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I love playing with numbers. I often catch myself noticing when I spot 11:11 on my many out-of-sync digital clocks. I wrote a post about it awhile back.

5 is one of my favorite numbers and I tend to lean toward it. If I’m making a list and only have 4, I try to come up with one more. If I’m choosing, I will often pick 5.

I’ve found that 5 has lots of significance. (Though I suspect whatever number I would’ve chosen could have produced some results in my searching.) The number 5, however, figures prominently in many religions. There are 5 Pillars of Islam and Muslims pray to Allah 5 times a day. That sounds very practical to me as it would cover the day well.

Christianity, too, speaks of my number 5. It represent the Grace of God. People were transformed with Grace when God added 5 to their names. Much of the Bible is set up in 5s, including two sets for the Commandments. The Old Testament contains 5 books, Matthew had 5 books, 5 narratives, 5 discourses. Even Jesus bled from 5 places.

There are, as well, 5 Sacred Symbols in Sikh. In the East Asian religions there is much talk of the 5 Elements, Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. These elements come up in the moving arts like Tai Chi.

I believe my favoring of the number came from the Japanese. In Japan, in the Edo period, they built 5 Temples to protect their new capital city of Tokyo. (So far, it’s worked! Even from Godzilla.)

The five senses are revered in Japanese, especially in cooking. From a website called Savory Japan, the author said, “Even though many young Japanese don’t know the origins of the rules, nor can even recite them, the habit is ingrained in the culture to such an extent that it just comes naturally.” Even kids out for an evening of partying, take the number 5 into consideration.

The 5 senses (form and color, sound, smell, taste, and touch) play a huge role in Japanese cooking. The presentation is critical. The right food on the wrong plate can spoil everything. Touch is important down the feel of the utensils used. Sound comes into play for the Japanese. One thing I noticed when I traveled there was that the Japanese are serious about eating. Quiet eating means devoted eating.

From Buddhism comes 5 colors: white, black, red, yellow and green, which has been a tradition in Japan since the 6th century. There are even 5 tastes associated with Japanese cooking. Salt, sweet, sour, bitter and something very Japanese: A concept that means delicious or savory. You prepare food in 5 ways as well: Raw, simmered, fried, steamed, roasted or grilled.

My favorite part is the 5 Attitudes of which I lift directly from the website:
– I reflect on the work that brings this food before me; let me see whence this food comes.
– I reflect on my imperfections, on whether I am deserving of this offering of food.
– Let me hold my mind free from preferences and greed.
– I take this food as an effective medicine to keep my body in good health.
– I accept this food so that I will fulfill my task of enlightenment.

With all this, it’s easy to see that 5 is an auspicious concept in Japanese tradition. The number itself is seen as lucky. Perhaps that’s just a reaction to the unluckiness of 4 and 9. But the word for 5 in Japanese is Go. (I think that’s why I find it so appealing!) The 5 yen coin is considered lucky because of the way the two words sound together forming a word that means “honorably good luck.”

I wish you all go-en!

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Sometimes I have to remind myself that life does not always move in a straight line.  Growth happens in fits and starts.  Just when I think I’ve made some headway, I find myself down on my butt again.  Many times I’m heading in one direction when I see the need to take a sharp left.  Scanning the horizon for something, I find something else coming up from behind me!  When I’m in the midst of a project, a seed I planted in one garden may well blossom in another.

Karma works this way, too.  It’s not always: I do a good deed and get something good back from it.  Very often the rebound Good comes from unexpected quadrants.

Social networking proves this theory as well.  Connecting with someone here can provide a juicy connection from someplace far off.  Those six degrees of separation often bounce in mysterious ways.

All of this shifting and twisting can leave me feeling a bit unsteady.

The trick is, I think, to follow the Japanese proverb which says, “Fall down seven times, get up eight.”  For some of us that may be, fall down 10 times, get up 11.

It’s at times like these I need to remember to be kind to myself.  When I’m determinedly working on something, whether it’s a piece of writing, a job search or personal growth, there will be slip ups and times I feel like nothing’s moving.  I need to just stay with it and keep going. Pick myself up, dust myself off, tend to any wounds, give myself a pat on the back and take another step.

Progress does not always move in a neat, tidy or clear line.

InuYasha is a wonderful Japanese animated series from the late 90’s.  It is one of my favorites of the genre.  I always enjoy stories with a band of interesting characters on a quest.  Add some history and maybe a little romance (or sexual tension) and I’m hooked.  Sprinkle in some positive messages and I am a lifelong fan.  I don’t believe it’s unusual, in Eastern cultures, to infuse even animated TV shows with a message or two.  But being a Western girl, I do not hold such high expectations.

As the story of InuYasha goes, in Feudal Japan, there’s a fight over a sacred jewel.  In the battle, the jewel is shattered and chards strewn all over the country.  It is our hero’s mission to find and repair the sacred jewel.

InuYasha is a sort of boy/dog, half demon, half human.  Kagome, his main partner and sometimes love interest, is a school girl from the present day who fell down the well in her grandfather’s shrine and ended up in the middle of all this.  She seems to be the future incarnation of the girl that InuYasha once loved and then battled for the jewel.  Kagome must return now and then for exams or celebrations with her family. Along the way they gather others to help them.  A beautiful woman who is a very capable demon slayer, with an adorable cat who can grow large enough to carry several people on her back and fly them wherever they need to go.  Then there’s the lecherous monk who is always asking women to have his baby.  He often fights with blessings and has a hole in his hand which can suck in everything in his path as if it were the eye of a hurricane.  There’s also a very young demon who can change himself into all kinds of shapes.

But the heart of it is the jewel chards.  Even a sliver can give the person amazing powers.  A forest demon they meet along the way (who fancies Kagome) has a small piece in his leg and it allows him to run super fast.

