StarFire Teja’s Sad Photo Challenge for Suicide Prevention

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day, and I am launching a Sad Photo Challenge. I invite everyone to share photos of themselves crying and/or looking sad, to help those who are suffering in despair to realize that they are not alone in their sadness.

Think about how much we all put on our happy faces for others, especially for social media. I think that as a society we need to allow sadness and realness and authenticity of feelings. I don’t think that we should wallow in sorrow or overindulge in it, but rather, we need to allow sadness to naturally flow through everyone, including men, women, teenagers, and children.

When I took the photo featured in this post (almost ten years ago), I was crying and feeling very, very sad. As I looked in my sad eyes in the mirror, I suddenly became inspired to snap a photo, never dreaming that I would ever show it to anyone! At the time I thought, “Why not capture this sad moment, like I capture all the happy moments?” So now I challenge you to also share a sad photo of yourself, with the caption “I am accepting StarFire Teja’s Sad Photo Challenge for Suicide Prevention.”

SadPhotoChallenge_SuicidePrevention_ReachingForOrange_StarFireTeja

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, then you know that I have been dealing with a Fibromyalgia flare lately, and I have to consistently work to happy up my mind and to keep a good, positive attitude. Well, one night a few weeks ago I dreamt that I walked up to two fellows from my high school class, and I said, “Guys, I’ve come to the end of my rope.”

People who commit suicide have truly come to the end of their ropes. When I say that I would never commit suicide, because I couldn’t do that to my family and friends, and because I don’t believe in killing living beings (which is why I choose a plant-based lifestyle), and then I say “but I am in such despair that I wish I would die of natural causes,” no one is alarmed and sends me to the psych unit because I first stated that I would never commit suicide. Not only are they not alarmed, they might say something like, “sorry you’re having such a hard time,” and then go about their day, without realizing that the despair I’m feeling might be every bit as alarming as the despair of someone who would commit suicide… Perhaps the only difference is that I would not kill myself… But, as I said in my dream, sometimes I feel like I’ve come to the end of my rope…

How can we truly help people who have come to the end of their ropes? I believe we can help through active listening, genuine compassion, and understanding. Even if you have never felt deep despair yourself, you can still listen and try to understand. You can also remind people that they are not alone in their pain. In fact, suicide is among the leading causes of death in the United States, and according to the World Health Organization, “Close to 800,000 people die due to suicide every year, which is one person every 40 seconds. Suicide is a global phenomenon and occurs throughout the lifespan.”

We need to welcome the tears of others and meet them where they are, so that they can feel that where their rope ends, a greater rope begins. We are all connected as part of one continuous energy. We all feel pain. We all want happiness. Not just the human species, but all living beings feel suffering as well as happiness. We are all part of the same rope, and we need to help each other feel that connection to everyone and everything.

If ever you feel that you have come to the end of your rope, please know that you are not ever alone in your pain. Help and connection are always available to you.

For further hope and inspiration, please read my previous post, “It Is Your Duty To Live” and my new book Reaching for Orange: Practices, Visualizations, & Blessings to Help You Happy Up Your Life.

If you live in the United States, you can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. It is available 24 hours everyday. You can also visit the website: SuicidePreventionLifeline.org.

So, will you accept the challenge and share a sad photo of yourself for the world to see? Your sad photo might just help someone in despair to grab onto that greater rope that we all share.

May this post be helpful to many beings.

May All Beings Be Free of Suffering.
May All Beings Be Happy.

 

 

Advertisements

The Yoga of Chocolate

As I shared in a recent post (“What Kind of Yoga do You Practice?”), there are many ways to practice yoga beyond just the physical poses. In today’s post I’ll be sharing how to practice the yoga of chocolate!

Do you love chocolate? Or do you know anyone who loves chocolate? I’m guessing you are answering yes to at least one of these questions!

Chocolate is made from cacao beans which grow inside pods on small trees, and besides being high in antioxidants, and helpful to heart health, it can greatly improve your mood. Chocolate creates excitement and sends a signal to your brain that something fun is about to happen!

The word yoga means “union” and so the goal of the yogic practices done by a yogi (male) or yogini (female) is to achieve a state of union with divine consciousness. Depending on your beliefs, you may call that consciousness God, Goddess, Divine Love, Nature, the Universe, or many other names. In the yoga tradition it is believed that your deepest self is connected with that divine consciousness, so when you do yogic practices you feel that union inside yourself.

