Sunday, November 22, 2015

Temazcal - I found a Zen place while in Mexico

On my recent trip to Mexico something totally unexpected happened. 

I have carried around different burdens on my shoulders for the last forty years and while on vacation had the opportunity to release those burdens in a most unexpected and unusual way.  The area I was visiting was in the Rivera Maya in Mexico.  This area is approximately an hour and half south of Cancun and about twenty miles south of Playa del Carmen.  There is a rich Mayan culture here with many temples and ruins within a short drive.  The Mayan influence is everywhere, in the food, the art work, and most importantly the people who are proud of their heritage. 

I was staying at the Hard Rock Rivera Maya a large sprawling resort with two sides to accommodate everyone.  Hacienda is the family (kids) side of the resort and Heaven is the adult only part of what I jokingly called “the compound”.  When you turn off the main highway there is a large guitar lighted in red and yellow lights in the evening.  You turn into a large gated archway where security checks everyone in and out.

Many days while I was there I tried to take walks around the compound starting from my room to the beach where I could meander my way across the large Hacienda complex and the many connecting swimming pools.  There were sidewalks along the frontage of the ocean which turned inland along the south perimeter across the convention center and then split into several trails which wandered through the jungle.  There were many monkeys playing in the trees in several different areas.  They climbed and were swinging from limb to limb among the trees and you could hear quiet snapping sounds that alerted you to look up and find them playfully going about their day.  There were walks early in the morning just after sunrise and also late afternoon which seemed a more active time for them.

There was a horse stable with three horses which loved the apples I fed them.  One was so excited when he saw the apples that drool was flowing like someone turned on a faucet.  It was funny and he could hardly wait to eat the apple slices out of my hand.  I was covered before I finished and luckily the stable workers took me to a sink to wash off before continuing my walk.  The stables were on the northern edge of the Heaven complex and the trail beside led back to the beach. 

Walking back along the beach from the northernmost part of the resort there is a between two building where there was a large wooded area which had two different parts.  One was a Zen temple with gardens and a small stream.  The other was a beautiful quiet sanctuary in the trees that has pools and small waterfalls which surrounded the Temazcal.  The word Temazcal originates from the Aztec, “calli” meaning house, and “temas” meaning vapor or steam.  One of the weekly activities or spa treatments is Temazcal which is a ceremony inside a small adobe igloo looking structure which uses steam and healing herbs to purify the body and spirit.  Many people would call it a “sweat lodge” where once inside it is sealed in total darkness.

Before the start of the ceremony our Shaman, Raphael sat down with the five of us and gave a history of Temazcal and what to expect during the ritual. We drank herbal tea as Raphael explained the small adobe Temazcal igloo was symbolic of Mother Nature’s womb. Through the use of steam and healing herbs the ceremony purifies the body and the spirit. 

The natural elements and stages brought together in the Temazcal are: 

·    Water – symbolizing blood, fluids and emotions.
·         Earth – the body and physical matter represented by the Temazcal itself. 
·         Air – aromatic steam as our life’s energy and breath. 
·         Fire – the embodiment of the spirit through the volcanic stones.

As we began our individual journeys in this new experience Shaman Raphael took us one at a time, spoke quietly to us then he began the purifying ritual of burning Copal, a sacred Mayan tree resin to cleanse and harmonize the body, mind, and spirit.  We stood arms outstretched as he went around our bodies fanning the smoke on our body, front and back, on our legs and then circling our heads. It has an oddly fresh smell similar to incense but not overpowering.  If we had a specific ailment, then a mixture of herbs would be added to help an individual’s ailment.

We entered the darkness of the hut and sat on mats around the circular inside of the Temazcal.  In the middle of the floor was a pit where shortly the red hot volcanic rocks were placed. Shaman Raphael then took the herbed water and poured it over the glowing rocks creating intense fragrant steam inside the darkness which begins to relax and detoxify the body.  The heat rose to the roof and then rolled back down towards the floor. As in a sauna the sweat started to pour from my body.  My mind wished for a headband to keep the salty perspiration out of my eyes.

Four guided meditations are used focusing on a different cardinal point in life.  During each stage of the ceremony you have the opportunity to reflect on the different phases of your life from childhood, teenage or young adulthood, adulthood, and finally your current and future life as you would like to walk along your path into old age.  The ritual is an opportunity to free ourselves from that which we no longer need in our lives and allows each of us to live wholly in the present an ideal I have tried to live by over the years. As we each said what we wanted and at each stage more glowing red hot rocks were added along with more steam keeping the inside hot and toasty.  We breathed in through our nose and exhaled through our mouths to keep from burning our lungs.      

