Archive for the ‘Alternative Lifestyle’ Category

In honor of San Luis Obispo’s upcoming Native Plant Week (April  17-23), Spring, and the heaps of pollen swirling on the breeze, Bambu Batu presents the top 8 natural ways to beat allergies this season.

1.  Native honey-  Eating locally farmed honey helps to inoculate the immune system by letting the body get used to very small doses of pollen.  For best results, eat 2-3 spoonfuls of native, unfiltered honey each day for for several months prior to the height of allergy season.  Browse your farmer’s market for some sweet relief!

2.  Neti pot- When your head feels like its been stuffed with enough cotton to soak up the Atlantic, drain your sinuses with a saline solution using a Neti pot.  The little ceramic container helps to flush out nasal passages, relieve pressure, and soothe irritation.  The salt rinse works by allowing the small hairs (cilia) in your sinuses to better remove mucus, bacteria and allergens.  Sure, inserting the spout of what looks vaguely like a magic lamp up your nose may take some getting used to, but its a great alternative to taking medications and leaves your head feeling clean and clear.

3.  Spring cleaning- Give your home a good wipe-down and and allow air to circulate.  Dust is composed of a myriad of elements that can cause coughing, sneezing and inflammation.  Some of these appetizing ingredients  include pet dander, mite feces, molds and fungi.  To curb the growth of irritants, maintain a constant low humidity in living spaces, run fans, and vacuum regularly.  While a little tidying can do a lot of good, be careful not to go too overboard!  Vigorous cleaning may eliminate the small amount of allergens on which our immune systems practice.  Some household chemicals may also increase immune reactions, so play it safe by using “green” or environmentally friendly products that easily biodegrade and contain less caustic substances

4.  Quercetin- This plant-derived compound helps to stabilize cells in the respiratory system that trigger the release of histamines and cause allergy attacks.  Quercetin is commonly found in citrus, tea, onions, apples, parsley, lettuce, onions, and wine and can also be bought in supplement form.  Sufferers should take about 1,000 mg each day between meals and start about six weeks before allergy season reaches full bloom.

5.  Allergy-fighting foods-  Recent studies have shown that people with diets rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, (found in fish, walnuts, flaxseed, grass-fed meats and eggs), were less likely to suffer from allergies.  For decongestion, add spicy foods like horseradish, chili or mustard to meals.

6.  Stinging nettle-  As a natural antihistamine, nettle prevents the immune system from over-reacting to environmental irritants.  You can avoid the pain of touching this common weed and find its freeze-dried extract in capsules at your local health foods store.  This supplement does not cause drowsiness or dry mouth like most proscription medications and 300mg a day should provide relief for several hours.

7.  Butterbur- This European plant derivative has been shown to be as effective in fighting symptoms as cetirizine, the active ingredient in the Zyrtec.  Four doses of 32mg each day should alleviate discomfort.  However, Butterbur is in the same family as ragweed, so those sensitive to these plants should show caution before considering this remedy.

8.  Apple cider vinegar-  Good for more than just salad dressings, 1-3 doses of 1/8 cup of vinegar throughout the day can prevent attacks and keep the itching and watery eyes at bay.  Either dilute the vinegar in 16oz of water to form a tonic, or if you are feeling brave, take a shot from the bottle.  Add a a little local honey to buffer the tangy flavor and boost the allergy fighting power!




Polcum Springs Sanctuary

Want to know how to cultivate mushrooms?  Interested in exploring the hidden nature of water?  Curious as to how permaculture works and what it does?  Care to try your hand at creating woodblock prints, braintanning a buckskin or fermenting your own foods?  If your answer to any of these questions is “yes”, then a seminar at Polcum Springs may be in your future.

Situated on 203 acres within Northern Mendocino County (25 minutes northwest of Laytonville), Polcum Springs is a ridge-to-valley watershed boasting four seasonal creeks, thick forests, open grasslands, and a variety of native plant and animal species.  Focusing on permaculture and community living, the Springs includes a village designed by Bob Theis consisting of a common house, central kitchen and bath house, rainwater storage, garden, pole barn and dining terrace.  Resident cabins dot the property, some close to the village and others nestled deeper into the forest.