Eating chocolate in a conscious way can enhance your feelings of union with your deepest self. Some ways to practice the yoga of chocolate include ~

~ Offer the chocolate to the Divine, or to your deepest self. Bless the chocolate with your highest gratitude vibrations.

~ Imagine the tree on which the cacao beans grew… under sunlight by day, and under starlight by night. Cultivate fascination for the miracle that this superfood grows naturally on this sacred Earth.

~ Take small bites, close your eyes, and eat the chocolate as slowly as you possibly can. Savor the taste and be fully aware of all sensations in the present moment. Allow your heart and mind to open to all the love in the universe!

~ If you have time, do some spiritual practices after eating your chocolate. In Bhakti Yoga, the yoga of love and devotion, chanting (singing sacred mantras) is one of the primary practices, and it goes especially well with chocolate. Both singing and chocolate open the mind and heart to deep feelings of love, so combining the two is like giving yourself a superblast of big love energies!

Like coffee (see my post “Coffee Is Good Medicine”), it is important to buy organic, fair-trade chocolate… And, dark chocolate is best for many reasons, including health (dairy nullifies cacao’s benefits), and compassion (the cows suffer greatly when their milk is stolen from them)…

For many years my absolute favorite chocolate bar has been this salted almond 70% dark chocolate bar by Theo, pictured here on top of my Grandma Hazel’s floral tin, in which I store my chocolate stash…

YogaOfChocolate_TheoChocolate_StarFireTeja

I have been enjoying chocolate as medicine for decades, but sometimes I take a break from it, just to make sure that I’m not addicted to it, and to make sure that I still enjoy life without it! So, I did not eat any chocolate for the month of July, and I had so many seriously happy days, which proved that I am not dependent on chocolate… But, some days I do enjoy it as one of my many happy-ing up tools!

I hope you enjoyed this post on the yoga of chocolate… This is day 3 of my Virtual Book Launch Week! You will learn much more about yogic practices beyond the physical poses in my new book, Reaching for Orange: Practices, Visualizations, & Blessings to Help You Happy Up Your Life, available now on Lulu! ~ Thank you so much to Andrea, of The Hummingbird’s Journal, for ordering a copy! 🙂

May All Beings Be Happy!

 

Photo* of cacao beans by allybally4b on Pixabay.

* If you are viewing this post in an email, simply click on the title of the article and you will be taken to the StarFire Teja blog where you can see the photo of cacao beans.

 

Something to Ponder: Bees

In the version of the Ramayana called the Shri Ramacharitamanasa, when Prince Rama and his wife Sita were banished to the forest for fourteen years, the poet-saint Tulsidas wrote that the people of the kingdom “felt as miserable as bees robbed of their honey.”

Something to Ponder:
Why do bees make honey?
Are bees feeling creatures
who experience happiness and misery?

 

Bee photo by Krzysztof Niewolny on Unsplash.

Soaked Oats: A Super Easy Breakfast Recipe

Are you looking for a healthy breakfast recipe? Did you know that oats have many health benefits?

High in antioxidants, nutrients, and fiber, oats are very good for your heart’s health, and can lower cholesterol as well as improve blood sugar control. And, if you eat a gluten-free diet, you can buy gluten-free oats.

Have you ever heard of eating soaked oats?

Yes, it is true. You do not have to spend any time cooking oats. Instead, you can soak your oats overnight. This saves a lot of time in the mornings! When my sons were little, I made them each a jar of soaked oats the night before, and in the morning when they were ready to eat, they simply opened their jars, stirred, and began eating.

So, for this recipe you will need an empty jar, oats, optional ingredients such as raisins and dates, and some pure filtered water. Sometime in the evening, as part of your bedtime routine, add ½ cup oats to the jar and top with any dried fruits you like (I prefer raisins and medjool dates), then add water until it covers the top of the dried fruits. Secure the lid tightly and sit on the counter. Then enjoy some sweet restorative sleep, with happy dreams…

In the morning, you can simply stir and eat out of the jar if you are like my sons… Or, you can pour your soaked oats into your favorite bowl. I prefer my bright red bowl! Next, sprinkle on cinnamon (I use a heaping ½ teaspoon), and any other spices you like, such as ginger powder, turmeric, or cardamom. Then add any nuts, seeds, or nut butters. I love walnuts and almond butter stirred into mine. And finally, if you have any fresh fruit or berries, you can add them also. I really love the soaked oats with strawberries and red grapes.

