff Spear

photo of mixed cereal by Geoff Spear

It’s a great trend and for most Americans who grew up on a cereal-heavy diet, we know why. That sweet “cereal milk’ left behind was just the best. Mixologists are reminding us of our childhood in an oh-so pleasant way. Drinks!

Christina Tosi, pastry chef at NYC’s Momofuku Milk Bar, has put it to good use. She steeps toasted corn flakes in milk and creates an intensely flavorful White Russian.

Chef Wylie Ballinger of the Washington, D.C. Satellite Room recently debuted 6 Breakfast Cereal Boozy Milkshakes, like Bacardi rum with Fruity Pebbles or Lucky Charms with Paddy’s Irish whiskey.

At NYC’s BLT Bar & Grill, the blackboard special Drunken Sailor cocktail includes Cap’n Crunch-infused milk, Soli vanilla and Chambord. For that extra kick, a cereal rim is added for major crunch factor.

Holstein’s is the glammed-up burger joint at The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas. Pastry chef Rebecca Bills pulverizes Cap’n Crunch and Froot Loops directly into the milk and creates a smooth, silky base for her Cereal Bowl cocktail. Here’s how to make one:

Cereal Bowl Bamboozled Shake 2.0

3 scoops vanilla ice cream

1 oz. vanilla vodka

1/4 cup Cap’n Crunch cereal

1/4 cup Froot Loops cereal

Whole milk, as needed

Whipped cream (garnish)

Place all ingredients in a blender and mix until smooth. Pour into a glass and top with whipped cream, Froot Loops and Cap’n Crunch.

Cool Mona Note: Hey, what about Cocoa Puffs? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n6j4TGqVl5g

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10 Things I Do Every Day To Beat Depression (Part 3)

here's to a day that does not feel like Chuck E. Cheese Kids Eat Free Day

here’s to a day that does not feel like Chuck E. Cheese Kids Eat Free Day

Therese Borchard is an amazing writer on anxiety and depression. She totally gets it. And by the way, did you get the post from yesterday?

The first ones are here: http://www.coolmona.com/?p=8230.

Part 2 is here:  http://www.coolmona.com/?p=8249

And Part 3 is below:

8. Avoid sugar and grains.

Bestsellers “Grain Brain” by renowned neurologist David Perlmutter, M.D. and “Wheat Belly” by preventative cardiologist William Davis, M.D., should be required reading for anyone prone to depression and anxiety. Both authors explain that the cornerstone of all degenerative conditions–including depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder–is inflammation, and the most prominent stimulators of inflammation in our diet are gluten and sugar. We get into trouble because we can’t feel the inflammation in our brain like we can in other parts of the body, so we rarely link a kind of food we eat with our mood. Perlmutter points out that study after study demonstrates that people who suffer from mood disorders also tend to be gluten sensitive and vice versa: depression is found in as many as 52 percent of gluten-sensitive individuals. This was the case with me. I got tested two months ago. He also explains how we now have documented evidence proving the relationship between hemoglobin A1C (which indicates our average blood sugar) and the future risk of depression. Studies have shown that a diet that is low in carbohydrates and high in fat can improve symptoms of depression and schizophrenia.

9. Use my sun lamp.

This is by far the easiest thing I do on the list. Each morning I turn on the sun lamp on my desk. An hour later, I turn it off. It’s relatively small for producing full-spectrum fluorescent light at an intensity of 10,000 lux. If I have spent a few hours outside, or if I know I will be, I don’t bother. However, for most of the fall and winter months—and for the dark rainy days during the spring and the summer—my sunbox helps me regulate my circadian rhythm, the body’s internal biological clock that governs certain brain wave activity and hormone production. The fluctuation of natural light can cause mood-related chemicals to shift, causing depression in sensitive folks like myself. So if nature isn’t giving me what I need, I give it to myself.

10. Pray.

Lots of folks lump meditation and prayer together. I think they are very different. Meditation, for me, is a mental-health exercise of being aware of my breath and staying in the present moment as much as possible. Prayer is my chat session with God. I start by saying my three favorite prayers: “The Prayer of Saint Francis,” “The Serenity Prayer,” and “The Third Step Prayer.” All of them basically say this: “Big Guy, I’m putting you in charge today because, just like yesterday, my brain feels like Chuck E. Cheese on Kids Eat Free Night. I’m hoping you can use my struggle and my pain for some greater cause, and, if not, please don’t let me know that. Help me to see with eyes of faith, hope, and love, and to always err on the side of compassion.” Then I read a scripture passage, as well as a piece from a spiritual author, like Henri Nouwen. If I still have time, or if I’m especially anxious, I will pray the rosary over and over again, until I can catch my breath.

