does the christmas spirit signal a chemical imbalance in the brain?

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You’re probably finished with your meal by now, and sitting around playing with your new things, or reading your new book or even just watching bad tv, maybe even by yourself. Hey, whatever, it’s all okay, man. Materialism is okay sometimes. It’s not about that, of course. Except sometimes it is. Unless you don’t do that, and then, whatever. Then it’s about something else. Maybe it’s about eating lots of cheese and feeling okay about it.

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The season is all right. We got a little snow, just a little crust, but that’s fine. It’s enough to make it look white. Wow, look at that flame. What’s going on there?

I won’t take up too much of your time tonight, because obviously everyone has better things to do than listen to a chicken.  But I would like to share with you this article I found about generosity, and giving, and how it could be related to brain damage. Whoa. I hope everybody’s frontal lobes are in tact.

Now, I’m not suggesting that everybody sitting amidst the carnage of their holiday exchange is a bunch of psychopaths. Probably not. Giving is fine. Especially if you’re working on that whole social cohesion/kin selection thing. Are you? Because I’m not. Maybe I should.

But you could also have brain damage. You probably don’t. But you could.

Okay. Anyway.

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I listened to an interview with a Sara Bareillis (a female pop singer if you don’t know) this morning, and a woman called in and said that her 4-year-old daughter loved this singer, and that it was the first non-Disney music that her daughter had really gotten into.

Is this a compliment?

Maybe that kind of generous praise is evidence of brain damage.

Maybe brain damage isn’t always that bad.

Anyway, that’s enough from me. May your generosity make you feel good this season while not destroying your credit rating and the future of your family, if you even have one. Also, Jesus and Santa and all that.

Ring a ding ding,

Yoga Chicken

 

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the nature cure

 

DSC_1874I was reading The Atlantic the other day, and I came across this article about how some doctors are now prescribing time in nature to their patients for various things. Depression, etc. Probably not bone fractures. If you’ve got a bone fracture, probably the last place you want is to be is in the woods. Especially if you got your bone fracture in the woods, like from a boulder falling on you. So if you’ve been crushed by a boulder, it’s okay to crawl out of the woods. Go for it. Don’t look back. But the nature cure apparently does work for other things. Things like:

  • Depression
  • ADHD
  • Addiction
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Unfocused rage
  • Focused rage
  • Indoors-too-much syndrome

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It’s called “Ecotherapy,” and it supposedly works in a couple of specific ways:

  1. If you hold soil in your hand, Mycobacterium vaccae will seep into your skin and somehow increase the amount of serotonin in your brain. Actually we don’t know that for sure, but it worked for mice once, so it probably works for every single mammal (right?)
  2. There are, apparently, health benefits of “awe,” the most important being a reduction in cortisol. So there’s that.

So that sounds neat. I think I’m going to try taking the nature cure.

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One thing about taking the nature cure, though, is that you have to really go outside. You can’t just sit on your front stoop with a cup of coffee and your cell phone in your pocket. That would be cheating. Go into the woods, my chickens. Take your car if you must. I’m going to.

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Ooo, look. There it is. Nature. What’s going to happen?!?

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Actually the first thing that happens is that you have to fork over a few bills to get in. It doesn’t seem like there’s anyone out here patrolling, but as soon as you start thinking like that, then you get caught, or you get so worried about getting caught that your nature cure doesn’t work.

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So give the people what they want, and be on your way.

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This particular park is in Wisconsin. It’s called Lowes Creek, and I bet that means there’s a creek here somewhere. Let’s take a nature walk, shall we?

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Doo de doooo dee doo doo dooo, walking walking, nature nature, fee fee faaa faa foodleooo…

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Oh hold on. This is one of those trails where you’re supposed to stop every once in a while and do some exercises. It’s a Fit Trail. That means there’s going to be a bunch of stations.

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Like this one. Here’s the hamstring stretch. Ooooo yah. That burns.

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Here’s the balance beam. Gotta keep that inner ear in shape.

 

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Oooo, here’s the parallel bars. Yikes. Can I possibly….

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Ungh!

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Yeeeeeahhhhh!!!!!!

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Okay well anyway, enough of that. Apparently, according to nature cure rules, you’re supposed to find a place to sit in nature, WITHOUT YOUR PHONE, and just stay there for a while. But there is one caveat: MAKE SURE IT’S A RELAXING PLACE TO SIT.