In all of its endeavors, Polcum Springs strives to harmonize with its natural surroundings, allow for the land and its limitations to dictate its use, minimize the disturbance of the environment, promote pedestrian-scale design, and use resources efficiently.  They maintain that the simple pleasures of life are the best, and members enjoy preparing meals together, hiking, swimming, stargazing and communing with nature.  All building projects are carefully considered so that they can preserve this relationship with the landscape and those living within it.

In addition to visiting for a class or seminar, those wishing for a longer-term stay may apply for a membership or residency.  Members hold interest in the Springs as a company and manage more of the business end of operations.  Residents (who are also welcome to become members) are involved in the everyday operations of gardening, finishing the construction of the village, and act as a part of a holistic, sustainable community. They live at the site after completing an application and interview process.  Polcum Springs ultimately hopes to become a thriving village of 15-25 people of all ages, personalities and backgrounds. Facilities are also available for rent to the general public with approval from the residents.

Amidst a world full of gadgets, fast-paced work schedules and political discord, it is comforting to know that there are still places where it is possible to reestablish a meaningful connection with nature and one another.  From getting your hands dirty tanning hides and farming, to stretching your body and spirit practicing yoga, Polcum Springs is a retreat from the everyday routine and back to the fundamentals.  For more information about their programs, head up to Mendocino, or just visit them online.

Spring has sprung once again. It’s fast approaching that time of year when less clothing is more desirable and brighter colors attract the eye. Dreamsacks, one of our favorite companies, has now evolved in to Yala, and with that evolution comes some exciting new designs for spring and summer.

Here are my three favorite new goodies that we have in stock now from Yala.

3. What’s old is new again, with a new shade to look upon. The lovely and youthful Clara tunic now comes in a bright and cheerful yet tasteful Raspberry.

2. Who says spring is no time for scarves? You never know when a spring breeze is likely to come ruffle you up and make you regret the decision to wear that tanktop and mini skirt. But wait, thankfully you have your brand new Pashbu Scarf (maybe in that delicious new shade of yellow called Limoncello) with flirty frayed edges. Just light enough for spring, and just enough to keep you warm, just in case.

1. If you like a top that you can wear to your favorite summer outing, or just around the house, then you’ll love the brand new Gathered Samantha Top. With a hip hugging waist and a flatteringly loose mid section, this lovely new work comes in four different colors: Raspberry, Jade, Deep Purple and Black.

There are plenty of new and exciting things to see here at Bambu Batu. Come spring forward with us!

“I’m telling you, THIS is why astrology is a bunch of bs! You’re telling me that all of a sudden, I’m just magically a different sign, all because some yahoo from the mid-west finally realizes that the earth has shifted? I don’t buy….”

Man, he wouldn’t stop. My boyfriend is a serious skeptic about things like astrology. For him to go out on a limb and believe that something he always took with a grain of salt was shifting completely, was asking too much. Apparently, a lot of people have their panties in a grand cross over the issue. It is quite the reflection on how society handles change in general.

But has that change really changed ANYTHING? Sure, the earth tilted a scooch. And now this constellation, Ophioucus (pronounced O-Few-cus), is in big bold bright view. Does that really make you a Taurus now, dear?

Well, even though his response was bull headed and stubborn, no, it doesn’t. To get to the root of this, I called up Dr. Craig Martin, an astrologer based in L.A. He was a funny man, short and to the point. He made it  clear from the beginning that Ophioucus was a bunch of phooey. I asked him why he thought so.

“I’ll tell you why I KNOW so… Astronomy and astrology are different. Astrology is an interpretive art.” One that an astronomer knows little about. As you may already know, the hubbub began when an astronomer named Parke Kunkle (poor bastard) proposed that because of the shift in the earth’s axis, a new astrological sign would come about and shift all of the other signs back to make room.

The point that Dr. Martin was making is that on the whole, astronomers don’t fuddle much in astrology. It’s an art that compromises the credibility of their science in the science community. So, according to Martin, the link between astronomy and astrology is tenuous at best.

He acknowledged the shift in the earth’s axis, but then he also went on to point out that this was something astrologers have known about for a long, long time, and that it’s already been accounted for. It’s called precession, and while it does have an affect on our signs, they knew that already. Duh.

