Rough Starting in 2024

This year has been challenging in a new kind of way.

Mostly, this is due to a client deciding that they were just not going to pay me for a contract. Right when I was finishing up. It was really disappointing, because I was building this awesome new shed and had finished the framing for the roof and the walls and brought out the metal sheeting for the roof and some concrete hardy board for the walls, both of which were very cool new outdoor building products from Texas. I was ready to make a masterpiece. Then this person just decided that they needed to cancel; no real reason.

I worked on this project for over a month. The whole thing sits on a massive French drain that I built one top of 6 large footings. The shed’s infrastructure came out pretty good in the end, once another guy came in a finished it for less money. Unfortunately, I have no recourse because I still don’t have my landscaping license; which is bullshit to begin with. This whole ordeal is making me rethink getting back into the landscaping industry.

Licensing Difficulties

Earlier in the year, I had applied for a new landscaping contractors license and I was supposed to test in October, but I wasn’t able to find a reference. The state also tried to force me to change my business name to include “landscaping”, which is kind of a silly overstepping of the government. These regulations are supposed to help people somehow? The state of California, seems especially intent on preventing smaller businesses from even starting. Food is controlled; medicine is controlled (and by the way, mushrooms are still schedule 1, same as heroine!), poison from big companies is allowed, everything seems to have been over stabilized because of the military industrial complex

s need to stabilize the economy to sustain growth. You can tell that this system which has entrenched itself into the court systems has no interest in the commonwealth. The infrastructure, roads, power lines, etc are deteriorating pretty badly. They are also very poorly planned, scheduled, and constructed. At this point, it makes more sense for these companies to build things that deteriorate quickly because their contracts become more valuable. Similar to a car company making cheaper parts that you won’t notice. Regulation actually seems to be counterproductive in these areas. You’d think the government would want to spend more money helping the homeless and working on immigration rather than running sting operations and all of the infrastructure required to test and charge for landscaping licenses, maintain a board etc. It’s like the DMV charging a little bit extra every year. Why don’t our taxes cover DMV fees in the state of California? Why are paying the DMV fees at all?

These regulations are formulated so that larger companies, that are entrenched, have the upper hand when it comes to business operations. This is called regulatory capture and it is basically now a reality in many places in America. People that participate in the justice and court systems say that this is true of the courts as well, though I don’t have experience with this. It seems to be rampant in the divorce industry; there is an exploitation occurring.

This is a new age form of governmental monopolization, similar to the inefficacies of communism. It reminds me a lot of Paris when I was 20; it’s nearly impossible to do anything because of the amount of rules that exist! It’s happening in every industry as the military industrial complex expands; Dwight Eisenhower warned about this after WWII. So we can dismantle it, but it’s going to take a decade or more. But anyways, the state said that I had to have “landscaping” in my business name (which is nonsense, because I was already doing all kinds of things that normal people would not call “landscaping”.), including plumbing and some light electrical work. What is with the reference? No exceptions for college graduates, no talking to customers. Why do they even test people, these aren’t skills you can reasonably “prove” on a test. It’s just another system of government trying to control things that it shouldn’t. I’ve heard from a few contractors that the test is mostly about the business portion anyways; rules which the regulatory bodies decide on. Its a conflict of interest.

Resigning to let go and Move on

I have no recourse except to let myself be taken by this client. Kinda sucks. But overall it a good lesson. And now I want to get out of the landscaping industry. It’s a pretty sad situation, but things could be much worse. I still am very healthy, I am learning, I didn’t lose everything I own. But honestly all of this licensing and client nonsense makes me want to leave the state. Who do these people think they are? In many other states, there are literally 0 laws about landscaping. There are many, far more important issues for the government to focus on that could actually be productive for society. We need to figure out our rehabilitation, education, and prison systems. This should be consuming every last ounce of energy of the government and state.

Taking Refuge at Bushnell’s Landscaping in Granite Bay

I decided that I needed to get a real job. To get some experience in the field working for someone that could vouch for me to get my landscaping licensing. To try to find mentor to help me to see into the future and decide if this would be a path for me. I decided to get a job for Bushnell’s in Granite Bay, CA. I needed to go completely legit, and work on my schooling to become some kind of engineer, designer, creator, whatever. Something involving computation, but also lots of math, modeling, etc. To be honest, I have been missing working with computers for a while and the recent advances in AI have me drooling to get my hands on some more advanced machine learning models. I am a giant data nerd and have been since I played WOW when I was 15. Don’t tell anyone ffs. I am currently taking math and physics classes online and it has been awesome. I also getting back into coding with python and data analysis, all of which seems to work and flow really well together. Soon, I’ll be learning more advanced biology, neuroscience, and cellular mechanics. stuff like that. I am going to stop doing as much labor and start working on designs. At the end of last year, I was considering buying a little walk on tractor.