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For example: this is technically a place you can sit. It is in nature. And yet: it sort of looks like a Haunted Forest of Death. There are better places to sit. So take your time. Find a place that works.

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Here we go. Here’s a nice bench. Hhhhhhhhh. Feels good.

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So you can just sit there a while…….doing nothing but listening to the incessant cacophony of crows… relaxing in a way. Kind of reassuring. In an unsettling sort of way.

Wow they’re loud.

Anyway just keep sitting there and maybe just ignore them. Breathe. Chillax.

Until some other people walk by and you get embarrassed that you’re just sitting there by yourself doing nothing, so you get up and leave and pretend to have somewhere to be.

Walk walk walk walk walk walk walk….

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Wait a second though— oooo oooo. This is pretty. I’m just going to sit here for a minute curing my depression and theoretical diabetes, obesity, ADHD, drug addiction and often-not-theoretical rage, both focused and unfocused.

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If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? And how do we know nobody was around to hear it? What are we, god? I bet there were at least some ants around. SOMEONE heard it. Some badger probably got it on his cell phone. They can use that as evidence later.

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Anyway, there you have it, the nature cure. I think I feel better already. My cortisol is WAY down and my awe levels are soaring. I don’t know if I touched the right kind of bacteria, but there’s always next time, if I didn’t.

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Overall, I give the nature cure 4 stars, just one docked for the creepy haunted woods and the other people out for a leisurely weekend judge-walk.

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Toodles! See you next time!

 

 

rage and rescue

The Yoga Chicken finds himself abroad, and speaking in the third person, which is a terrible thing to do, unless one is living in a constant state of non-judgment and equanimity, which one is not doing 100% of the time.  Yet.

Whoa, seriously, check it out.

But it’s hard to be disgruntled when the view out your front window looks like this:

If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m in Scotland.  Scotland is historically a land of pissed-off people who will fight you like badgers if you try to, I don’t know, take over their country or something. They might do this with swords, or big heavy spiky balls on a chain, or with wild roving bands of bagpipe players.

Cool.

Wait, not cool.  Let’s see what Thich Nhat Hanh had to say about anger, when he visited the Maryland Correctional Institute at Hagerstown in 1999.  This is an excerpt from the book, be free where you are, by Thich Nhat Hanh.

Q: Have you ever been mad?  When was the last time you were mad?

A: As a human being I have the seed of anger in me, but thanks to the practice, I am able to handle my anger.  If anger manifests in me, I know how to take care of it.  I am not a saint, but because I know the practice, I am no longer a victim of my anger. 

Huh.

I guess I never thought of it that way before– being a “victim” of your own anger.  Huh.  Maybe the Scots haven’t either.  Or for that matter, anybody who ever goes to war and feels all powerful and big as a result.  Or at least they think they do, when really they’re just victimizing themselves, like moody teenaged girls experimenting with cutting.  Except on a bigger scale, of course.  Huh.

Well anyway we need not dwell on that.  Scotland isn’t all about war, after all.  They also do nice things.  Like, for example, they have these incredible lifeboats that will surge out into the raging sea and rescue you if you get in trouble out there– even if you get in trouble for doing something stupid.

neat.

Isn’t that cool?  That you can do something stupid in Scotland and people will still come and get you?  (on the water, anyway).  I don’t think it’s like this in the States.  I think if you do something stupid in the States, you’ll just get shot, and then everybody will have a party.  That’s why there are so many guns in the United States.  And also so many reality TV shows.  Americans in theory are not as wild and savage as the legendary Scots, but maybe that’s just because we haven’t been around long enough. It seems to me that we started off semi-respectable (Pilgrims? Sort of?) but things went downhill pretty quickly from there.  And now we’re in some sort of a mud chute heading off a cliff.

check me out.

That’s why it’s kind of nice once in a while to go somewhere else and pretend that you live there. You know, dress the part, talk the talk, try to blend in as much as you can.  Talk smack about the United States as though you weren’t really from there.  You dumb Yanks.  See?

