The Buddha That Got Away

As I have mentioned in previous posts, our trip to Thailand was very Buddha centric. We traveled from one city to the next visiting pristine golden temples and ancient crumbling ruins to see incredible images of the Buddha.

Some of the Buddhas were newly made while others were hundreds of years old. I was excited to learn that we were going to see the one Buddha I had seen on the Internet and wanted to see in person, the Phra Atchana Buddha. This particular Buddha is one of the largest, but I had never seen an image of the whole statue, just the hand. I have a great appreciation for hands and images of hands;  it was the hand of this particular Buddha that I found quite intriguing.

The day we arrived at the site of the Phra Atchana Buddha it was an incredible 105 degrees with humidity that seemed just as high. As I made my way off the air condition bus and headed towards the Phra Atchana Buddha, all I could see was the upper part of this huge, white colored Buddha. So I had no idea this was the Buddha I had been longing to see, the one with the larger than life, graceful, golden hand. I had always assumed the Buddha with the graceful golden hand was  golden all over. Later I was  informed that devotees purchase real gold foil and as an offering and place the gold foil onto the white hand of this statue, making it appear golden.

As I made my way towards this Buddha, I felt overwhelmed by the heat and humidity. The three women I traveled with, along with a few others on our tour, quite aware of the heat didn’t attempt to leave the bus. As I stepped off the bus, the air seemed incredibly thick and the Buddha appeared half of a football field away. As I walked a sharp pain entered my left eye and traveled to my head. I wondered if I might have a heat stroke if I proceeded. I was a quarter way there, when I turned back. Once on the bus, I refreshed myself with cold water and Anu Essentials Refresh Spritzer.

I was bothered by the fact that I didn’t get to see this one Buddha that I had long imagined seeing. In this instance, perhaps it was ignorance that saved me. Had I known this was the Golden Hand Buddha, I might have pushed on to my demise. I’ve asked myself what does it mean that I didn’t get to see this particular Buddha? Was it symbolic, indicating that I wasn’t spiritually ready? I don’t know, but I do know I feel like this was the “Buddha that got away.”  It is for this reason and many others, that I will have to return to Thailand one day. It just won’t be during their summer. And just imagine, days in a row of 105 degree and this was considered the start of the Thai summer season.

This photo by our tour guide, Kanokwan Taewattana.  Thank you Nok!

 

 

This Little Piggy Went to Market – In Thailand

Today was a day of incredible markets and unusual experiences. In Thailand like in most markets, they are not just a place to purchase food, goods and pick up desirables. It’s a place to commune, connect, and perpetuate community. This is more than evident in the markets we visited today.

First stop, the Maeklong Railway Market just outside of Bangkok proper in the Samut Sakhon Provence. There is no other market like this one in the world. The story goes that the market was originally on land that became too expensive for the merchants, so they decided to relocate to place that would be free, the railroad.

This market is set up on either side of the railroad tracks and when the train comes through (eight times a day) everyone has the clear the tracks and make room for the train. For shoppers this merely means moving out of the way. For the merchants this means, winding in their awnings, rolling back the carts that their wares are on (a foot or two) and then there are other items low enough to the ground that the train passes over them without harm. It’s a most unbelievable experience.

Once the train passes, awnings are rolled back out, crates with wares are rolled back into place and the shoppers are once again all a bustle. Everything you might need for creating a dish is there, vegetables of all sorts, as well as fruits, seasoning, fresh fish and seafood, meats of all kinds and young girls stringing the worship garland of marigold and jasmine that I purchased and wore around my neck.

The second stop was the Floating Market in Dameoen Saduek. We drove another half hour or so to arrive at the dock to take the long nose boat to the floating market. This is a canal that was dug by hand which is incredible to imagine considering the length of the canal. We were on a pretty fast moving boat for at least twenty minutes.

Two of the elements of both of these markets are the incredible heat and humidity and this is true despite the fact that we began our journey at 7:00 to avoid the height of the heat. Despite that the heat was quite intense a somewhat draining. Thank goodness for the air-conditioned tour bus. The other element consists of droves of people, locals shopping and tourist from all countless far away lands. The largest groups are tourists are from China.

Last stop wasn’t your usual market; it was small and was actually a cocoanut processing compound. At this stop we were taught how the cocoanuts grow, the many ways it’s processed for oil, to make sugar, syrup, soap, oil, milk, juice and of course we were able to purchase, fresh, young coconuts to drink. Most Thai food includes some element of the coconut. As a special treat for us, our wonderful tour guide, Nok, purchased some plantain bananas that were rolled in cocoanut shavings and deep-fried. It was very delicious.

At this stop we were also able to go inside of a traditional Thai home. Made of teak wood, these homes are on stilts to raise the house to avoid flood, to house the water catching device and because having the house high off the ground, makes for a cooler home.

Inside each home is a shrine to the Buddha, in varying degrees of elaborateness.   There are also shrines outside of every home and business. Each home has two shrines, a shrine to the land elements (soil, air, water, plants, all botanicals) and a shrine to the ancestors. The ancestors have their own home outside the house because they are not allowed to live inside the home; they have their own home.