Bushnell was very receptive to getting a new employee that had some experience landscaping, so I got the slightly more than full-time job working at the Nursery and for his landscaping company. It’s pretty nice to have a steady stream of working coming in, even though it is only maintenance. Refocusing on design is going to be great for me. I am also really hoping that Bushnell will sponsor me to test for my licensing. I am not a fan of maintenance work, I like making new things and installing, but I have come to appreciate the steady work on maintenance. I’ll do maintenance, but I don’t like it very much. I’d prefer to be repairing an irrigation system or adding drainage, or still my favorite of all time, planting plants. Soon, I’m hoping to get working on some larger projects with Bushnell and I’ll feature some of his work to show off why it’s awesome, and how his systems are designed.

This has been a fairly wet winter and I have spent a lot of time outside doing maintenance and fertilizing plants, I’ve been working a lot. But the work is much lighter than the construction work I was doing before so it’s not a big deal. I got sick a couple of times this winter, but it felt like a good sick, like it made me healthier to go through and experience the bacteria or viruses or whatever.

I had never done a liquid fertilizer before so I got to learn about nitrogen and spreading agents and humic acid and stuff. It’s really amazing what some fertilizer can do for plant growth and health. I am thinking of formulating my own mixture with liquid kelp and bat guano and experimenting with some nutrient enhancements. Different plants have different fertilization specifications so that is something interesting I will have a chance to learn and experiment with. Bushnell has some amazing work.

Leveling Up to Landscape Designer

Dave Bushnell’s work has an obviously superior quality to it; he has the ability to grow a plant from a seed and then install it into a client’s yard. You can see distinction in the end product. This control over the plant’s life gives him a somewhat unparalleled design ability to understand how plants can flow and grow together, which is the most important part of any ecosystem, but especially an ornamental landscape. The plants and colors need to fit together to move the human eye around the scene and generally you want the plants to exist together in a harmonious equilibrium. I have done a decent amount of designing in the wood-working and fencing and gate building fields as well so I can create entryways that invite and appeal and just can’t wait to be walked through! Complimenting areas with greenery, or specialized architectural features: stone walls, arches, stone steps, etc is a great way to enhance the enjoyability of a space.

Design is going to be the future of my landscaping business. In a few years I’m hoping to have 2-3 Tesla bots or similar running around doing landscaping and I’ll just focus on the planning and logistics of the planting, drainage, and irrigation systems that I install. I’ll also want to build rock walls, patios, decks, etc. all to create wonderful spaces for people to enjoy.

I’m not sure if I’m going to move to Texas or not yet; it is very appealing because of the law. California is going down, quickly and I do not want to be a part of any of what is happening here.

Delays and Updates for Eros Part 3

I was planning on finishing my album in the beginning of the year, but because I got a full time job working at Bushnell’s I’ve had time to think more about the last tracks and what I want to create with them. I have three more tracks that are coming out shortly here.

Battle for Mars is the newest and last track of the EROS Part 3 album; it has two version, the long version and the shorter version, each of which has a unique flavor. I have spent about 5 months on these pieces of music so I hope you have a chance to enjoy them. I’ll be uploading the album to Spotify for a release date on the 1st of June. I’ll post an article when I release the album, but for now you can enjoy the track on SoundCloud, its out there 😀

Yoga as a constant force

Mediation and yoga have been very important for me during this tumultuous time where I get myself out of this little situation. After having that client cancel on me, I was fuming and I really had no way to vent the energy. Yoga was tremendously helpful; it helps me to process emotions. I generally do lots of exercise to move through deeper kinds of feelings like what I was dealing with at the end of last year. Yoga and my movement practice are a very important refuge and it always comes in handy. Breathing control is always very useful. It still took about a month to get over; but without yoga I think it would have taken me much longer. Now I am just getting refocused on the path to wherever new job as an opportunity to get back into my practice and start documenting more of my findings, as I do think that yoga is a form of science and that we should be using it to ameliorate our mental health. Think of it like breath science and thought training, focusing, something like that while exercising. It is a very interesting phenomenon. I’m looking forward to teaching this week, so see you at East Wind if you get a chance to take my class.

Yoga has helped me in a huge way through this whole process. Its really helped in letting go of holding any grudges.

I’ll be creating more yoga content soon here, once I cool down from working all the time, which I am still doing to get myself out of this silly debt.

