The Buddhist Soul in Me

I am many things, but I am not a Buddhist. Still, every so often the secret Buddhist in my soul demands to be fed: lighting a little incense, placing a flower in a bowl like an offering, sweeping a spider out the door (instead of squishing it), or taking a day trip to the Chuang Yen Monastery in Carmel, NY.

As Yogi Bera famously said, “It’s like deja vu all over again.” I go to the Monastery and something in my heart sighs, “Ahhhhhh.” I feel like I have returned home and, despite the constant chaos of ongoing construction, it is as if the temple has been there a thousand years. My soul feels old in the most wonderful way, and I feel a connection to every Buddhist who has ever lived and to all my possible Buddhist past lives.

I meditate in the grand room with 10,000 Buddhas, I go through the gift shop and fortify myself with more incense for the months long drought til the next time I can visit, and I lament the lack of a vegetarian meal from the cafeteria that has never been open in all the times I’ve been there. Still, I am satisfied. I walk the muddy loop of pathway that has been incompletely paved for the last seven years, past the beautiful statue of Chuang Yen, and I breathe in the scent of flowers as I watch the birds fly over the pond. And the Buddhist in my soul knows it is perfect.


The Voice of Your Higher Self

| by Cheryl Shainmark

I learned over time that this is the sound of my higher self. Sometimes it’s barely there in the background, pointing me in the right direction with a nudge or a song lyric, or a bit of humor and love. Other times she comes through loud and clear with precise instructions or suggestions. No topic is too large or too small to engage my higher self, and the range of comments over the years have both startled and amused me.

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Take A Walk on the Wild Side: Encounters With Animals in Nature

| by Cheryl Shainmark

Most of us have had the experience — wonderful, heart-stopping, sometimes terrifying — of unexpectedly encountering an animal in the wild. It may be the tranquil sight of deer off in the woods, or a hawk circling in the canyons of Manhattan. It can be scary, as in some of the recent bear sightings on the East Coast, or inspire reverence for the raw beauty of the creature sighted.

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Tell Me A Story: Stirring Up Cellular Memories with Meditation

| by Cheryl Shainmark

I have been meditating for over fifteen years now and find it an essential part of my life. Many have written about the substantial physical and emotional benefits, and while I’ve certainly found that to be the case, too, I’ve also noticed that there is a component of releasing “cellular memories” that is rarely addressed. People shy away from phenomena that are not so easily explained, but whether you call it “cellular memories,” “past lives,” or releasing “old patterns,” I have found that there is something extraordinary happening that also brings welcome relief to the body and the spirit.

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Feeding Body & Soul

| by Cheryl Shainmark

If you’d asked me a few years ago whether I’d be following a virtually wheat free, 90% vegetarian — hell, 90% vegan diet, I’d have said, “That’s nuts.” Now I’m likely to say, “That’s raw cashews to you, and by the way, do you know how many recipes you can make with them?” It’s safe to say that I’m not alone in making a big diet and lifestyle change, either. Based on the latest bestsellers, opinion pages in the New York Times , increase in vegetarian and vegan websites and buzz on the Internet, it seems we have reached some kind of “tipping point” toward a radical change in the way we eat and what we will accept from the food industry.

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A Few Thoughts About Thinking

| by Cheryl Shainmark

I recently finished reading “Anathem” by Neal Stephenson, for the second time, (not something I usually do) and I was struck by an offhand observation that the young main character makes about another man who may be hundreds of years old. At one point, the old man is chanting and holds the same note for hours, (clearly some kind of re-breathing technique), and the young man ponders what it’s like to have such a different notion of time that you would want to chant the same note for hours. Then he has the insight that a mind that has done that probably has very different thoughts from a mind that hasn’t.

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Have You Seen the Garden of 1,000 Buddhas in Montana?

| by Cheryl Shainmark

This video has lighted up our imaginations! Can you say road trip? Dateline NBC has captured the peaceful and sacred feeling of this wonderful site, called The Garden of a Thousand Buddhas. Located just north of Arlee, Montana, the multi-acre garden is nestled on a beautiful valley that is part of an Indian reservation for the Salish and Kootenai Tribes. Created through the visionary guidance of Gochen Tulku Sang-ngag Rinpoche, the Garden aligns positive properties of the physical world…

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If Plants Are Consciousness, What Happens When We Eat Them?

| by Cheryl Shainmark

Last week The New York Times ran an article, Sedate a Plant, and It Seems to Lose Consciousness. Is It Conscious? The new evidence that plants have a type of “conscious,” joins a host of other research indicating that plants are intelligent, understand where they are in space, respond to threats and obstacles, and communicate with each other. We’ve known for years that plants grow faster and lusher when you play the right music or speak nicely to them, but now there is evidence that plants form memories. Does that mean they remember that you were kind to them? And what does it mean now to eat them? What, if any, are the moral or ethical implications?

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Asking the Big Questions

| by Cheryl Shainmark

A dear friend of mine, Nick Borrell, says that when you ask the BIG questions, you open a window into the Universe. As he puts it, “It creates the opportunity for fresh air to flow in and for a fresh answer to emerge.” It invites the enormous energy of creativity to pour in, and you must be very careful to leave the window open long enough to get the answers you seek — you must be patient. Now, in the beginning of the New Year, is the time that we traditionally ask the big questions: what do we want in our lives? What do we want in our world?

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Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It

| by Cheryl Shainmark

I just finished reading “Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends on It,” by Kamal Ravikant. I have to say that this slim volume completely jumpstarted a whole new spiritual practice for me. I don’t usually rave (in print, at least)… but this is one of the most accessible, transformative books I have ever read — and at 57 pages, you’d have to be in a coma not to get through it. Actually, if you are in a coma I will come and sit by your side and read it to you, because I want “Love Yourself” to be the earworm that gets stuck in your head. You’ll thank me later.

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