What I draw from this is that in everything is a chard of the sacred jewel that is special and magical.  Going through life with this idea we can see through even negative experiences to the jewel chard within.  What is the lesson?  What is glittering in the center?

True with people, too.  What if everyone had a shard of the jewel in them?  Can you find that good within them? Discover the jewel chard in everything that happens and you will soon be giving thanks for it all!

Sometimes I have to remind myself that life does not always move in a straight line.  Growth happens in fits and starts.  Just when I think I’ve made some headway, I find myself down on my butt again.  Many times I’m heading in one direction when I see the need to take a sharp left.  Scanning the horizon for something, I find it coming up from behind me!  When I’m in the midst of a project, a seed I plant in one garden may well blossom in another.

Karma works this way, too.  It’s not always I do a good deed and get something good back from it.  Very often the rebound Good comes from unexpected quadrants.

Social networking proves this theory as well.  Connecting with someone here can provide a juicy connection from someplace far off.  Those six degrees of separation often bounce in mysterious ways!

All of this shifting and twisting can leave me feeling a bit unsteady.

The trick is, I think, to follow the Japanese proverb which says, “Fall down seven times, get up eight.”  For some of us that may be, fall down 10 times, get up 11.

It’s at times like these I also need to remember to be kind to myself.  When I’m determinedly working on something, whether it’s a piece of writing, a job search or personal growth, there will be slip ups and times I feel stuck.  I need to just stay with it and keep going. Pick myself up, dust myself off, tend to any wounds, give myself a pat on the back and take another step. 

Progress does not always move in a neat and tidy line.

I’ve been working hard lately and needed this ~

Drinking tea can be a positive spiritual lesson.  Women often get together, over tea, to talk and laugh. The Japanese have elevated their tea ceremonies to an art.  There are those who claim to be able to read tea leaves. This simple act can be quite profound.

There is a process to making a good cup of tea. First, you must begin with fresh water. Re-boiling just isn’t allowed. As we begin each day anew. Let the water come to a full, rolling boil. This reminds us to live life fully. You must stay very aware when dealing with hot water. It calls for paying attention to what you pour it over, as well. Black tea reacts well to the full boil. But green teas and herb teas can’t handle it. There is an old saying about bringing the cup to the kettle or the kettle to the cup.  I just wait until the boil has calmed down before pouring it over the more delicate leaves. Reminding me to not jump headlong into things. Next there is a time for the tea to steep and infuse into the water. Patience is expected. Most recommendations say between 3 and 5 minutes.  So I just go with 4. This is far more crucial with black and green teas.  But even with the herbs, you need to wait for it to cool.  And I am of the belief you can wring out all the flavor and just have a wet tea bag.  So, I suggest withdrawing even the herb tea leaves at the end of the 4 minutes. A simple process with just a few rules, easily learned.   And you can enjoy a perfect cup of tea!   Could we look at life, too, as a simple process with just a few rules?

There are endless varieties of teas within the black, green, white and herb categories.  You can flavor with sugar, lemon, milk or honey. There is a cornucopia of choices in the world, and we can sweeten life however we like.

I like the etiquette and process involved in making tea.  It makes me feel part of something ancient.  But the real essence is in the enjoying. Tea should be sipped, slowly, not gulped.  It’s not about raising your caffeine levels and waking up.  It’s about slowing down.  Taking a break.  Savoring the flavor of the tea and the present moment. It might be seen as a kind of meditation, focusing on the cup, how it feels in your hand, resting on your lip.  The tea, at the right temperature, fills your senses and warms you all the way down. Feel its magical powers revive you, restore you. Revel in the present moment essence of tea drinking.

 

Spring is a time for renewal. For well-being, try starting a new project Plant a fresh bed of flowers, take up a new hobby, paint a picture, take a class, throw a pot. Sometimes we get stuck in the same old ruts. Start anew for the Springtime! Fresh enthusiasm might carry you through to completion.

Many health practitioners recommend tonics to wash away the winter blues. Try some Stinging Nettles. Cook up some Dandelion Greens. Greens are full of nutrients. Have some elderberry wine. How about a Sarsaparilla to shake things up!

Spring is a time for bringing out the lighter, brighter clothes for warmer weather. There’s a feeling of excitement, anticipating the fun to come.

Cleaning is a time-honored tradition in the Spring. I’m not always up for a full-fledged, drag-everything-out clean. I like to hose down the fans, clean the car, or get rid of some things I don’t need. Any little bit will chase out the doldrums. Opening the windows can wipe the house clean without having to do a thing. I often wash the blankets before putting them up for the summer. While I’m at it, some new pillows or sheets freshen my attitude.

There is a connectedness in marking the changing of the seasons. Other cultures make a bigger fuss of it than we do. The Japanese have many festivals in Spring. Some for the crops, some for cleansing. In China they celebrate the Spring, as they do in Mexico. It’s important for well-being to feel a part of something.

Nature is a powerful force and it pays to honor it in whatever way you can.

Shiatsu is an ancient Japanese massage. Shiatsu means finger pressure and that’s exactly what it is. Unlike the open palm, more forceful massage techniques, Shiatsu practitioners use the fingertips to apply pressure. There are no oils used because it’s not about moving across the skin. The patient remains clothed (though preferably in comfortable clothes.) The theory is based on the Chinese meridians that run through the body, linking the organs, skin, flesh, muscles and bones. It works on the principle that the person is well, then massages the individual organs to bring them into balance. If one organ is working harder than it should, another may not be working hard enough. The flow of energy through the body is unblocked by the gentle manipulating of the meridian points on the skin. Shiatsu not only balances energy, but also emotions, releasing toxins and tension. After a session you are likely to feel energetic and calm, maybe lighter. A wonderful experience!

 

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