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Mars_Mining_ChatGPT

Battle for Mars – EROS Part 3

download the track with the links below:

Mars_Mining_ChatGPT

Focusing on Higher Quality Production

The last few months have been full of landscaping work; I haven’t had as much time for music as I’d like which is why finishing this music took so long. But it also gave me a chance to take a step back and think about what I want to make more deeply. I love french house; so I got back to a lot of that king of filtering with the steady background beat. I really had to rethink my process for this last track. Normally I like to spend an hour or two every day working on sound designs, melodies, working with new technologies, etc. I love music production because it has some pretty hardcore software engineering associated with it and these softwares allow for particle manipulations, wave shaping, modularizing, phase shifting; it all a bunch of quantum physics and learning about how sound waves and energy works for me. This track represents a lot of learning and education.

Youtube Music Video

click the link above if the video below doesn’t work; I’ve had trouble embedding videos from youtube lately.

This album represents so much hard work over the last 18 months, I have really poured myself into this music in an attempt to start playing live shows; I think it could start to happen soon! But I am also completely focused on just making music, and don’t want to be distracted with something as insane as creating a tour (honestly sounds like way too much work for one person, shout out to everyone doing that right now). I spent a lot of time creating the process to develop these sounds.

Battle for Mars represents the longest I’ve ever spent on a track; over 6 months now. All of the sounds are made from scratch, with the exception of the Gangus drums. I wrote the first EROS album in less time than that I think. The quality of the production hopefully represents that. The loudness and the mix of my tracks should be improving quite a bit and the stereo mix is just plain difficult to normalize for every system, so I’ve focused on the acoustics of a car and a clean mix (really, this just means I do a car-play test with my music). This mix is very iterative; some of the tracks have like 30 layers of EQ, the bass has been heavily processed in multiple layers of trash and a myriad of other heavy distortion plugins including the Glitch Machines armada. I really enjoyed the Max for Live improvements also, there is a vertex delay that was very fun to use.

I have a few different versions of the track, its in C and moves into D# a tiny bit, but there’s not a ton of melodic movement in this track; it is mostly about creating a unified atmosphere and feelings for the movement of the sound. So I guess the music would be a little weird if you have never heard any of my sound designs before; they are all made from scratch using operator, Ableton stock plugins, Serum, Phaseplant, Trash, Rift, and honestly too many plugins to ever remember or name.

I’ll have a music video out tomorrow or this weekend, I am not super happy with how this latest iteration came out and it takes a while to process. Thanks for listening!

Here is the final track’s cover art (really just a couple of good chat GPT prompts and editing) of EROS Part 3: Battle for Mars:

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credus_glauca_pendula

Bark is Essential for Landscaping

Tree and Plant Health: The Essential Role of Bark in Landscapes

Bark 1 from Tahoe National Forest

Bark decays to create mycelium. Mycelium assists plant roots in absorbing nutrients from the dirt; similar to the way that your gut bacteria help you to digest your food. Mycelium actually will augment your innate immune system: “Testing by NIS Labs confirmed that these three mycelium-centered products: increase innate immune cells for protection* activate white blood cells for immune strength* regulate immune cell compounds for a balanced immune response.” Check out my article on the “Health benefits of Mushrooms“.

I am constantly reminded of how powerful nature is; my friend Stella hosted a nature walk last week and taught that willow trees are actually the source for aspirin. It’s always fun to remember that we are generally ‘discovering’ science, rather than inventing things from nothing. It reminds me of recent advances in machine learning and AI; we are limited by our knowledge of ourselves!

In the intricate tapestry of a garden, every element plays a pivotal role in creating a harmonious and sustainable ecosystem. From the trees, to the flowering shrubs and overhanging evergreens to the dirt that supplies the plants with nutrients to the rocks that shade the plants and the movement of the sun’s warmth and rays through the canopy. Everything becomes harmonious. Bark—an often overlooked component—holds a unique place in contributing to the health and vitality and aesthetic of a landscape. Its journey from the protective outer layer of trees and shrubs to the ground to become dirt as it decays; bark is a critical component of the soil ecosystem underscores its importance in landscaping practices and maintenance. Trees need it. It’s how forests propogate.

Bark’s Initial Role and Its Breakdown Process

Bark serves as the skin of trees, protecting them against physical damage, pests, and diseases. Its chemical composition remains relatively consistent as it breaks down and makes its way, eventually, to the ground. Its role in the ecosystem undergoes a remarkable transformation once the bark touches the earth. As bark degrades, it embarks on a complex process of breaking down into smaller organic components. This decomposition is facilitated by a host of organisms, including bacteria, fungi, and invertebrates, which collectively contribute to its gradual transformation into nutrient-rich soil, also known as humus.

