Asteya: Yoga’s Answer to Hungry Ghost Syndrome

I met a hungry ghost at a dinner party. I know the type, but had never met one who was so far gone. We had an eye opening conversation that got me thinking.

The concept of hungry ghosts comes from Chinese Buddhism, Taoism and Chinese folklore. Hungry ghosts are lost souls, often depicted as having long, thin necks and huge swollen abdomens. According to tradition, evil deeds such as killing, stealing and sexual misconduct lead to becoming a hungry ghost.

“Defined by a fusion of rage and desire, tormented by unfulfilled cravings and insatiably demanding impossible satisfactions, hungry ghosts are condemned to inhabit shadowy and dismal places in the realm of the living. Their specific hunger varies according to their past karma and the sins they are atoning for. Some can eat but find it impossible to find food or drink. Others may find food and drink, but have pinhole mouths and cannot swallow. For others, food bursts into flames or rots even as they devour it.” – Hungry Ghosts: their History and Origin

This person was a living embodiment of the hungry ghost archetype. I soon realized that I was talking to a black hole of self-despair. I tried helping her but after a few attempts she became hostile so I let it go…

At the end of the night she had a flashback to a past trauma (poverty and starvation). She kept repeating:

“I was so hungry.”

One way she chose to deal with this was by directing her anger at the wealthy class. People she had never met or had any direct contact with. In her mind taxation was the solution to wealth inequality. She admitted that she lives beyond her means and has significant debt.

The interaction left me feeling drained and unsettled. One way I handle troubling situations is through research and contemplation (Jnana Yoga). My reflections led me back to the third Yama of Ashtanga Yoga: Asteya.

The Yamas are the universal ethical practices of yoga. Paired with the Niyamas (observances) these moral restraints form the foundation of Patanjali’s eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga.

Asteya means non-stealing. One could say that stealing is a response to a sense of powerlessness which stems from feelings of not being enough.

In this context, stealing extends beyond more obvious forms of theft (examples: pick pocketing, burglary, etc.). Stealing may also include:

  • Other people’s ideas
  • Disregarding personal boundaries
  • Having an envious state of mind
  • Taking up a person’s time or attention
  • Energy (succubi/incubi)
One thing we do know is this: many people who experience interactions with psychopaths and narcissists report feeling ‘drained; and confused and often subsequently experience deteriorating health. – The Psychopath: The Mask of Sanity

She had what I would call a hungry ghost syndrome. Somewhere along the way these people lose their connection to their personal power. It may be a result of abuse, resulting in any number of dependencies.

Asteya is a reminder that we are enough. Learning how to cultivate personal power is an excellent way to reverse hungry ghost syndrome. Building our energy reserves allows us to feel balanced, strong and healthy when we go out in the world.

Some ways to do this include: meditation, taking care of your body, self-love, and alone time. In my Intro to Pranayama course I teach people how to access their own complete, full source of energy.

Final thought from the Yoga Sutras:

Once non-stealing has been permanently established, all riches will be available.

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Thai Curry Soup

Thai Curry Soup Recipe

It’s great to be back on the Western Slope of Colorado. There is something extraordinary about this place. I felt it the first time I drove across the Utah-Colorado border. After exploring Arizona, Colorado, Idaho and Utah for the past six months it’s wonderful to know that this is where I want to live. The synchronicity that led to moving to Grand Junction was nothing short of miraculous. And the work that has gone into getting to this point has been significant. Needless to say, I am very, very grateful to be here.

The weather is perfect for soup.

It’s starting to cool down a bit at night, so I’ve been making some small changes to my diet and lifestyle. Soup has been calling my name, so I made a big batch of homemade chicken stock. Last night I whipped up a pot of Thai curry soup. The warming spices and rich coconut milk melded with the slow-cooked meat and vegetables which made the house smell wonderful!

A bowl of good medicine.

This recipe is incredibly versatile, so feel free to play around with the ingredients. I used what I had on hand and made my own curry powder with a good-quality organic turmeric powder. Turmeric is a great addition to your medicine chest [a.k.a. pantry]. According to Dr. Joseph Mercola:

“It has a long history of medicinal use in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) as well as Ayurvedic medicine.

Traditional medicinal uses include the treatment of liver disease, skin problems, respiratory and gastrointestinal ailments, sprained muscles, joint pains, and general wound healing.

Its benefits have since been well documented in the medical literature, and curcumin—one of the most well-studied bioactive ingredients in turmeric — has been found to promote health and protect against a wide array of health conditions.

It actually exhibits over 150 potentially therapeutic activities, including anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial activity, as well as potent anti-cancer properties that have been intensely studied.”

The full list of health benefits is way too long to list here, so let’s get cooking! One of the ways to really amp up the flavor of any soup or stew is to add a sprinkling of Celtic sea salt in the final stage of cooking. Just be careful – this stuff is STRONG and a little goes a long way. I also add just a touch of sugar to balance the flavor of the curry. I like spicy food but I can get a little heavy handed and the sugar helps to round things out.

Thai Curry Soup

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 1/4 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 small carrot, chopped
  • 1/3 yellow squash, chopped
  • 2 mushrooms, rinsed and chopped
  • 1/4 cup diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup cooked dark chicken meat, sliced
  • 1 rounded Tbsp curry powder
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1/2 a can of full fat coconut milk
  • Handful of baby spinach
  • Kosher and Celtic salt
  1. Start by warming the chicken stock in a small saucepan over low heat.
  2. Place a large wok over medium heat. Add coconut oil, chopped onion, red pepper and carrot. Stir occasionally and cook for a few minutes.
  3. Add chopped yellow squash and mushrooms and cook for another 2 minutes. Sprinkle with Kosher salt.
  4. Add minced garlic and sliced chicken meat. Cook for 1-2 minutes, then coat with curry powder. Stir mixture constantly (it will be dry) for another 1-2 minutes.
  5. Add chicken stock, coconut milk and diced tomatoes. Bring to a boil and then simmer until carrots are tender (15-2o minutes). Add a sprinkle of Celtic sea salt and adjust seasonings as needed.
  6. When ready to serve, add a generous handful of baby spinach and stir until the leaves are wilted. Ladle soup into two bowls.

