Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Introduction to Yoga

Yoga is a physical and mental discipline which uses techniques of breathing, exercise, and meditation. It originated from India and is mostly associated with meditative practices in Buddhism and Hinduism.

Yoga, which means "union" in Sanskrit, aims to unite the mind, body, and spirit. Its ultimate goal is to reach "self realization" and "enlightenment" - or a state of "eternal bliss".

The practice of yoga has numerous benefits on both our mental and physical health. Constant practice of yoga improves posture, flexibility, balance, strength, muscle tone, and endurance. It is known to reduce stress and other mental worries. Yoga also helps clear the mind and promotes calmness and a positive outlook in life. Other benefits include prevention or cure of problems such as constipation or even cancer.

Balance and unity of the mind and body is achieved through the practice of physical postures or "asanas", purification practices, controlled breathing, and the calming of the mind through relaxation and meditation.

The combination of asanas and controlled deep-breathing techniques prepares the mind for a much contemplative state which is recommended for meditation.

Through deep-breathing exercises we increase the oxygenation of our body cells and various organs in our body. Purification practices in yoga, such as the rolling of the abdominal muscles, are a good way of massaging our internal organs. These practices help improve digestion and relief from constipation.

After the asanas, relaxation poses such as the corpse pose (lying on the floor) or the child's pose help in stabilizing and keeping a settled state of mind. These poses have similar benefits to sleep and have a powerful stabilizing effect on the mind and emotions.

The practice of yoga produces intense internal heat and sweat that detoxifies the body. This results to improved circulation of blood, a stronger body, and a calm mind. Through Yoga, we gain control of our mind and emotions, increase spiritual enlightenment and attain the goal of yoga: seperate ourselves from worldly desires.

Personally, I use Yoga as a form of exercise only. Using the Yoga asanas enables me to have a fitness routine that requires the least metabolism and stress. Compared to many other strenuous exercises, where I exert much more effort, I am able to use low-intensity exercises and benefit from its stress-reducing qualities.

Some people find that the practice of yoga leads to spiritual enlightenment, while others just enjoy it as a low-intensity workout. Find out which is suitable to you and enjoy the benefits of Yoga.

On my next post on yoga, I will be talking about how to perform some yoga postures and how you can benefit from them.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


To help you navigate through the articles I post, I have decided to make a rough Table of Contents and divided them into the different categories or areas which I mentioned on my welcome post.







Monday, June 21, 2010

Stop Procrastinating!

One thing that might hold us from being successful in life is procrastination or the act of delaying an action to a later time. Some reasons why people procrastinate is because of being unorganized, indecisive, self-doubting, and lazy; to a point that it becomes habitual and natural to people's characters.

Personally, as much as I hate it, I am guilty of procrastination. At work, for example, I used to delay my work to a point where I had to rush my project just to meet the deadline. Fortunately, I have been able to improve on this by following some simple guidelines.

Dont just plan. Act on it!
Planning is important in achieving goals. But without putting these plans into actions, they become useless. Too much planning is time-consuming and is not necessary since plans may still change along the way.

Don't be a perfectionist
There is no such thing as perfection. Trying to come up with a perfect plan or project will only take you so much time before you actually get to finish it.

Plan small then take action
Accomplishing big goals can be really frustrating because it takes lots of effort to achieve those goals. The solution for accomplishing these big goals is to set small realistic goals out of them. This makes it much easier to accomplish. Be persistent in acting on these small goals and eventually your big goal gets accomplished one step at a time.

Face your fear
"Fear is what makes us brave. Real courage is when you overcome your fear". - Getafix (character from Asterix)

One of the reasons why people procrastinate is because they don't want to overcome their fears. This limits their mind into thinking they can't do the task or that something negative might happen to them.

To get rid of your fear, you have to accept that somewhere along the way, we all get rejected or fail in some form. Don't get discouraged by this, take this as a lesson that is bound to happen because of our lack of knowledge and experience.

Don't be lazy
One of the main reasons that people procrastinate is because they are lazy. Getting rid of laziness is difficult, but can be done by having the right mind set and finding more motivations in life.

Limiting beliefs
Thinking of things like "I can't do this" or "I can't do that" will definitely keep your tasks left behind. When we limit what our mind can think, we also limit ourselves in what we can achieve.