After the fourth addition of red hot, glowing volcanic rocks along with the water creating steam we spoke of our present or future goals and expectations of our future.  This last time was the hottest time in the Temazcal as Raphael splashed water on everyone in the darkness as he added more water onto the red hot glowing stones. These meditations were accompanied by chanting repeating the Shaman’s words, both in Spanish and in English which loosely meant, “Water is my blood, Earth is my body, Air is my breath, and Fire is my spirit.”  Soaked in perspiration and feeling spent but wonderful in our “womb of Mother Earth” it was time to exit and walk a few steps to a refreshing cenote pool of water to cool ourselves and hydrate our bodies. 

Entering the coolness of the water releasing the heat was an exhilarating feeling.  All of my senses were heightened as I could hear the sounds of birds in the trees overhead and the soft sound of the waterfall a few feet away. I felt like a heavy weight had been removed from my being.  It left me with a sense of inner harmony, enlightenment and rejuvenation and was energized to whatever comes to my life in the future.

I did not expect to find such a Zen feeling or being during this trip so I want to thank one of my friends who invited me on this vacation and knew of this unique and wonderful experience.  If you ever have an opportunity to be in a place to where this is offered I would highly recommend it to anyone.  We all have issues or things that happen in our lives and few opportunities to release those hurts or pains from our consciousness.  Several things I have known and tried to live by but was highlighted during this experience were these:

·         You are responsible for yourself and your actions in this life
·         It is unhealthy to carry the issues of your past around your neck, let them go!
·         You cannot change the past and only needlessly beat yourself up trying to ponder the “shoulda, coulda, woulda” from our past life experiences.
·         The only time that is real in your life is right this minute, the past is gone and the future is not here yet and both do not matter!
·         Life is about choices, those who choose to have a positive day will have more positive life experiences than negative ones.
·         Time is our opportunity clock, do not waste it and let those around you know how much you care and love them.
·         We will all have problems or issues but it is how we choose to deal with them that allows us to have an enjoyable and productive life.


Saturday, November 21, 2015

The music is you . . . Playlist of your life?

For me and many others music makes up the story of our lives. Music is always with us, in our mind, on the radio, in movies, and songs you know by heart that no one can take away from you.  Music is always there to get you through the good and bad times in your life.

Sit back; think about your music for a few moments
Let the music take you where ever it may
and picture your life as a playlist,
and see what your top ten songs would be in the story of your life.

Music makes pictures and often tells stories
All of it magic and all of it true
And all of this pictures and all of the stories
And all of the magic the music is you . . . (John Denver concert opening song)

Here is the story of my life through songs and is my top 10 playlist.

1. Old Friend - Terry Edwards (Cullowhee)
2. One Particular Harbor - Jimmy Buffett
3. Chances - Five for Fighting
4. Walk Away Joe - Trisha Yearwood
5. Somewhere over the rainbow - Israel Kamakawiwo'ole
6. The Pretender - Jackson Browne
7. You and Tequila - Kenny Chesney
8. Toes - Zac Brown Band
9. Someday - Rob Thomas
10. When Innocence Died - Michael Clark (Cullowhee)

What is yours?

The music is you . . .


Sunday, November 15, 2015

I've been a bit of a slacker lately not getting new tires for my car before winter set in so I purchased them yesterday and went to get them installed this morning.  In Alaska it's done a little differently than the Lower 48 where you just go and have them swapped over.  Many people use studded tires here so every fall there is a massive rush to the tire stores at the first sign of snowfall.  I waited so I found myself going to Costco at 6:45 am this morning the temperature was minus 5 degrees to be outside waiting for them to open around 8:30 am.  I was number 5 in line at that time but was prepared.  I had my Margaritaville chair, my thermos of Bailey's coffee, and warm clothing.  The conversations with those there turned out to be quite interesting at that time of the morning waiting for someone to show up. The line grew to over 50 people by the time the doors opened. 

I met several people, mainly the other 4 in front of me and once vehicles were queued one of them, Ramsay and I went across the street to Denny's and had breakfast and talked.  It was very interesting, both veterans, both work in similar fields, and both Southern heritage men. Ramsey was from north central Florida and I from Atlanta Georgia.  We said a blessing at the table before we ate drawing looks from the other customers and as we talked about so many subjects during our breakfast others nearby were drawn to listen to our ramblings seemingly with interest.

Conversations of growing up in the South in the 60's & 70's and the issues of the day, poverty, racism, and raising children, both from being one and how we have passed ideals on to our own over the years.  There was a little talk of our military time buts as most vets know there is not a lot to say other than thanks for the others service to our country.  It was both great and rewarding in the time of fellowship we spent while having our tires changed out.

Sometimes getting up early and doing something can have positive and rewarding results even though the sun would not rise for three or four hours.  It's those little things in life that change us and take on meaning from what we thought the morning would bring.

"I am among all men, most richly blessed" (from A Soldier's Prayer)


Icewind's Ramblings return to Blogging

I've been away for awhile with real life and haven't posted for awhile now.  I almost forgot how to start a new thread and had to create a new email so I could access my dormant account again.