He’s not alone in his conviction either. He has been interviewed by quite a few major media syndicates and publications since the uproar, and when he gave his take to Fox News and the Associated Press, they looked less than shocked. “That’s what everyone has said,” seems to be the overwhelming consensus.

Additionally, he pointed out that in order to make room for the new sign, you have to take time away from the other signs. “There is no way you could move through Leo that quickly… It’s huge.”

I must admit, I was a little bummed about the debunking. My birthday lands right in the middle of what would have been the new sign’s territory. Ophioucus would have been sort of awesome! And I still can’t understand for the life of me why people would be opposed to the change. But hey, if it doesn’t add up, it doesn’t add up.

For further counsel on the matter, I highly recommend getting in touch one of our local astrologers. Harry Farmer is a great person to contact, as well as Barb Heiam-Bjornsen.

Om is where the heart is

Considering the rich foundation of Eastern and esoteric philosophy which underpins both our business model and our way of life, the imagery of Zen, Buddhism and ancient India are virtually inescapable at the House of Bamboo.

Few can overlook the wisdom of our inspirational scrolls imparting the words of timeless teachers like Lao Tzu, Rumi, and the Dalai Lama, as well as Einstein, Mother Teresa and Henry James. But not every Central Coast resident, Central Valley tourist, or Cal Poly engineering student is so intimately familiar with the subtleties of the Tao, the meaning of the Om, or the sound of one hand clapping.

DISCLOSURE: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links. This means that, at no additional cost to you, we will earn a small commission if you click through those links and make a purchase. 

Welcome Om

One of the most ubiquitous symbols of Eastern mythology, the Om, appears in tapestries, jewelry, clothing and all manner of yoga accessories. These days most people will recognize it, but not everyone can identify it, and even fewer can identify with it. For each person who asks, there’s surely a dozen more who wonder, “What is the meaning of this symbol?”

Volumes have been written about this sacred syllable, in the ancient Hindu texts as well as by more modern sages and comparative scholars like Joseph Campbell. Traditionally, this humming sound, written as either Aum or Om, is chanted as a mantra before and/or after the reading of holy vedic scriptures or a session of yoga.

Essentially, it is meant to represent the singularity of the cosmos, the single unifying sound of the universe and all its resonation. One might read it to mean the name of god, or even the voice of god (god in the very non-Western sense, that is).

Not unlike the New Testament divinity, however, this single Indian syllable is also divisible into three parts: a-u-m. These three phonemes are variously believed to represent the Hindu Trimurti, the Indian trinity of gods, i.e. Brahma (creator), Vishnu (maintainer) and Shiva (destroyer or transformer); or the three stages of life, i.e. birth, life and death. From this point, the range of interpretation is almost unlimited. Many, for example, believe in a vital fourth element: the silence which follows the a-u-m.

If the association with Indian deities is a little too esoteric, I have an even easier way to think about it. As you slowly chant the a-u-m, open with the A and imagine the first soft, green buds of spring. With the U, think of the lush vibrancy of summer, with all the trees and shrubs in full foliage. As you hum the M, picture the leaves turning and falling with autumn. Finally, take a moment to savor the silence, inhaling deeply as you think again of nature’s cycles, the bare branches of winter, the landscape blanketed with pure, white snow.

[Shop for Buddhist Thangka Paintings at AMAZON]

The way I see it, the four elements of the a-u-m, including the closing silence, correspond perfectly with the four seasons of nature. As I chant softly and focus my mind on the changing of seasons, I find myself drifting into a peaceful state of meditation, at one with nature, and one with all things.

Invoked in conjunction with prayer, yoga or meditation, the sacred Om syllable has a phenomenal capacity to elevate the practitioner’s state of consciousness, to transcend the world of the mundane and material, to open new doors of spiritual awakening, and enter the depths of the universal mind.

So clear a little floor space or find a nice patch of grass and try for yourself. Who says you can’t go Om again?

For more pearls of wisdom from the eastern traditions, be sure check out our articles on the Meaning of the Mandala, The Ten Thousand Things of Taoism and Bamboo Symbolism in Myth and Folklore.

DISCLOSURE: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links. This means that, at no additional cost to you, we will earn a small commission if you click through those links and make a purchase. This helps us meet the cost of maintaining our website and producing great articles.

Song of the Day: Donovan’s “There is a Mountain”