Cool Mona Note: I’m here for you. The holidays can be lonely so hang out with us, a warm community of seekers and strugglers. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GpFudDAYqxY


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The 10 Things I Do Every Day To Beat Depression (Part 2)

depression can feel  like a crack running right through me

depression can feel like a crack running right through me

Therese Borchard is an amazing writer on anxiety and depression. She totally gets it. And by the way, did you get the post from yesterday? The first ones are here: http://www.coolmona.com/?p=8230

4. Laugh.

Charlie Chaplin once said, “To truly laugh, you must be able to take your pain and play with it.” I suppose that’s why some of the funniest people out there— Stephen Colbert, Art Buchwald, Robin Williams, Ben Stiller—have journeyed through periods of torment. There is an unspoken message hidden within a giggle that says this: “I promise, you’ll get through this.” In fact, New York City’s Big Apple Circus has used humor to console sick children since 1986, when they started sending teams of clowns into hospital rooms with “rubber chicken soup” and other fun surprises.

Studies indicate that human beings can heal (at least partially) from a host of different illnesses if they learn how to laugh. For example, in 2006 researchers led by Lee Berk and Stanley A. Tan at Loma Linda University in Loma Linda, Califormia, found that two hormones—beta-endorphins (which alleviate depression) and human growth hormone (HGH, which helps with immunity) increased by 27 and 87 percent respectively when volunteers anticipated watching a humorous video. Simply anticipating laughter boosted health-protecting hormones and chemicals.

5. Meditate.

I’ve read more than 100 articles on how meditation can help relieve depression and anxiety. Research has shown that formal practices of meditation can halve the risk of future clinical depression in people who have already been depressed several times, its effects comparable to antidepressant medications. I swear it’s been the feature story of every health website at least once a week for the last five years. That’s how long I’ve been trying to do it. Unsuccessfully. Until I enrolled in a mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program at the local hospital. I have two more weeks to go before I graduate from meditation school and am far from wearing one of those radiant smiles that grace the faces of Tibetan monks; however, I have been able to follow through on my commitment of 20 minutes of meditation a day. Meditation, alone, doesn’t take away all of my symptoms of depression as some studies suggest it can, but I think it’s lengthening the time span between negative intrusive thoughts, or at least making my brain a less healthy environment for them to thrive.

6. Take DHA and vitamins.

Okay, this is coming from someone who gets vitamin catalogs sent to her house, but I believe that a brain armed with all the right nutrients is going minimize your struggle with depression by at least 50 percent. I start with 2,000 milligrams of DHA. That’s a motherload. But consider this: one quarter of the brain is DHA. David Perlmutter, M.D., names three reasons why you need extra DHA in his bestselling book “Grain Brain”:

DHA is an important building block for the membranes surrounding brain cells, particularly the synapses, which lie at the heart of efficient brain function. Second, DHA is an important regulator of inflammation. It naturally reduces the activity of the COX-2 enzyme, which turns on the production of damaging inflammatory chemicals….[And] DHA helps orchestrate the production, connectivity, and viability of brain cells while at the same time enhancing function.

I also take liquid vitamin D and vitamin B 12 (because they are more easily absorbed that way), as well as iron, vitamin K2, vitamin C, calcium, and magnesium. Vitamin D and B Complex vitamins are especially important for optimal mental health.

7. Drink a power smoothie.

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so I start off with a smoothie of kale, chard, spinach, or collard greens mixed with pineapple or strawberries. Then I add a potent probiotic, a powdery mix containing bacteria (yep, you read that right) that helps keep the intestines healthy and supports digestion. Why? Because your brain is only as healthy as your gut. In fact, the nervous system of your intestines is so complex, including an estimated 500 million neurons, that neuroscientists often refer to the gut as the second brain. The nerve cells in our gut manufacture 80 to 90 percent of our body’s serotonin, the neurotransmitter we need to stay sane. That’s more than our brain makes. The gut is in constant communication with the brain, sending it information that most definitely affects your mood, even as the messages never come to consciousness. If you are a person that has struggled with stomach and digestion issues like I have, you might be surprised to learn that some depression and anxiety symptoms can be relieved by attending to the gut and feeding it organisms that keep it happy.