The Formation of Mycelium

One of the key players in the decomposition of bark is fungi, particularly through the formation of mycelium—a dense network of fungal threads that penetrate the soil and decomposing organic matter. Mycelium acts as nature’s recycling agent, breaking down complex organic compounds in the bark into simpler molecules that plants can easily absorb. It also creates communication channels for the trees in complex underground networks that can stretch for miles. This breakdown process not only enriches the soil but also improves its structure, enhancing its water retention and aeration qualities.

The presence of mycelium in the soil is a hallmark of a healthy ecosystem. It forms symbiotic associations with plant roots, known as mycorrhizae, which are crucial for the absorption of water and nutrients. Through these symbiotic relationships, mycelium extends the root system’s reach, allowing plants to access a larger volume of soil nutrients than they could on their own. This mutualistic interaction significantly boosts plant health, vigor, and growth. This is the biggest reason why bark is necessary for larger plants in a landscape.

Bark Mulch: A Catalyst for Healthier Landscapes

Incorporating bark additions into the landscape often mulch accelerates and emphasizes these ecological benefits. Bark mulch not only suppresses weeds but also maintains soil moisture and temperature, creating an ideal environment for mycelial growth and activity as well as root homeostasis and water retention capability in the soil. As bark slowly breaks down, it continuously feeds the soil ecosystem, promoting the development of a robust mycelium network.

The gradual degradation of bark mulch into soil enriches the microbial diversity of the soil, which is essential for nutrient cycling and disease suppression. This rich microbial ecosystem supports the growth of healthier plants, more resilient to pests and diseases, reducing the need for chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

Conclusion

Bark, in its journey from tree armor to a foundational component of the soil ecosystem, exemplifies the cyclical nature of life and the interconnectedness of all living things. Its degradation into dirt, transformation into mycelium, and interaction with plant roots illustrate a natural process of recycling and regeneration that is completely natural and extremely efficient. By understanding and harnessing the ecological roles of bark in landscapes, gardeners and landscapers can create more sustainable, healthy, and vibrant gardens that thrive in harmony with nature’s processes. Perhaps in the larger picture; we can learn to better manage our forests. I’ll end this article with a quote:

“Fungi not only cycle soil nutrients, but may deposit large amounts of recently fixed carbon in soils, building large pools of carbon in the form of complex molecules that contribute to long-term ecosystem carbon sequestration.” – Science Direct[1]

Bark is essential 2
References:
  1. Science Direct – Mycelium enhance forest nutrient dynamics
  2. Fungi.com – the Benefits of Mycelium
  3. Wikipedia – Mycelium
  4. PubMed – The effects of different types of mulch on soil properties and tea production and quality
  5. PubMed – Transformation of soil microbial community structure and rhizoctonia-suppressive potential in response to apple roots
  6. PubMed – Influence of Biochar on Soil Nutrients and Associated Rhizobacterial Communities
  7. Research Gate – Tree influence on soil microbial community structure
  8. Springer – the seed microbiome
  9. Learn more about Fungi @ Fantasticfungi.com

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The Science of Serenity: Yoga’s Impact on the Nervous System and Hormonal Balance

Introduction

Over the past 10 years, I have been attempting to understand and adapt the ancient practice of yoga. I travelled to Mysore to study ancient yogic traditions through the lens of modern science. It has also helped me to understand what brought me to yoga originally. Over the course of teaching thousands of students yoga, I can confirm that the benefits of yoga are tremendous and very much understated in modern society. It’s simple; health is declining because it isnt valued. The practice of yoga allows for an individual to realize fascinating and comprehensive benefits for human health and to redistribute their system of valued. Yoga is a way of philosophy. This article will delve into the anatomical and physiological underpinnings of yoga, specifically its profound effects on the nervous system and hormonal balance, to illuminate how these practices foster positive mental health.

Yoga and the Nervous System

The Parasympathetic Nervous System and Yoga

Yoga’s ability to activate the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), often referred to as the “rest and digest” system, is a cornerstone of its mental health benefits. According to a study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, practices such as gentle yoga poses, meditation, and pranayama (breath control) significantly increase vagal tone, an indicator of parasympathetic activity, leading to relaxation and stress reduction (Streeter et al., 2010).

Just sitting still and breathing deeply can lower your cortisol levels significantly. I can’t tell you how many people miss out on this in favor of the “go” mentality. To relax, you have to stop; sometimes.

Neuroplasticity and Mindfulness Practices

Research in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience outlines how consistent yoga practice contributes to neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to form new neural connections throughout life. This adaptability is enhanced by yoga’s mindfulness component, promoting cognitive flexibility and resilience to stress (Gard et al., 2014).