Stay away from distractions
Distractions like watching television and surfing the internet should be done after you are finished with the more important tasks that you have. Treat television and the internet like a reward which you can get to do after you are done with your priorities.

Keep a schedule
It's sure that you have more than one thing to be working on. In order not to focus on one task and procrastinate on the rest, it is important that you divide your time in all these tasks. Give more time in more important goals, but don't forget about other less important tasks to work on.

Do what you love doing
If you do what you love doing, there is little chance that you would want to delay on that goal. If you are inspired and motivated in doing a particular task, finishing the goal becomes easier to accomplish. This might be a reason why many great people don't do great in fields that they really do not love.

These are just some guidelines that might help you stop procrastination. Somehow these guidelines have helped me, and I hope they can help you too. Good Day!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Lectio Divina

I have been introduced to the practice of Buddhist meditation for almost a year now. All I can say is that it is really effective. It reduces stress, improves my sleep, makes me feel better, and generally makes me happier and have a positive outlook in life. One thing that somehow bothered me was that, Buddhist meditation had contradicting ideas in what I believed in - belief in God. Belief in God was something that Buddhism does not give emphasis on. Because of this, I Google searched on Christian ways of meditation. Eventually, I came across "Lectio Divina" - a Christian practice which leads to a deeper knowledge of oneself, and at the same time, scripture, others and God.

Lectio Divina, Latin for "divine reading", is a Christian practice of scriptural reading, prayer, meditation, and contemplation. It is performed by reading certain passages or chapters from the bible and reflecting on its message and meaning.

Lectio Divina progresses from Bible reading, to meditation, to prayer, and then to contemplation. In Latin, these are lectio, meditatio, oratio, and contemplatio respectively.

Lectio Divina is practiced daily for an hour or may be practiced by dividing it into two smaller periods, one after waking up and one before sleeping. It is recommended that a specific time is set so that it easily becomes a daily habit. A quiet time and place should also be considered so that distractions may be avoided.

How to perform Lectio Divina


Before starting the Lectio, it is recommended to be in a relaxed and contemplative state of mind. To do this, get yourself in a comfortable position, either sitting on a chair, kneeling down, or sitting on a cross-legged position, and take a few deep long breaths. Keep your eyes closed; stay relaxed and silent for a few minutes. Start with a prayer asking for God's guidance throughout the Lectio.

Bible Reading

Start by, choosing a particular passage, verse, or chapter that you wish to read from the bible. The bible passage may be of your choice or may come from readings from the daily Eucharistic liturgy. Read the text slowly and attentively, focusing and understanding each line and phrase carefully. Write down notes or lines from the passage that may have an impact to you. You may read the bible passage several times until the meaning of the text is clear and better understood.


If you have memorized or taken down notes, take those words or phrases from the text and meditate on it. Try to understand the essence and meaning of God's message. Meditate on the text and imagine God speaking and giving the message to you.


After meditating on the reading, a prayer is then made as a response. This prayer is our conversation with God - a loving dialogue with the one who has created us and loves us. During the prayer, ask God's guidance in helping us accept and apply the message that we have meditated on so that we may change our selves and become the person whom he wants us to be.


Finally, contemplate by sitting quietly, letting your thoughts drift away, and feeling God's presence and love, for at least ten minutes. The Christian practice called "centering prayer", similar to the meditation practices by Buddhists, can also be done. The purpose of centering prayer is to focus on the inner presence of God by simply clearing the mind of rational thoughts. To do this, choose a sacred word such as "God" and focus on it. Whenever your mind becomes aware of any other thoughts, simply return to that sacred word. With constant practice, freeing your mind from any distractions becomes easier.

Lectio Divina is an intimate talk with God, where reading and meditating is like hearing what God is trying to say to us. Our response is then made through our prayer. Finally, accepting God's love and presence through contemplation.

Use Lectio Divina as a way of learning about God's word, so that we gain better knowledge of ourselves, others, and God. Also, just like the Buddhist practices of meditation, we become happier and more enlightened individuals.

- Steve's Zushi -

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Lose Weight! Eat More!