Anyway back to this lifeboat business.  Now this is one SERIOUS boat.  If it flips over, it can right itself, apparently.  And the thing has POWER.  Hooo!  And its only purpose is to go out and fix things that have gone incredibly bad.  The first day I got here, for example, this boat had just plucked a dead body out of the water the night before.  Now, granted, that’s not much of a rescue, but still.  It had good intentions.  And check out the color!  Orange!  Orange is the color of your second chakra, which is supposed to be all about creativity and sexuality and stuff, and I don’t know what that has to do with a lifeboat, but anyway it’s a pretty lively color.  And if you’re going to spend your time throwing yourself into the waves, you’d better have a little bit of energy.

Yeah!

 

Hooo yeah, I’m driving it, baby!  It’s me!  I’ve got this!  Hold on, tired swimmers, here I come!  And I’ve got lifejackets! I don’t care what you did, I’m coming, and I’m bringing this kick-ass boat, so get ready!

 

Seriously, if you tried to innertube behind this thing, you’d probably end up in space.  It’s that powerful.

 

 

 

 

 

Well anyway we’ve learned about several things today.  Anger, rescue, and… okay I guess that’s about it.  Here’s the Yoga Chicken, signing off, and again reverting back to speaking in the third person, which is still repugnant, and yet everybody does it, so why not me?  Sounds like a topic for a future post.

Toodles.

breathing

I was thinking about breathing yesterday, as I posted that Alan Finger video on my Facebook page.  He talked about how cool it is that breathing is the only autonomic function that you can CONTROL WITH YOUR MIND!!!  And how, if you can control your breath, you can also control your mind!  Wicked! The really weird part is how he suggested that by changing your own breathing, you can also affect other people’s brains.  Whoa.  Now hold on a second.  And I guess you can even do that with a tiny little chicken brain.  Yowza!

It’s pretty cool when you think about it.  Like, can you imagine slowing down your heart or speeding it up, just by thinking about it?  Or getting your intestines to churn up a burger at warp speed because you ate it at 3 PM and you’re supposed to run five miles at 4 PM?

I’m not very good at practicing breathing, because I’m super impatient and I sort of feel like I already know how to breathe.  But there’s one place I like to go where thinking about breathing is sort of important, and so this is where my breathing college will begin.

At the pool.

 

 

 

 

The thing is, if you want to swim in a way that really counts, you’ve got to put your head underwater.

Your whole head.  Even the comb. And you’ve got to keep it underwater like, MOST OF THE TIME.

 

 

Yeah, it’s tempting just to do this.  But then you’re not really swimming, are you?  You’re just floating.  And floating is about FEAR.   And FEAR means you’re NOT BREATHING, even though technically this life jacket is supposed to make it easier for you to breathe.  See what I’m saying?

So you’ve got to commit to the idea of going underwater. Set your intention.  Like this: I am going underwater.  I am not afraid of what might be under there.  Even though the pool was closed a couple of times in January because– okay never mind.  It doesn’t matter.  That was then.  This is now.  I am going  underwater. I am ready.

 

Don’t spend too much time on this step.

 

 

 

 

 

Go!!!!

 

 

 

Ooo, look at you. You’re swimming.  Your head is underwater.  Are you breathing?  Are you thinking about it?  I bet you are.  On both counts.  This is what it’s all about, people.  This is where the work is.

 

Okay, don’t look at that guy.  Yeah he’s really fast but he swam in high school.  AND in college. Plus he’s got webbed feet.  Just let him have his path and you stick to yours.

MAN that guy is fast.

 

Also, don’t look at the clock.  I mean, you can look at it SOMETIMES, but the clock is not the point.  The point is to work on breathing, and to get really smooth and stuff.  And like, go to that different place.  Wherever that is.

 

Well anyway, good swim, good swim. It’s not supposed to happen overnight, that fancy breathing thing, so don’t worry about it.

 

 

But don’t you feel good now?

I know I do.

Ahhhhh.

get on it

Books are a nice way to avoid getting your butt on the mat.

Although, if you’re like me, the way you read books is just as shameful as the way you do yoga.  The books are there…. I’m just not reading them.  No time, is what I tell myself.  But what am I doing with this time, instead of reading/doing yoga?

Well, hanging out with my roommate, for one.  Hey Don.  Wake up.  Wake up.  Wakeupwakeupwakeup.  Did you hear the latest about Dominique Strauss-Kahn and his so-called “high-class prostitutes?”  Please.  Give me a break.  What?  Yeah I know you’re sleeping but it’s 9 in the morning.  Why are you sleeping?  You sleep ALL DAY LONG, man.  I think you should go get that checked out.