These findings collectively suggest that yoga can play a pivotal role in mental health interventions. By enhancing neuroplasticity and fostering a mindful approach to mental health, yoga offers a holistic and effective strategy for managing anxiety and depression, supporting its integration into mental health treatment and wellness programs for addicts and/or abusers.

Meditation and Brain Structure: Research has shown that meditation, a key component of yoga, can lead to changes in the brain’s structure, particularly in areas associated with memory, sense of self, empathy, and stress. For instance, a study that found increased gray matter density in the hippocampus, known for its role in learning and memory, in individuals who engage in mindfulness meditation.

Breath control and pranayama practices influence the autonomic nervous system, shifting the balance towards the vagus nerve, which helps promote relaxation and reduce stress levels. This shift is associated with reduced cortisol levels, a marker of stress, thereby potentially reducing anxiety and depressive symptoms.

lakeyoga_Elliot&Mandy

Yoga for Hormonal Balance

Cortisol and Stress Response

A pivotal study in Psychoneuroendocrinology demonstrated that regular yoga practitioners exhibit lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, compared to non-practitioners. This suggests that yoga can modulate the body’s stress response system, leading to improved mental health outcomes (West, Otte, Geher, Johnson, & Mohr, 2004).

Yoga’s Effect on the Endocrine System

Yoga’s impact extends to the broader endocrine system, which regulates hormones. The Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology reported that specific yoga poses and sequences can stimulate or soothe various glands, promoting hormonal balance. This equilibrium is essential for mood regulation, stress management, and overall mental well-being [1]. Studies have indicated that mindfulness practices can reduce rumination, a significant factor in the development and maintenance of depression. By fostering a non-judgmental awareness of the present moment, yoga helps individuals break the cycle of negative thought patterns.

Practical Applications

The practice of asana can optimize the nervous system and hormonal functions. For example, inversions like downward dog or headstand can rejuvenate the endocrine system, while slow, mindful movements in poses such as child’s pose or seated forward bend activate the vagus nerve, fostering a state of calm.

Yoga for Substance Abuse Disorders

Yoga has been increasingly explored as a complementary intervention strategy in the treatment of substance use disorders (SUDs), with several studies highlighting its potential benefits. Research demonstrates that yoga practices, including Hatha yoga, Sudarshan Kriya yoga, and various breathing and meditation exercises, can have positive effects on individuals struggling with substance use, including tobacco, alcohol, or opioids.

Incorporating Scholarly Insights into Daily Practice

Understanding the science behind yoga empowers practitioners to tailor their practice to specific mental health goals. When you are stressed, you can meditate. By integrating these scientifically backed techniques into regular practice, you can control your own health. There is a lot of research left to be done; but there is some evidence to support yoga as an effective therapy for anxiety and depression. Obviously these are hard things to measure; not only are depressions and anxiety subjective, but the way each individual experience yoga is different because of different use histories in the body from sports, etc.

Conclusion

These findings collectively suggest that yoga, through its multifaceted practices of breathing, contorting, and physical rigor can ameliorate mental health. The confluence of yoga with modern scientific research offers compelling evidence of its benefits. The key to further research will be underpinning its exact efficacy in enhancing mental health. So far, the breathing techniques have yielded some of the most widely acknowledged clinical data. As we continue to explore the depths of yoga’s therapeutic potential, it becomes clear that this ancient practice holds timeless relevance in our quest for psychological well-being in the contemporary world. During our lifetime, we might learn why!

References (read the first one!)

  1. Bhavanani, A. B., Madanmohan, & Sanjay, Z. (2012). Understanding the Science of Yoga. The Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology.
  2. Gard, T., Noggle, J. J., Park, C. L., Vago, D. R., & Wilson, A. (2014). Potential self-regulatory mechanisms of yoga for psychological health. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.
  3. Streeter, C. C., Gerbarg, P. L., Saper, R. B., Ciraulo, D. A., & Brown, R. P. (2010). Effects of yoga on the autonomic nervous system, gamma-aminobutyric-acid, and allostasis in epilepsy, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.
  4. West, J., Otte, C., Geher, K., Johnson, J., & Mohr, D. C. (2004). Effects of Hatha Yoga and African Dance on Perceived Stress, Affect, and Salivary Cortisol. Psychoneuroendocrinology.
  5. Namrata Walia, Jennifer Matas, Acara Turner, Sandra Gonzalez and Roger Zoorob -The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine

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ReCurve – the E.T.

120 BPM Electro- House

Recurve has some of my favorite melodic work; the beginning took a little bit of time to sort out; but I think its pretty unique (in terms of melodic structure) and once the bass kicks in; the sound design adds a dynamism that builds on the initial melody allowing it to go in and out. I owe all of this melodic structure stuff to Noah, who seems to constantly remind me of motifs and returning back to the original ideas and sounds from the beginning of the track. I feel like this is a constantly evolving relationship between the end and beginning that is definitive of good taoist philosophy.