The land shrine is on a single pedestal and the ancestor shrine is typically on six legs. There are offering made to the shrine daily of acknowledgment and prayers, incense burned, food offered and worship garlands made of flowers like the one I purchased. I wore mine all day long and was just enchanted by the fragrant aroma of the marigold and jasmine. I can only imagine the ancestors loving this fragrance too. It’s jasmine that is the primary essence in the Anu Essentials Sea Scape Perfume, a fragrance that has easy access to my heart.

Also, this home, market had many animals, monkeys, birds, roosters, dogs and a cacophony of insects, which made for quite the sound system.  We finally arrived back to the hotel and just as I was about to prepare for a nap, veteran globe trotter Kay called and asked me to go with her to an antique mall.  That would take a whole other blog post if I could even find the words to describe one incredibly fabulous store with antiques that are just mind blogging. That’s another post for another day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally there was a delicious dinner with my two veteran, globetrotting friends who planned this incredible trip, Kay and Patricia at the night market on the river front.  Yes indeed, the market remains a hub for people to come together, to be together, to live and enjoy life.

Come Bathe With Me

Speaking with a friend, I was surprised when she shared that she couldn’t remember the last time she’d taken a bath. She said that it had been years, that she only takes showers. I couldn’t imagine that. As a child living in the south, we didn’t have showers, we only had bathtubs. And when we moved to NY, I never wanted to take a bath again. I thought baths were passé and showers were cool and hip. But my mom would insist we take baths too. Perhaps that’s why as an adult I returned to the pleasure of bathing.

These days, showering seems to have replaced the bathing experience in most people’s lives. I wonder if it’s just a city thing? Urban dwellers tend to live more hectic lives and people believe they are too busy for baths. Lost is the concept that bathing is a very ancient remedy that would mitigate the stress of our modern lifestyles.  It’s a magically therapeutic experience. Many ancient cultures took bathing to its heights with luxurious public bath houses.

My friend admitted that one reason she didn’t take baths is that she didn’t like her tub. That certainly could be a deterrent, just as a beautiful tub beacons. Your average hotels will have tubs that are just meant to stand in for showering. But the hotel that it is encouraging its guests to bathe, to relax will typically have a stand-alone tub that is not connected with a shower; and I take full advantage of such a design.

I once stayed at the Hotel Nikko, a Japanese owned hotel. In addition to everything else that was absolutely exceptional and exquisite, they had a soaking tub, an ofuro. For those who are unfamiliar, a soaking tub is shorter and deeper than American made tubs. The impact is that the depth of the water slows down your heartbeat causing a deeper form of relaxation. It was a very special experience.

There have been many a moment when I’ve found myself standing in the shower, warm water spraying down on my body, and I realize how very  tired I am.  I then wonder why am I standing there, when I could be laying down, in a tub of warm, fragrant water?  And in some instances, I have just stopped and turned off the shower and ran a bath instead. I never regret doing that, switching gears for my well being. Laying down in warm to hot water is a far more relaxing experience than standing up in a shower. It naturally slows you down and gives you permission to lay back and unwind. Yet, many forgo this rejuvenating treat.  Water is healing, water renews, it is the elixir of life and it is my firm belief that every woman should sit in water and soak from time to time. The same goes for men. Everyone in the family can benefit from a bath, from babies to elders.

I am curious to know why aren’t people taking more baths? It seems with the level of stress that many are experiencing this would be a very accessible remedy. Please share with me your preference, shower or bath and why.  And of course I encourage to naturally enhance your bathing experience using Anu Essentials botanically based Body Care.  I do!

Anu Essentials Botanical Soaps

The End of The Line

It has not been easy for me to admit this to myself, let alone anyone else. But I can no longer delay informing you that after much consideration I have decided to discontinue the Anu Essentials Line of Hair Products with the exception of the Hair Oils. Our botanically infused Hair Oils have been handmade by yours truly since 1980 and will continue on.

In the current stock there are just a dozen or so of the Deep Conditioner and a couple of dozen of the Nourishing Gel Shampoo and Moisture Rich Conditioner. But due to a recent delivery there is enough Leave-In-Conditioner, Luscious Curling Cream and Soft Set Gel to last through the spring and summer. Yes, I know. I’m more heart broken than you can imagine over this reality. But at this point I must cut my losses.

My focus now is on my true love, botanical elements (herbs and essential oils) and all the ways I can infuse them into our lives. This includes Body Care, Essential Oil remedies (soon to come) mood enhancers that include our Refresh and Spiritual Spritzers, Perfumes and semi-precious, gem stone jewels. We will also be offering unique home and environment fragrances to enliven, cleanse and enhance your breathing space. It is our plan to expand in all the above categories.

As one who has been studying the healing arts for many years, I have studied Chinese Medicine, I am a Certified Yoga Instructor, and Reiki Practitioner, the desire to heal is a part of my DNA.  The infusion of herbal based beauty and environmental care products of Anu Essentials are an extension of my desire to offer natural healing solutions that beautify and inspire. I will be turning 60 years young this month and what better time than now to fulfill my soul’s desire to heal and beautify using the gifts from God, via nature?