Serve with hot white rice or cooked noodles.

Easy Thai Curry Soup Recipe

If you enjoyed this recipe you might also like: Home Rituals – Tortilla Soup 

Park Gym Mandala

Park Gym
Photo courtesy of Bodybuilding.com

So I recently discovered this amazing park gym in Boise, Idaho…

The Bodybuilding.com Park Gym at Ann Morrison Park is made up of 15 pieces of durable new fitness equipment installed on a 1,400-square-foot pad. Use of the equipment, which is accessible year round, is free to the public.

If you’re not sure how to use all of the pieces of equipment, you can follow the detailed, step-by-step instructions that are posted at the entrance. (Self Teacher Training note: you can also devise your own ways to use the equipment.) 

I’ve seen outdoor gyms before, but I really liked this one because it’s circular and because it’s designated for adults and children (14+). Why is this so awesome? Outdoor training season has officially started, so it’s probably a good time to discuss a common stereotype about adults using playgrounds. 

During the warm months I like to practice in parks and playgrounds. They’re great for Mind Body Parkour and exercising in nature does wonders for the spirit. Most of the adults are enjoying time with their children and my interactions with them are positive. But every once in a while I’ll encounter some resistance.

I could tell you stories…

There’s a fraction of the population that doesn’t support the idea of adults using playgrounds for exercise. I see this as being due in part to the a large number of Americans who’ve fallen prey to the Spectator Epidemic. Meaning, they tend to be passive observers about exercise which is a big problem in our culture. In this video of Chinese seniors, you’ll see that their culture is completely supportive of adults exercising in parks.

So I’m even more appreciative of parks that cater to adults who want to work out. When you consider that obesity rates in America are among the highest in the world, with two out of every three Americans being obese or overweight, it’s quite obvious that we have an exercise shortage in our country. According to Wikipedia:

Obesity has led to over 120,000 preventable deaths each year in the United States. An obese person in America is likely to incur $1,497 more in medical expenses annually. Approximately $190 billion is spent in added medical expenses per year within the United States. Obesity is a preventable condition that has been increasing within the United States. Health authorities anticipate no change to this vector.

What is needed in order to bring about this change is a shift to the public’s perception about integrating exercise with lifestyle. Television is the primary obstacle, as it breeds passivity and creates a mind-body disconnect. It also prevents many people from perceiving their homes as viable places for exercise.

A good starting point in beginning the process of lifestyle rehabilitation is to use your local park for routine exercise. It’s free and easy to access (for the most part). By doing this you’re helping yourself as well as helping to shift the collective consciousness.

Want to learn more about developing your own park gym routine? Book a FREE no-obligation consultation today.

Superhuman Healthcare

Avi Ginsberg acupuncturist and holistic healthcare practitionerThe roulette wheel of life delivers the occasional hard knock to us all, and as luck would have it I got hit with a serious viral infection. We’re talking about the kind of sickness that will put most people in the hospital where they’ll be given antibiotics and possibly surgery. It was REALLY bad. I’m not quite sure how it happened, except that I might have picked it up on one of my five hour commutes through New York City.

At first I thought it was food poisoning but then I developed a severe radiating pain in the right side of my jaw. I could barely chew my food – eating was painful and exhausting. The icing on the cake was I had just started a ten day housesitting job in Connecticut and had no way to access medical attention.

That was one of the hardest jobs I’ve ever done.

As soon as it was over I went to see Avi Ginsberg. He’s an Oriental medical provider and has been my primary care physician for over ten years. He diagnosed my condition as being an extreme case of “toxic heat” in the stomach channel. Avi proceeded to bombard the virus with remedies for clearing heat and building immunity. The arsenal of therapies that he used to treat me included:

  • Acupuncture
  • Chinese herbs (antibiotics)
  • Cupping therapy
  • Magnets
  • Qi Gong
  • Mung bean pudding
  • Watermelon
  • Daikon radish
  • Peppermint tea
  • Tamarind juice
  • Colloidal silver
  • Vitamin C powder
  • Mouthwashes (salt water, baking soda, peroxide, vinegar, vodka)
  • Raw garlic
  • Alum powder
  • Watermelon frost
  • A mysterious black powder he got in Chinatown
  • Red flower oil
  • Far Infared heat therapy
  • Moxibustion

The beauty of these ancient remedies, folk medicines, and alternative therapies is that they do not deplete the body. 

After a week I was 80% better, and after a month I’d healed completely. By allowing my body to heal through what I call “superhuman healthcare” I am healthier and stronger than I was before I got sick.

I’m sharing this with you because I want to help people understand how powerful and empowering alternative medicine is. It IS possible to heal from extreme viral attacks without toxic pharmaceuticals, surgery, or obscenely expensive medical bills.

Needless to say, I am very, very grateful to Avi for his help and I highly recommend his expertise to all of my friends. He provides Traditional Oriental Physiotherapy, Acupuncture, Dietary and Herbal Therapy, and Exercise Therapy in Grand Junction and Montrose, Colorado. For more information please visit Liberty Health and Wellness