EROS Part 3

Track 5 – Recurve

This track takes a more somber tone to the exploration of the universe through sound; a lot of this work speaks to the loneliness of space, but simultaneously the thrill of adventure. We constantly go a little further from safety to heroically explore the cosmos in spite of our inevitable extinction.

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Shield Wall – the E.T.

77BPM | D#

Shield Wall is the first Drum and Bass Track! I am pretty excited for how it came out, but I think the end is pretty chaotic; sometimes its a challenge to keep the organization as I move through a track and I wonder if this one wasn’t a little disorganized towards the end. However, I love the beginning and think that the melody is well thought out and purposed for the track; which has been my focus with the whole EROS PART 3 album; movement towards more cohesive structures and organizations within the writing of the music is a good way to grow in the musical ability to self-reference.

Anyways, the bass is heavily modulated as usual; but this is one of my first tracks with Synplant, which has a fairly powerful AI engine for sound design. I spent a few hours at the beginning hunting for bass sounds and the result is what you hear at about bar 17 in the track, or about 00:30.

EROS PART 3

Track 6 – Shield Wall

This is part 6 of the EROS compilation; it has a certain unique flavor of DNB that is mostly about the bass synthesis. I have a couple more tracks to go, but we are getting towards the end of the music I’ve finished; at most, there could be 5 more tracks; but most likely, there will be two, maybe 3.

I spent some good time crafting the music video as well. Check it out…

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Shaucha | शौच | purity & cleanliness

Shaucha is the 1st Niyama of Yoga; or the restraints of behavior. This concept that is central to the Indian religion and yoga and is part of what creates a clear and focused mind. It also means a clean body and sets of actions; its implies purity and cleanliness through all of life in a balanced way.

It is also important when speaking to aim to control your communications from a calm and peaceful mind. Saucha is most often practiced in daily life, whilst cleaning your space; or your car; doing your laundry or even taking showers. Nourishment and organization are also central to saucha.

Saucha and Santosha are very interconnected. One leads to the other, which is why saucha is the first Niyama and Santosha is the second. And remember that these are behavioral guidelines or ways to act around others.

Saucha’s concepts lend themselves to better Focus

Meditation was created to clear and enhance mental focus. Saucha is a part of that because meditation requires a little bit of preparation; sometimes a shower before, or simply taking off your shoes and sitting on a pillow or a mat, etc. So keeping space clean is an important part of that. In yoga, it is very important to keep the space clean of pests; especially in post WW2 India. It is also about creating a clean relationship to yourself; getting rid of the baggage so to speak. Cleaning not only enhances your mental health, but it also removes stress from your body. “Clutter and mess can create more stress and anxiety, but by cleaning, organizing, and reducing the clutter, people are able to take control of their environment and create a more relaxing environment that helps them focus better on the more pressing issues in their lives.”[7]

5 Techniques to create Saucha

  1. Meditate for a couple of minutes first thing in the morning. Clear your mind before your day.
  2. Neti Pot – clear your nasal cavity
  3. Dharana Meditation – focus on a single object and stare at it for 5 minutes or more. Choose a few objects of different distances for longer practice.
  4. Declutter and clean your house and your car
  5. Eat organic foods

References:

  1. The Art of Living Retreat Center – How to Live in Harmony with Yourself and the World Around You
  2. The Art of Living Retreat Center – Saucha – the First Niyama
  3. Bret Larking – What is Saucha
  4. Yoga International – Yamas and Niyamas
  5. Wikipedia – Niyamas
  6. Wikipedia – Saucha
  7. Very Well Mind – The Connection Between Decluttering, Cleaning, and Mental Health
  8. Forbes – the Mental Health Benefits of a Clean Home

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Dall-E & the E.T. - Santosha

Santosha | संतोष | Contentment | Satisfaction

Santosha, the second Niyama of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras is sometimes spelled Santosa, is a portmanteau in Sanskrit, derived from Saṃ-prefix (सं-, सम्-) and Tosha (तोष (from root √तुष्, √tuṣ)). SaM-, means “completely”, “altogether” or “entirely”,[5] and Tosha (from the root √tus), “contentment”, “satisfaction”, “acceptance”, “being comfortable”.[5]

In modern Californian yoga culture, we say, “chillin” to express this. Contentment is the name of the game. Yoga and santosha are somewhat synonymous; it is a big part of yogic philosophy.