Much has changed within my life but the same outlook on things, encounters with others and taking away a slightly tilted look at things remains the same.  Hopefully I have found my writing voice once again.

If you are not familiar or new to my posts please take a look through my archives for some funny stories and outlooks on life in Alaska and things in general.

Thanks for playing,


Monday, June 24, 2013

Rule # 5 You Don't Waste Good

Rule # 5 You Don't Waste Good

Some of you may know what I am talking about and some may have to look it up but one thing is certain, like Gibbs I live by the cup, all day long.

I have an auto start on my coffee maker and I can always be found with a cup of coffee.  I like my coffee not just as a pick me up but I love the smell and taste of really good coffee.  I credit this to my mother as she gave us "Good to the last Drop" Maxwell House Master Blend growing up and I have always gone to great lengths to find it all of my life.

For many of us we try to learn from our mistakes and life our lives a certain way and in many ways we may or may not have them written down anywhere.  For one of my favorite antagonist there is a set of rules written down and over the years many have been revealed to the followers and fans. 

One of my favorites is Rule # 5 . . . You Don't Waste Good!

Now this can be taken in so many contexts and is open for interpretation for those looking at it but for me it has meaning. 

I'll leave it up to you to find your meaning and if you care to post it that is fine too and while I wait I think I will sit here and drink my coffee . . . which is still "Good to the last Drop!"

Have a nIce Day!

Thursday, June 06, 2013

"Time is NOT on your side."

"Time is NOT on your side."

So said The Rolling Stones only because the National Association of Chronic Procrastinators promised a lucrative sponsorship deal . . . which is still in the works to this very day.

The NACP keeps putting off negotiations for a later date.

Sadly The Rolling Stones are old now gathering moss.

It's a sunny glorious day in Alaska and once again people are out and about walking, bicycling, and enjoying the sunshine.  It is amazing how attitudes change after a long winter's night.

Now comes the good part . . . fishing!


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Memorial Day 2013

Memorial Day 2013

This post is one that struck me when it was first circulated in 2009 by the Anchorage Daily News as an opinion piece ran here:

It still holds meaning for me today and I wanted run it again as I think it captures the essence of this holiday and its true meaning in how it came to be and the fact that life goes on . . .

Our view: Memorial Day

We honor the fallen today with silence and taps and life
Published: May 24th, 2009 04:40 PM
Last Modified: May 24th, 2009 04:48 PM

Chances are that when you opened this page you saw the photograph first, in the same second that you saw the headline.  When you look at it and read the caption, isn't it easy to imagine the grandfather buried beneath that headstone, wherever he is, taking great joy in the grandchildren who visit his grave?

Today we honor the dead who served, from those killed in battle to those who died peacefully decades after their days in uniform.  Flags and flowers mark this day.  Salutes and prayer.  Memories of loved ones.

And moments of silence, wherein we can hear the rustle of wreaths on stone, breath of wind stirring a halyard, bird song.

In the Gettysburg Address, Lincoln said that "we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground.  The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

So it is at any memorial site, whether among the white headstones at Arlington National Cemetery, Fort Richardson or the flag on the Park Strip in downtown Anchorage.

But look again at the photograph.  At their grandfather's grave site, those kids are on the edge of play.  That's not disrespect.  That's life.  That's freedom.

That's the promise that their grandfather and millions of others have kept for the rest of us.

Picture Caption

DARON DEAN / Anchorage Daily News archive 2005
Augustine Hamner, 6, hugs her grandfather’s headstone as her brother John, 2, straightens his flag and mom Grace watches on Memorial Day in 2005 at Fort Richardson National Cemetery. “She knows the reason her granddad is here,” said Robert Hamner, her father. Hamner said just knowing his dad was a good man, who brought him up right makes Memorial Day special to him. Augustine, who had been to the cemetery before, looked at the headstones and asked, “Why are there more?”

America's roll call of the fallen

620,000-- Number of troops killed, counting both Union and Confederate sides, in the Civil War.
405,399 -- Number killed in World War II.
116,516 -- Number killed in World War I.
58,209 -- Number killed in Vietnam War.
54,246 -- Number killed during Korean War.
13,283 -- Number killed during Mexican War.
4,435 -- Number killed in Revolutionary War.
6,648 -- Number killed in Iraq War (Operation Iraqi Freedom) since 2003.
2,446 -- Number killed in Spanish-American War.
2,260 -- Number killed in War of 1812.
2,133 -- Number killed in Afghanistan War (Operation Enduring Freedom) since 2002.
382 -- Number killed in Persian Gulf War.

Sources: US Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, Washington Post, Anchorage Daily News. Note: Numbers for current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as of May 20. List does not include service members killed in smaller military operations, such as Lebanon, Somalia and Panama, who also are remembered today.

God Bless and celebrate the day!


Tuesday, May 21, 2013