Well anyway.

Another good way to waste vast swaths of time is to organize your spice cabinet, and put things into little metal racks so they don’t go sprawling into all your other cabinets and/or onto the floor every time you open the cabinet.  Probably the best thing is to have vertical metal things though,and mount them on the wall, so you can actually see all your spices, but whatever.  One thing at a time, right? I’m not going to beat myself up for my horizontal metal spice holders.  I happen to like them.

And let’s not forget that universal time suck, cleaning.  With eco-friendly cleaning supplies bought at the local co-op, of course, because, hey–  I do yoga.  At least theoretically.

I have done yoga in the past.  And who was it that said “The past isn’t dead–it isn’t even past?”  Faulkner?  Maybe.  (Damn, I should read some Faulkner.)  Anyway, if the past isn’t dead and isn’t even past, then I’m currently doing yoga about four times a week at an excellent studio in New York City, with a dedicated and engaged community, because it’s still 2006.  Right? Right?

Oh no, I’m surfing the internet!  Christ, this could take up the whole rest of the day if I let it.  I swear some day I’m going to wake up and I’ll be 85– putting a bid in for a little mechanical bird on eBay, and I’ll realize that I’ve been online for the past 35 years and missed my entire life.  It could happen.  Maybe it’s even happening to you right now.

 

Oh god.  There’s my mat.  My empty, unused mat.  It’s taunting me.  Why do I even keep it out?

 

And here’s me, not on the mat, but gathering the courage to confront what’s going on here.  I’m getting close.  But I can’t look at it.  It’s too– ugh.  I can’t– no, come on.  Breathe.  Flow.  You can do this. Easy does it………

Okay, I’m bracing myself.  I’m gonna do this, even though it feels awkward.  There’s only one way to break through this wall of shame and denial, and we’re going to do this, right here, right now.

Ready?

 

 

 

 

 

Step 1.  You’ve gotta manifest your intentions in the physical world.

In other words, dress for success.

In still other words, fake it ’til you make it.

 

 

Step 2.  Put your feet on the mat.

 

 

 

 

 

Step 3.  Don’t be too hard on yourself for avoiding your practice like the deadly, virulent plague that it is not.

We’ve all been there.  Yeah, it’s hard. But don’t think about it.

The important thing is just to keep coming back.

 

 

 

Step 4.  A little privacy, please?  I’m trying to do yoga.

 

 

 

drugs

Okay, here’s the deal, you guys.  I have to make a disclaimer about this blog and give you some information about me that you might find troubling.  Are you ready?  Here we go:

I’m on drugs.

Legal drugs?  Yes.

Psychoactive, mood-altering drugs?

Also yes.*

(*also pictured: vitamins)

 

 

One thing about these drugs is that they make you normal, I guess.  Whatever that is.

Although another thing about them is that they make you kind of tired.

Like middle-of-the-day tired.

The kind of tired that is okay in Spain, but is not okay here.

 

 

 

I mention this because there are many in the yoga “community” who would say that taking these drugs makes you a yoga fraud.

That these kinds of drugs are a crutch.

That if you take these drugs, then you’ve succumbed to the corporate-industrial-complex’s master evil plan to convince you that you have a disease, and the only thing that will save you is taking their (non-generic) drug which, according to the TV commercials, you should ask your doctor about RIGHT NOW.

According to some people, if you’re waking up angry every day and are thin as a twistie tie and feel tired most of the time and have no appetite and your friends cross to the other side of the street when they see you coming….

 

then what you need to do is more yoga.

 

 

 

 

Particularly more poses like this:  cobra pose, which is a heart-opening backbend.  And everybody knows that backbends open up your heart chakra, allowing all the bad juju you have allowed to accumulate to pour out like an overflowing sewage pipe.

Get that stuff outta there.

 

By the way, yes I am naked, and I’ve talked to Don about it and he’s cool.  I like to be naked in the apartment once in a while– probably not for long (winter), but sometimes.  Turns out that he doesn’t care, because–duh!–he walks around naked, too.  Although with him it’s a little more subtle, but basically he’s fine with it.

 

Anyway.   What was I talking about?  Oh yeah, drugs.

Well, there was a time when I was more of a purist, and I thought I could deal with everything with yoga, too.

I don’t think that anymore.