Dall-E & the E.T. - Santosha

Sam is similar to sum, totality and entirely. Tosha or Tushti (तुष्टि) is about appreciation, mindfulness, gratitude, harmony, an active inner contentment. But like all other Sanskrit words; there is a rather distinct philosophical implication behind this compounded idea.

Samtosa, or Santosha means inner serenity; a lacking of cravings and desires; satisfaction in the present. In a way, it is less reactive and more sustainable than happiness, which would be more like the upward part of a mountain that has a valley beneath it. It is like a gentle hum in the background of life that keeps you excited for what comes next.

Minimization is important in the philosophies of santosha. Less things and obligations; more relationships, time with nature, etc. We have so much in the way of our happiness; how can we possibly enjoy ourselves if we don’t take any time to feel that way. Difficulty will always exist; especially with big challenges. Santosha exists in small moments; like taking your time to enjoy the first sip of coffee you have or to eat a decent breakfast.

Relinquishing expectations can also create a path for cultivating Santosha. This is something I’ve had to do with my own life in big ways; letting go of thinking that I would be a full-time yoga instructor; or that I was ready to start a landscaping business by myself have been big lessons for me. I am finding Santosha in the journey of creating these things in balance.

This concept, Santosha, has been a theme as I’ve started a new job at Bushnell’s landscaping service. It will be great to have steady work and will provide an excellent opportunity to learn from a successful, high quality tradesman.

Contentment is hard when you have to let go of a successful and fun yoga class. My Wednesday noon class at East Wind in Roseville always felt special, like a fun and welcoming place to come back to. However, transitioning that class to another teacher has been a long time in coming. I’ve had several projects where taking the time to teach yoga at noon has been very difficult. I still teach Tuesday evening 7pm and Sunday evening 5pm classes.

DALL·E & the E.T. - Job's loss (biblical)
DALL·E & the E.T. – Job’s loss (biblical)

I’d like to add another class or maybe two; I’d like to teach more yoga at the very beginning and the end of the day so we’ll see if that can work out this year!

EROS part 3 has also been slightly put on the back-burner; I am still finishing the music, just a lot slower than I was able to when I had all day to work on it. I have a couple more dnb tracks and a couple of house tracks to get out there. Some really cool sound designs on these! The new full- time job has been really time consuming, which is great! But I don’t get as much time for music so I’ll have to double down on sound design and melody writing after work.

Niyama #2

Santosha is the second of Patanjali’s Niyamas; it means contentment and also unison with what is; reality. Santosha is an ethical concept in Hindu philosophy. It is a tenet of yoga and corresponds to the mental state that you are trying to create with asana. With focus, you can create a state of santosha by moving through all the things that make you unhappy or dissatisfied and accepting them; or coming to terms with their conclusions.

Santosha means to be completely content with, or satisfied with, accepting and comfortable in what is. To be present to everything and happy with it. This creates a personal growth that allows you to be okay with anything that is happening around you. Similar to a tree growing ferociously on the side of a cliff.

5 Ways to Create Santosha in your life

Dall-E & the E.T. - Job's cosmic spiritual battle
Dall-E & the E.T. – Job’s cosmic spiritual battle
  1. appreciate difficulty in your journey
  2. entertain the point of view of others
  3. be nice, but don’t give away your attention
  4. create commitment and discipline
  5. learn to love your flaws and weaknesses

What does Santosha really mean

Santosha is a method for creating happiness. It is not complacency! It is a method for drawing contentment from within to make what is happening on the exterior irrelevant. So a lot of times, you have to spend time creating it; it won’t just appear after a moment on your mat. Sometimes you have to sit with it for a few hours, or do 2 yoga classes in a row. Meditating really helps too, but that is an internal relationship that has to be built up over time. You have to learn how to enjoy being in warrior 2 when you don’t want to be. You have to show up for it, then stick with it and accept your feelings as it happens. Yoga is just like a simulation or practice ground for what happens in life.

Santosha is really cultivating a space inside of yourself that is nice to come back to. Much of Indian philosophies relate nourishment and satisfaction to commitment and discipline. This commitment and focus to contentment and satisfaction is a self-fulfilling prophecy in many ways. I believe it is how there are so many people out there that are happy without excess.

Santosha is Deep Satisfaction

Santosha is within your control; you simply have to actively cultivate it. It is about the story in your mind and realizing that is a fabrication and it detracts from your fun! Our true power exists in our ability to act and create in the present moment; when we are lost in our story, we lose sight of that. This also means recognizing that our words do not have power over us; when someone else uses a specific word that grabs your attention, remember that you give it power by spending time focusing on it. Redirect your attention and it loses its power and more important its meaning. We are the creators of meaning in our lives by choosing what we spend our time doing and who we spend our time with so we have to make sure that we are doing things that we are passionate about!