For those who want to lose weight, but can't control their appetite, maybe this would help. Reducing the amount of food that you eat won't be effective at all. Choosing the right food, eating more frequently and in moderate amounts will. The right foods help in increasing your metabolism and in turn burns calories and fats faster.

The following is a list of foods that can help you lose weight and be healthier:

  • Steak - Protein-rich food such as steak helps you retain muscle mass. It contains proteins which our body absorbs and utilizes for growth. In order to burn enough calories and lose weight, it is important to keep our metabolism high enough by maintaining our levels of lean muscle mass.
  • Eggs - Eggs are protein-rich foods that can help build muscle and reduce weight. Eggs are also more filling than other food, making us eat lesser amounts later on. They also contain higher quality proteins than proteins found in meat, milk, or fish. One problem with eggs is that many people think they have too much cholesterol. However, recent researches have been made saying that eating eggs don't contribute much cholesterol to our body.
  • Oats - Oats are good for losing weight because they are one of the most filling foods, they digest slowly, and unlike other carbohydrates, they have little impact on blood sugar. For a more filling type of oats, you may try the steel-cut and rolled oats since they contain more fibers per serving. The fiber in oats also prevents fat and cholesterol from being absorbed by our body.
  • Fish - Fish is a good source of proteins, making it good food for building muscle mass. It also keeps our heart healthy and reduces fat. The omega-3 fatty acids present in fish is responsible for building and maintaining muscle, and which is known to help manage heart disease. Salmon and sardines are a great source of proteins and omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Apples - Apples are good for preventing heart disease, good for weight loss, and controlling cholesterol. The amount of fiber in apples makes them very filling. These fibers are responsible for reducing cholesterol by preventing reabsorption. The antioxidants they contain help prevent the risk of developing heart disease and other cancers such as colon cancer and prostate cancer.
  • Chili - Spicy food naturally speeds up our metabolism. A compound found in chilis, called capsaicin, raises our body's temperature and helps make our body burn calories at a faster rate. Use chilis in many of your meals to increase your metabolism and reduce weight faster.
  • Yogurt - Plain yogurts are considered by dietitians as a perfect food. This is because yogurts have as much potassium as a banana, and as much proteins as an egg. Yogurt also contain more calcium than that found in milk. The live bacteria found in yogurt also helps in digestion and protects against other harmful bacteria.
  • Avocado - Avocados are known to have higher amounts of fats than most other fruits. They contain monosaturated fats - the types of fat that are good for your heart and increases satiety. Avocados help lower cholesterol levels, and also known to promote healthy skin and hair. They also have more potassium than bananas.
  • Olive oil - like avocados, olive oil is rich in healthy fats that easily makes us feel fuller. Instead of using vegetable oil in frying food, try substituting it with olive oil, for a much healthier option.
These are just some foods that may help in losing weight.
If you are serious about losing weight but want a wider selection of food to eat, just remember the following guidelines:
  • Eat protein-rich food. The more proteins you eat, the more muscle mass is build. The more muscles, the more calories your body burns. Steak, eggs, and fish are all muscle building foods.
  • Eat fibrous food. Fibrous food like oatmeal and apples are more filling and prevent the body from absorbing fats and cholesterols. All fruits and vegetables may also be categorized as fibrous foods, plus, they contain lots of nutrients.
  • Not all fats are harmful to your health. The ones which are not are mono saturated fats, the rest add up to your waist. If you are eating fried food, use olive oil instead.
  • Eat more frequently. If you eat three times a day, change it to five times a day, in moderate amounts. This will help speed up your metabolism more.
Happy eating!

- Steve's Zushi -

Saturday, June 12, 2010

How to make Maki Sushi

If you may have noticed my pen name, you may have thought that I am an avid fan of Japanese food. If you guessed that I am, then you have guessed right. I love Japanese food, and maki sushi being one of them.

Makizushi is a type of sushi which is rolled and wrapped in nori and often made with two or three fillings.

My constant craving for maki sushi easily drains my wallet and eventually made me search for recipes on how to make them. If you are like me, who loves sushi and loves to experiment, then this sushi-making-guide might be of help.