 

For me, the drugs are like wearing boots in rough terrain.  Sure, you can go outside in your bare feet if you want, but it’s going to get pretty uncomfortable pretty fast.

This just allows me to stay outside longer.  And do what I want to do, so to speak.

It’s good.  I think.

 

So like, I have this little dancing flower that sits on my windowsill.  It’s solar-activated.  Today, despite the appearance of this photo, it’s actually not that bright outside.  So the flower is barely dancing.  In fact, I had to look pretty close to see that it was moving at all.

I’ve felt like that before.

 

And now I don’t, thanks to my legal psychoactive drugs.   Now I feel like I’m getting sun pretty much every day, even when I’m not.

Yoga worked, sort of, but only for a few hours.  And only with some parts of it.

And also you guys, yoga is supposed to be about non-judgment, amiright? amiright?

 

So I guess that’s good.  We’ll see.

Hang on, the phone is ringing…

 

 

Hello?  Oh, hi ( it’s the neighbors).  Naked in the window?  Yeah, that’s me.  Why?

Really?  Oh.  Okay.

Yeah whatever, bye.

 

 

They want me to stop standing naked in the window, Don.  What do you think about that?

You know what I have to say about that?

 

…………..

 

 

 

DANCE NAKED!  DANCE NAKED!

DANCE NAKED IN THE WINDOW!!!!!!!!!

AAAAAAEEEEEEE!!!!!

 

 

 

 

Well anyways that’s all I’ve got to say about that.

I guess I’ll either go put on some clothes or pull the shades.

Probably put on some clothes.

It’s sweater weather.  A nice time of year.

garbage

Wow, it is COLD outside!  When did THAT happen?  Yikes!  Wow.  Ungh.

There was a time in my life when wearing a coat outside in the cold was considered to be uncool.  Wearing a coat meant that you actually NOTICED that it was cold outside, and moreover, that the cold was TOO MUCH for you to handle.  Only weak people wore coats. Losers.  Pushovers.

And then there were the people who were SO COOL that COLD didn’t touch them.  They neither noticed nor did anything about the chill in the air. To do so would be to admit failure, and winners do not fail.

Let me say that again:  WINNERS DO NOT FAIL.

Luckily, I just don’t give a damn anymore.  I like crisp days.  It stimulates the brain juice. I wear what I need to wear, and there’s freedom in that.

Anyway, today I need to talk about garbage.  It’s fall, which is the time when all the trees dump all their garbage on the ground.  Dead leaves,  excess baggage, whatever you want to call it, it’s happening: trees are dumping their load, getting naked, putting in place “austerity measures” to get ready for the winter.

That’s fine.  Trees, chickens, dogs, we all do what we need to do to deal with the changes that come down the chute.

 

 

 

 

 

Some of us do it by dropping  leaves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Others do it by bulking up in the hair department.

 

 

 

 

Some become intensely vigilant.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Others go to great lengths to try to become something that they are not.  Which is kind of funny.  Or maybe it’s weird and sad.  Who knows.

It is what it is.

 

 

 

Each of us possesses an internal Invisible Fence whereby we decide what we keep and what is garbage.  Unlike this Invisible Fence, however, our internal Invisible Fence is always shifting and changing.

 

 

 

Like right now, for example.  Am I reclining in a big pile of fun?

Or am I hip-deep in a mountain of dumpster-mulch?

Who’s to say?

(wait a second..is there dog poop in here?)

 

Sometimes it’s good to check in with others to see what they’ve had to say about the subject of garbage.

For example, (once again) Thich Nhat Hanh, who says this in that same book from last week, You Are Here:

“Flowers and garbage are both organic in nature. So looking deeply into the nature of a flower, you can see the presence of the compost and the garbage.”

Hmmmmkay.

“The flower is also going to turn into garbage; but don’t be afraid! You are a gardener, and you have in your hands the power to transform garbage into flowers, into fruit, into vegetables.  You don’t throw anything away, because you are not afraid of garbage.  Your hands are capable of transforming it into flowers, lettuce, or cucumbers.”

…………………..

………………..

I am not afraid of garbage.  I am not afraid of garbage.  I am not afraid of garbage.  I am not afraid of garbage.

(Flowers.)  (Pears.)  (Squash.) (Apples.) (Beets.) (Carrots.)  (Cukes.)