References:
  1. Ekhart Yoga – Santosha
  2. Yoga International – Is Santosha (Contentment) Really Possible?
  3. Hindu American – 5 Things to know about OM
  4. Yogajala – Santosha
  5. shahzadpurfarmyoga.com – Samkhya Karika 50, Satisfaction is of 9 Types, 4 Internal & 5 External
  6. Wikipedia – Santosha

Santosha | संतोष | Contentment | Satisfaction Read More »

Unlock-Zen-1

Unlock Your Inner Zen – Daoist Yoga with Elliot

Enjoy this 30 minute Daoist yoga sessions for your major muscles and nerves.

Flow with your breath through the sequence and release into your mind.

Practice yoga with Elliot!

Yoga with Elliot | Episode 3:

Beginner/Intermediate Yoga Class

Unlock-Zen-1
yoga with elliot: Episode 3 Daoist Symbol | by Dall-E

Postures (asanas) for weight loss and mental health.

You can tell I am a little bit chunky in this video and I like to gain weight during the winter to stay warmer. I’ll get back into really really good shape later; eating a lot during the winter is a favorite past-time of mine.

This video is for people who are interested in yoga, but haven’t really experienced it yet. Anyone that is in a high stress environment, or that has to drive a lot or sit at a desk during the day. It is very general and focuses on major muscles groups, such as hamstrings, quadradus lumborum, shoulders, hips, glutes, lower spinal erectors, quadriceps and inner thigh muscles.

Yoga is Healthy, practice a lot to cultivate Santosha, happiness.

Most will find this to help release some of the cortisol from the major muscle groups in the body; but I would imagine that military professionals, police officers, firefighters, doctors, and nurses, as well as other people in high-stress environments can benefit a lot from yoga’s ability to process stress[1]. Cortisol is stress hormone and it is stored in the blood stream in muscles. With focused and meditative breathing holding postures and flowing through sun salutations can greatly improve sleep quality, relieve cortisol from the blood stream, enhanced coping, self-efficacy and positive mood[2]. Further, on evaluating the published studies, it is concluded that sleep and cognitive functions are optimized by yoga practice, which brings about changes in autonomic function, structural changes, changes in metabolism, neurochemistry and improved functional brain network connectivity in key regions of the brain.[3] Yoga practices can increase multiple neurotransmitters and hormones such as GABA, serotonin, and dopamine—all natural anti-depressants. [4] The practice of Yoga improves sleep architecture and mental well-being in young and middle-aged adults. [4]

“Yoga also boosts the innate antiviral response and brain health by enhancing natural defense genes and microRNA-29c expression. Notably, it activates telomerase, linked with cellular longevity, and promotes nitric oxide synthetase and neuroprotective gene expression, implying benefits for ocular health. In addition, yoga fosters DNA repair and cellular integrity maintenance by increasing oxoguanine glycosylase one protein and p53 gene expression.”[5]

What this means is that yoga helps your body to repair itself neurologically; in the brain neurological complexes that are required for sleep and the immune response and the body’s response to invasive micro-organisms. Eyes are generally thought of as a part of the brain; it is very interesting to see that this somewhat vulnerable area of the human body is augmented with inversions such as downward dog.

This 30 minute yoga class will get you relaxed and focused. The sequence is very balanced, in my opinion. Hold poses for longer! Experiment with your bodies endurance! And also be gentle and take it easy when you feel like you should.

Asanas and descriptions, some modifications

the yoga I practice is purely physical. Sometimes I end a class with a reading or something I am thinking, but I try to keep my teaching neutral.

  1. Tadasana – standing with intention in the feet
  2. Step back lunge
  3. Lizard Low Lunge
  4. Plank
  5. Chaturanga – specifics about alignment
  6. Half Lift – more alignment
  7. Forward Fold – release your neck and jaw and head
  8. Chair Pose – stabilize
  9. Warrior 3
  10. Lunging
  11. Pyrmaid Pose
  12. Triangle Pose
  13. Dragonfly Twist (make sure you get this on the second side!!)
  14. Standing splits
  15. Goddess Pose
  16. Meditation
  17. Savasana

References:

  1. Science Direct – Yogic meditation improves objective and subjective sleep quality of healthcare professionals
  2. De Gruyter – Using the Biopsychosocial Model to Understand the Health Benefits of Yoga
  3. National Library of Medicine – Sleep, Cognition, and Yoga
  4. MDPI – (Medical Yoga Therapy – read this!!!)
  5. International Journal of Yoga – Beyond the Mat: Exploring the Potential Clinical Benefits of Yoga on Epigenetics and Gene Expression

Unlock Your Inner Zen – Daoist Yoga with Elliot Read More »

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