podcast Gary Barwin Yiddish for Pirates

Yiddish for Pirates Raises the Flag on Humour

fiction, humour, award winning fiction, Gary Barwin

Gary Barwin's fabulous jaunt through history, war, tragedy and very, very funny scenes all through the eyes and considerable beak of a Yiddish speaking Pirate has won this year's Stephen Leacock award. Listen to Gary here


Wellness Wednesdays Silence for Greater Brain Power

Wellness Wednesdays 

Silence for Greater Brain Power  

Shshshsh…don’t make a sound! Silence, the new/old discovery, encourages growth of brain cells, especially in the hippocampus.
This organ sits (silently we may presume) storing memories, especially those that will go in long term memory.

What’s vitally important about science discovering the power of silence? Imagine an office space where the air 
holds only hushed sounds of a few conversations, where phones and copy machines and typing, doors and (horror!) music are gone, in favour of that thick soothing layer of no noise.

Consider shopping in stores where the latest blast of someone’s favourite choice of music just doesn’t happen, leaving you to really focus on what you want and why. All right, so that’s not how marketers will approach this information, but maybe, eventually…

If silence affects one area of the brain positively that leads us to consider other areas may also be served by silence. And meditation, that latest path to adding years of positive living, health, well-being to your life span? Uh huh. Silence.

So consider giving yourself a short pause of complete 
silence. Think of silence as your best ally toward a more peaceful life.  Even ten minutes during a lunch break (look for a museum, a park, a library close by your office) or after work as the de-fusing time between work and home. Or offer a night cap to your day with a period of silence. And sleep better for it. 

Wellness Wednesdays Benefits of Silent Retreat

Wellness Wednesday 

Benefits of Silent Retreat

Some of you may have read about experiments by Imke Kirste of Duke University. Mice in her laboratory showed neurogenesis, or new nerve growth in the hippocampus area of their brains following exposure to two hours of silence per day.
The hippocampus is an area deeply associated with forming and properly storing memories. It takes only a moment of reflection to understand that memory and identity are profoundly connected. Therefore neurons in the  hippocampus conduct energy that informs our sense of self.

The World Health Organization also studied the effects of Noise Pollution here 

This study concluded 3,000 deaths from heart attacks had been caused primarily by Noise Pollution! 
Silence is indeed golden and increasingly difficult to come by in our daily lives. Stay tuned here and at Stouffville Yoga Life for the next silent retreat opportunity. 

Wellness Wednesdays Retreat to Advance

Wellness Wednesday

Retreat to Advance!

If you want to advance, retreat! So goes the best advice.

We gathered this past weekend for a few precious hours of silence and gained buckets of calm, increased clarity and increased joy in living. Safe to say, everyone benefited. 
Retreat creates advance: in physical health, mental clarity and joy of living. 
With all you are bombarded with daily, with all the energy you put into being the best person you can be, retreat allows you to come back to you. Retreat provides the vital silence, excellent awareness and calm heart that then informs your daily life. 
Einstein said you cannot solve a problem by thinking at the same level that caused the problem. He must have known about retreat and its capacity for letting your mind find different, deeper, lighter and more honest reflections of life, love and you!

Meditation On My Birthday

Meditation on My Birthday 

I am sixty-six today and my chest tingles with that sensation that means the words must out. Something wants to be in this world, some thought or sentiment previously unexpressed pushes for itself because every time we speak, every time we write, the words fall themselves toward a pattern never before manifest. We live in this miracle every day. Let me share with you what today’s words need to express.

I am sixty-six and have successfully avoided success with its excess of things, its game of envy, the heavy weight of owning objects identifiable by everyone else; instead, the unique eruptions of what I own fomented from the strictures of my heart. Where I could not help but love, and work, and sweat, and worry, material world responded to my attentiveness. My glorious child, now a mature adult, with the required amount of discontent and as yet unrealized goals, his wife and two flames of delight and surprise my grandkids; my beautiful, humble, small home where, from the windows, I see trees, and sky and oceans of clouds, all these and more rose from the great silence behind all things, the great invisibility that keeps all things until the right moment for their arrival in form. Had I set out to attain them their form would be different, perhaps compromised and so I celebrate the beauty and power of what has arisen despite my inadequacies.

My home opens daily to the riches of life in nature, in seasons and my home birthed a stone terrace spontaneously, as magnificent a structure as the palazzos in Italy and every bit as stunning. This magnificent oddity eclipsed my conscious intent and rational thought to rise like Botticelli’s Venus on the shores of the lake I call mine.

I am sixty-six today and have easily outrun fame. I walked out that door, leaving that singular persona, same every day personality, same as everyone else cookie cutter psychic cluster demanded of anyone claiming fame. For whoever makes us famous, throttles us, chains us, demands performance in more ways than I am prepared to play. I celebrate my lack of fame with the resulting freedom to frame any moment, any word, any breath with my twin, the great liberator, Death.

I am anything because Death owns me. Always has. 

At sixty-six, I have escaped the darkest parts of life, narrowly and have still a profound sense of the mystery of men and women.  I have not lived decades in the same marriage and the combustion caused by my tempestuous emotions ignited more than one star—although the men involved may point upwards to a black hole.

I am sixty-six today and have claimed the liberty of work, my work, by drinking from the cup of sorrow, sadness, bitter grief, loss offered by others who visit me. I drink deeply to know the one taste of salt in all life. Having reduced the salt in my own, I must have this life balancing element from the darkness of the stories of others to recall how salt’s acid burns away the frivolous and shallow, deepens the etches of having lived, once, this glorious experience.

I am sixty-six and still the child in me tugs towards the dolphins, the oceans of the world, skips hearing the news of Benoit Mandlebrot that we dance in the field of infinity, his presence of mind as wide as Rumi’s meadows.

I am sixty-six and curious about almost everything, humbled by how little I still know, grateful to have survived the harsh certainty of my earlier years when life demanded, and when I believed I had, answers.

Now, I mumble frequently and resort always to simple phrases that wish others well. May you be healthy. May you be happy. May you be glad of this day, this moment, as I am, may you be. 

Five Parallels Between #metoo, #timesup and Mass Shootings

General Health 
Feb 19th 2018

Five Parallels Between #metoo, #timesup and Mass Shootings 

1/ Men are in control. Men are in control in boardrooms, in production companies, in starring roles, in government. 

2/More men cause massive killings (98%) with assault weapons, than women, and more men rape (98.1%) than women.

3/ Men need power. Having an assault weapon is of course penile in its power metaphor. Having a penis that doesn’t work without violence means violence, or rape, is necessary for a sense of power through penis.  

4/ Lawlessness. The majority of law makers are men. These men do not make laws that appropriately punish rapists, nor do they construct laws that restrict properly acquiring assault weapons.

5/ Men must change, both themselves internally and the laws they pass to govern others. 

I love men. See my blog www.soulsciences.net on Feb 19th, 2018 Meditation on Loving Men to understand how much I love men. My sisters love men. All the women in this world who have been raped, molested, betrayed by men, and that is in fact all of us, all these women are my sisters. My sisters and I have continued in large numbers to love men, raise men, comfort men, discuss, argue and stand side by side with men. It’s time men changed—both the laws and themselves.