Cool Mona Note: Some of the vitamin stuff seems overwhelming but she’s a lot more knowledgeable than me. I think Therese Borchard is savvy with depression and anxiety and so I pass all of this along. The last ones tomorrow. Hang in there.

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10 Things I Do Every Day To Beat Depression

this is what depression feels like...frost on an otherwise beautiful rose

this is what depression feels like…frost on an otherwise beautiful rose

Therese Borchard is an amazing writer on anxiety and depression. She totally gets it.

From the moment my eyes open in the morning until the second that I pull my sleep mask over my face as I go to sleep, I am engaged in battle: I must protect myself with armor against ongoing negative intrusive thoughts that flood into my brain, while sending my prefrontal cortex — the home of logical thought — the green light to make decisions and to take charge of my brain’s limbic system (the emotional hub). That is, before the amygdala (fear center) spazzes out. I spend more time and energy chasing and maintaining good health than I do in any other aspect of my life — my marriage, family, work — because I know that everything meaningful and good around me depends on a stable base. I hope that one day I won’t have to fight so hard for my sanity; however, until then, here is a list of things I do everyday to beat depression.

1. Swim.

I start the day in the pool. I show up before I can even think about what I’m doing diving into ten feet of cold water loaded with chlorine with a bunch of other nutjobs. Tom Cruise believes that all a depressed person needs to do to get rid of the blues is to strap on a pair of running shoes. I think a few other steps are needed, however, exercise is the most powerful weapon I use every day to whack the demons. If I go more than three days without working out, my thoughts turn very dark and I can’t stop crying. All aerobic workouts release endorphins, while helping to block stress hormones and produce serotonin, our favorite neurotransmitter that can relieve depression. (Cool Mona Note: I was encouraged to read about another’s experience with swimming and depression. I thought my feelings of out-there grooviness when swimming was just part of the craziness.)

However, swimming is particularly effective at shrinking panic and sadness because of the combination of stroke mechanics, breathing, and repetitiveness. It’s basically a form of whole-body, moving meditation. Volumes of research point to the benefits of exercise for mood, like the study led by James A. Blumenthal, PhD, a professor of medical psychology at Duke University in Durham, N.C., which discovered that, among the 202 depressed people randomly assigned to various treatments, three sessions of vigorous aerobic exercise were approximately as effective at treating depression as daily doses of Zoloft, when the treatment effects were measured after four months. (Cool Mona Note: So throw on those old, tired-out sneakers and go around the block. And if you can go around once, then you can go around twice. Don’t want to interact with the neighbors? Walk at night.)

2. Record my “joys.”

A very wise person once told me to try to let go of the big thoughts (“Why do I suffer from depression?” “When will I feel better?” “Will I ever feel good again?”) and concentrate instead on the little joys that happen throughout my day, to allow those unsuspecting moments of delight carry me over the ones fraught with anxiety and sadness. So each day I record in my mood journal a list of joys: a long swim with friends, my daughter’s little hand in mine as we crossed a street, my son’s proud expression after making a three-point basket, seven hours of sleep, a warm dinner. This exercise forces me to be open to little joys, to collect them, and to have more appreciation for what is right in front of me. Psychologists like Sonja Lyubomirsky, PhD, at the University of California Riverside say that keeping a gratitude journal (or a list of joys) can increase your energy, and relieve pain and fatigue.

3. List my accomplishments.

I started to do this when I was too depressed to work. As someone who had always attached her self-esteem to career achievements, I felt completely worthless when I couldn’t produce a single piece of writing. I read books by positive psychologists and happiness experts like Dan Baker, PhD, director of the Life Enhancement Program at Canyon Ranch, who said to start with small accomplishments, and build strength and confidence from there. So my list would include things like: ate a full breakfast, took a shower, picked up the kids from school, called my mom, got groceries, wrote my husband a loving email, read a chapter of a book. Today I make sure to record all my efforts toward good health: I list how many laps I swam, how many minutes I meditated, if I helped someone with his depression, or if I made a difficult food choice (ate a boring spinach salad at lunch when everyone was eating tasty calzones). I will record work feats (i.e., wrote a blog), but I make sure to balance out my list with the kinds of small but important accomplishments that I often dismiss (helped my son with his school project, talked to a friend about anxiety, had tea with my husband instead of rushing to work).

Cool Mona Note: Therese Borchard’s stuff is worth reading, so more tomorrow. Right here with you.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OoAeSyWoUCg



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