Anu Prestonia – Yoga photo session, summer 2016

I would like offer my heart felt appreciation to all those who have supported Anu Essentials line of Natural Hair Products over these four years. We encourage you to stock up on the Hair Products you like most, while they last. I have! Due to the quality and cost of manufacturing the products, there will be no sale or reduction of prices.

Last but not least, Great News!!! We are very excited to inform you that in the coming days, we will be launching a new Anu Essentials website.  Stay tune.  And Many Thanks!

 

 

Why You Are Never Alone

The holiday season, formerly known as the Holy Days, are nearly here. And for some people it is a time when many emotions are triggered causing feelings of sadness, loss, depression and loneliness. Being aware of this also means it is a very good time to take great care of your emotional self and realize you are never alone.

Every year leading up to Christmas is the Winter Solstice, a most sacred time that coincides with the celebration of Christ and this year Hanukkah falls on Christmas Eve. It’s a wonderful time to sit with yourself and listen to that quiet voice within that we often don’t take the time to hear. We’re running here and there, doing this and that, finding all manner of ways to distract us from the most precious gift we can offer ourselves. Often we’re walking around, sad, irritated, and out of sorts without being aware of our disconnect. Why? Because we’re doing all we can to avoid being with ourselves. Some of us crave solitude, while others avoid it like the plague.

African American woman looking up towards the sky.

I would like to encourage you to spend some time with yourself to listen to your heart’s desire. Write in your journal and express what you have been repressing or just not acknowledging. Allow these thoughts to come up and out so that you can determine to take right action or eliminate those thoughts that are not serving you. Check out this quick video on The Art of Stopping by Thích Nhât Hanh.

Avoid being around people, gathering and situations that stress you. Stay home and be with yourself, be with the most amazing person in the world… you!  Even if you have small children, family, and guests in your home, there is a way to find time to be with yourself in a meaningful way, a way that nurtures and energizes you.  Realize that no one will give you that special time to be with you, you must carve it out for yourself.  This is the practice of self care.

Man meditating on beach

There are so many rewarding ways to be with ourselves and discover the magic of being present to our own greatness, our divinity. Here is a list of some of what I do to get right with me that you might consider:

  • .Meditation – there are many kinds of meditations. My favorite is one of the easiest, it’s just following the breath. Find a quiet place, sit and close your eyes and focus your mind on just following your breath.  Every time you realize your mind has gone elsewhere, you just gently bring it back and continue following the breath. If you’ve never meditated before, start with just 5 minutes of this practice daily. Eventually you will want to extend the time.
  • Reading – I become inspired from reading sacred texts, poetry and or philosophy. I’m sure you have a least one book that would easily fit into one of these categories that you love. Reading these books anew for even a short while, will nourish your soul.
  • Bathing – Ahhh, the feeling of being back in the womb in the warmth and gentleness of water, the elixir of life. Here is where I use Anu Essentials to transport me. Our  products are formulated not with new, manufactured synthetic scents, but with ancient aromas that carry our same DNA and help to heal our bodies, minds and hearts.
  • Music – Listening to sacred music or any kind of music that inspires you.  Whether it’s gospel or some music from the other side of the planet can heal the soul. You may go for something something new and different or something familiar and comforting.
  • Moving Meditation – There are number of gentle, slow activities that can go under the banner of moving meditation.  One is mindful walking. Journaling is another. My favorite these days are adult coloring books. How wonderful it is to bring a childhood joy into adulthood.  And of course, there’s yoga or dancing.  Dance like no one is watching and have fun with it.
  • Resting – Taking naps, “sleeping in” as they call it does the nervous system a world of good. This is especially so during the two most sacred times of the year, the Summer Solstice(June 21st-24th) and the Winter Solstice (December 21st to 24th). Most people miss this opportunity to tune into the Universe during the Solstice, this sacred time of the year because we’ve been conditioned to rip and run leading up to Christmas day. When we do this, we miss the most important part of this holiday.
  • Nature – Nothing heals like nature.  Weather permitting spend time in nature to heal and restore you.
  • Acknowledge your Ancestors – It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate.  Purchase some white flowers and put them on a table with photos of your dearly departed, perhaps light a candle and say a prayer and or speak to your love ones on the other side of eternity. As I’ve mentioned before, Ancestors like it when you talk about them, but they love it when you talk to them. Tell them how much you love and miss them, and anything else you’d like them to know. Then sit and listen to hear what they may need to share with you.

Smiling African American Woman Standing On A Log On A Rocky Beach

What are some of the things you like to do to renew yourself? Please share them with us here.  This is the most precious gift you can give to you and to those who love you. We can demonstrate loving others by taking good care of ourselves, our emotional, mental and physical health. We don’t have to be sad, lonely or anxious. Even if you are with family and friends you can feel alone if you’re not tuned in and taking care of you. Tap in and decide to see that most precious side of yourself. See in yourself what you admire in others.  It’s there. Begin by listening to that very quiet voice within and know that your angels and ancestors are always with you wherever you are. We are loved and we are never alone.