Before taking that first yummy bite, take a relaxing breath, cultivate gratitude for the blessing of having healthy food, and then eat mindfully. You might also consider doing a practice of offering the food to the Divine… to your concept of Something Greater, such as God, Nature, Source of All Love, or the Universe. I offer my food to Hanuman, who is an aspect of God in Hinduism. He represents Love, Devotion, Strength, and Positive Energy, so I invite those qualities to come into me through the food.

I hope you enjoy this super easy breakfast recipe! Please let me know how it goes… Who knows, it might just change your life!

Please buy organic food whenever possible, as it is best for your health and best for the environment.

Thank you for reading the StarFire Teja Blog!
I hope that these posts help you to happy up your life.

May All People Have Healthy Food and Pure Water.

 

Half-Way Through 2019: Goals Review Time!

Hello Dear Readers!

Can you even believe that we are already half-way through this year? And how is it going with the goals you set for 2019?

On January 1st, I set these goals for the New Year:

To be Happy, Healthy, Holy, Hopeful, and Helpful.

I actually did not try to make them all begin with the letter “H”… Those goals just came to me spontaneously, in that order, and they all just happened to begin with H… So here is my check-in about how my goals are going:

Happy: As the image with this post says, “I ❤ Happiness.” Years ago I bought a bunch of organic bananas that had a little oval sticker with that quote. I still have that tiny sticker, but it is too small to photograph, so I made this image… I recently suggested to WordPress that they include the featured photo in the emails, but since that isn’t happening yet, I’m attaching the image here again for those who are viewing this post by email…

IHeartHappiness_StarFireTeja

Anyhow, I would say that overall I am feeling much happier in 2019. It is a choice to be happy, and I definitely choose happiness… AND I do practices to keep happy-ing up, and when those practices are effective I write about them in blog posts and books to help you happy up also!

Healthy: Well, physically I look very healthy, and I do eat an organic, whole foods plant-based, gluten-free diet, as well as exercise and take care of my health on all levels… AND, for decades I have dealt with many strange ailments and aches and pains that come and go and move around. My symptoms lately seem like perhaps a Fibromyalgia flare-up, so soon I will be finding a new doctor to get evaluated… Thankfully, all of the practices that I do to happy up also help me to manage my emotional reactions to not feeling well physically. And, fortunately I have good days as well as bad days, so I am very grateful for the good days!

Holy: For many years on my spiritual journey, I straddled two worlds… In one world I wanted to be a nun, and in the other world I wanted to find prince charming. (Please read my favorite blog post ever about how I no longer have that desire for a partner: “Into the Fire.”) Now that I am just living in the one world as a nun, married to God and the Spiritual Life, I am relieved to no longer be searching for an earthly guy… AND, I’m still learning a lot about desires and attachments in the earthly realm! Just because I freed myself of one desire, did not mean that I freed myself of all desires! So even though I am doing many daily spiritual practices, I would not describe myself as being entirely pure and holy. I am doing my best and I am always challenging myself to grow more!

Hopeful: Recently I discovered a new hero, Thich Nhat Hanh, and I read his awesome book, Peace is Every Step, which I will be reviewing in a blog post soon. In that book he talks about how hope is necessary when we are having a hard time because it helps us to get through the difficulties… but then once we get through the challenges, hope is not enough for true happiness, because hope is for the future, whereas happiness is to be found in the present moment. That really resonated as truth for me, and I reflected on how I had set “Hopeful” as one of my 2019 goals because I was still living in what I call my decade of hardships (which began in March, 2009)… And so the first few months of 2019 I was struggling to keep hope alive in my mind and heart… But thankfully, in the past few months there has been a shift into feeling hopeful most of the time… So I think I can check this one off, and move on to living in the happy present moment!

Helpful: Due to the health issues mentioned above, I am not able to do all that I would like to do in terms of helping others… But, I am proud to say that this year I trained with a local hospice and I have been going out to visit with dying patients and their families. And I have been posting helpful blog articles… And I am getting ready to publish my new book, Reaching for Orange: Practices, Visualizations, & Blessings to Help You Happy Up Your Life. (For more information, please read “Double Coffee Days Ahead.”)… So, I am being helpful in the ways that I can…

Thank you for reading my 2019 Goals Review!

How about you… How is it going with your goals for the year?

 

Happy Half-Way Through 2019 to Everyone!