“Truth is indestructible. It seems history shows (and it’s the same way today) that the innovator is more often than not met with some degree of condemnation; usually according to the degree of departure from the prevailing modes of expression or what have you. Change is always hard to accept…. Quite often they are the rejects, outcasts, sub-citizens, etc. of the very societies to which they bring so mush sustenance… Whatever the case, whether accepted or rejected, rich or poor, they are forever guided by that great and eternal constant – the creative urge. Let us cherish it and give all praise to God.”
John Coltrane

Coltrane - The Story of a Sound

Portugal – Porto Covo

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Annelieke’s father has joined us for a couple of days and a combination of spontaneity, alcohol and misguided navigation sent us on a long day that started in Vila Novo de Milfontes, continued to Porto Covo and Odemira.

The screen on my Panasonic LX3 camera died (I’m already in the process of ordering spare parts to fix it) so these images were taken with Annelieke’s Canon DSLR … which I am grateful is around, is way more bulky to carry and using it for a while has reaffirmed my preference for Nikon DSLRs (in terms of user experience, not necessarily image quality).

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Placenta and Curing Cancer

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Could it be that placenta, that which nourishes life, may inspire a cure for cancer?

“The hunt for a vaccine against malaria in pregnant women has provided an unexpected side benefit …

… the malaria parasite attaches itself to in the placenta in pregnant women is identical to a carbohydrate found in cancer cells. In the laboratory, scientists have created the protein that the malaria parasite uses to adhere to the placenta and added a toxin. This combination of malaria protein and toxin seeks out the cancer cells, is absorbed, the toxin released inside, and then the cancer cells die.

… For decades, scientists have been searching for similarities between the growth of a placenta and a tumor. The placenta is an organ, which within a few months grows from only few cells into an organ weighing approx. two pounds, and it provides the embryo with oxygen and nourishment in a relatively foreign environment. In a manner of speaking, tumors do much the same, they grow aggressively in a relatively foreign environment …”

… ironically though …

“It would appear that the only snag is the fact that the treatment would not be available for pregnant women.”

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Houshi

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A short movie about a Japanese hotel that was founded and has been run by the same family for over 1300 years. Not much about the hotel in this movie, but so much subtle and less subtle information about Japanese culture.

Houshi (english) from Fritz Schumann on Vimeo.

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Protected: Family Visit September 2015

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Summer 2015 continues Off and On the Yoga Mat

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I arrived with a steady and evolving on-the-mat practice. It came to a sudden stop when a spring allergy suddenly kicked in. It took most of July for me to settle back into a practice … and then a lower back problem started.

It felt like a muscular pain in my left-lower back … so not quite a spine issue. It started gradually but quickly became very disruptive. One morning I got on the mat and I was able to do a delicate (cikitsa version) of a practice. The next day forward bends were no longer possible. Very soon, the only comfortable position was standing up. I continued to do things that didn’t place physical load on my back and didn’t require any twisting … basically standing facing forward. Resting became an issue … I found a sitting position that I could hold for a while … but lying down was uncomfortable and I developed a fear of getting up because that required very careful manipulation and still hurt.

The peak came the morning after Annelieke arrived for a visit. I woke up early, uncomfortable and wanted to get up without disturbing her. I decided to get up in one swift movement … bad choice. It hurt a lot – though I am still not convinced there was a slower path that would have hurt less. I bit my lip to contain the pain and after a few seconds started walking towards the bench where my clothes were. I made it just in time to place a hand on the bench. Then I feinted and fell to the floor … the sound of me hitting the floor woke her up. I came to after a few seconds and was barely able to make my way back to standing. Eventually I did, and I sat on the bench … where I feinted again … this time with Annelieke holding me.

My aching back kept me off the mat for most of August. When September came around I slowly my found way back to the mat. I was surprised by the improvement I felt in my practice every day. within a week I was back to almost full mobility. There was still stiffness in my lower back and shoulders and three weeks into September those were almost gone too.

Then my family arrived for a a first visit in Romania and I was again away from the mat. Annelieke also arrived to be with my family and brough some slight illness with her. It seems I picked it up and shortly after my family left I fell ill. This was the end of September. A week later Annelieke and I traveled to Portugal – where I am now writing this post … just now starting to fell like the sickness is behind me. I may be able to find some practice time here, but I expect a stable practice will resume when I am back in Bhudeva (in about two weeks).

When I look back at these last few months I encounter two perspectives. One is of a period of sickness … too much sickness. I have become familiar with the recurring allergy period … but this continuous cycle has been unpleasant, demanding and disheartening. The other perspective is one of wonder. Though the sickness has kept me off-the-mat is hasn’t kept me from practice … maybe even practice that touches on a deep and subtle place. As always, my “patience” muscles have gotten a good workout. I have also noticed that when I do find my way back to the mat I “heal” quicker than I expect.

I am also finding that my sense of physical being gets subtly refined in every off-on cycle. By being patient with my breath during allergy my breath gets slightly better … softer, more spacious, more steady. By being caring with my back when it is hurt I am able to move it with more depth … more movement in more places, more directional support, more abdominal support. By allowing sickness time to fade and practice time to heal I feel self-trust and acceptance being reinforced. It is as if the periods of sickness-of-the-mat are not obstacles to practice but detours of subtle learning on my practice path.

I have over recent years come to realize that my aspiration is not just to return to the mat when I am away from it. It is to return to a stable and continuous practice. For example, right now I don’t feel a sense of urgency in getting back to the mat because I am here in Portugal in an unknown day-to-day setting. I may get on the mat if I want to and circumstances allow it. However I am just as content waiting to meet-the-mat only when I am back at Bhudeva. I am not interested in a one-off practice … I am interested in resuming a continuous practice. This summer has showed me that I am fairly well established in this pattern.

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