Before making the maki sushi, you will need the ff:
  • Nori - This is the toasted paper-like seaweed used in most kinds of sushi. It is wrapped around and holds the sushi roll together. Nori sheets are nutritious and add a unique flavor to the sushi roll. These can be bought in packs of 10s or 50s and can be found in most Asian grocery stores. For home use, it is advisable to buy the ones which are in packs of 10s, since nori sheets are best when they are stored dry.
  • Sushi rice - Although most kinds of rice can be used in making sushi, sushi rice, or sushi-meshi, is most recommended because of its stickiness. Its stickiness helps in keeping the sushi roll together. To prepare sushi rice, wash and cook the rice just like you would do to any normal rice. The only difference is that, after cooking, the rice should be seasoned with rice vinegar, salt, sugar, and some like adding in sake. For the seasoning, mix a half cup of rice vinegar, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and 2 teaspoons of salt, in a pan on medium heat, until all solids are dissolved. Pour this mixture on 3 cups of rice and stir well. Let the sushi rice cool down until it is ready for your sushi roll.
  • Filling - Use crabsticks, fish, prawns and vegetable slices of your choice as the filling in your maki sushi. For vegetables, you may try carrots, cucumber, asparagus, etc. Try to cut these into long thin strips so that it will be easier in filling the sushi roll.
  • Sushi rolling mat - This is a small mat made of bamboo which is used to roll and squeeze maki sushi into tight rolls.
  • Wasabi - Wasabi, or Japanese horseradish, is a spice used particularly in Japanese food. It is served by either mixing it with soy sauce, or eaten directly by placing it on the sushi. Personally, I like mixing it with soy sauce and a few drops of lemon. Wasabi can be bought from Asian supermarkets, either as a ready-to-use paste or as powdered form. Powdered wasabi is better since you may be able to make your own fresh wasabi depending on your preferred consistency. Making wasabi from powdered form is easy. The powder is just mixed with water until it turns into a paste. Remember to eat a fair amount of wasabi at a time, for it can get really really hot and spicy!
  • A small amount of patience - since making sushi isn't all that difficult, just a small amount of patience is required :D

Now, for the maki sushi,
  1. Start off by placing the rolling mat on the table.
  2. Place the nori on top of the rolling mat, making sure that the nori is placed with its rough side facing up.
  3. Place a handful of sushi rice in the middle of the nori sheet. Spread the rice evenly on the nori sheet, creating a thin layer of rice. Leave about an inch at the end side of the nori sheet without rice. This side will be used later on for closing the sushi roll.
  4. As a filling, place the slices of fish, crabsticks, prawns or vegetables along the edge of the sushi. For vegetables, you may try carrots, cucumber, asparagus, etc. Fruits such as avocado and mangos may also be used. Use your imagination on this one.
  5. Using the rolling mat, carefully enclose and tighten the filling. Continue by rolling along the length of the nori and gently applying pressure to keep the sushi roll tight. Roll the nori sheet until you reach the empty space of the nori sheet.
  6. Use the empty space of the nori sheet to close the sushi roll properly.
  7. Use a sharp knife and cut the sushi roll into little sushi rolls.
  8. Serve with your favorite Wasabi.

Enjoy your Maki sushi! :D

- Steve's Zushi -

Monday, June 7, 2010

Welcome to my Travel Guide to Life!

Life is a journey - a journey which consists of many destinations or goals that we set to accomplish. Goals that when achieved make us happy and fulfilled. But can these achievements make us permanently happy?

Welcome to my travel guide! This travel guide is not the ordinary travel guide that you might expect. It is not merely a travel guide to beautiful tourist spots in the world, but a travel guide to our journey throughout life. It is a guide on how to look at life as a journey and not a destination. How to enjoy life throughout the journey and not only when goals are accomplished.

It aims to guide people how to reach one's goals in life, while at the same time being happy, satisfied, & contented. To do this, one must not only be ourselves, but our BEST selves.

The following is a list of categories that may contribute to one's happiness. In order to be truly happy, one must be fulfilled and satisfied in all these aspects of life:
  • Spiritual - One of the most important things that make us truly happy is through enriching our spirituality . Whether we are Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Atheists, or from any religion, we should give some time, everyday, for enriching our spirits. Through spiritual practices such as prayer, meditation, and contemplation, we enable ourselves to discover the essence of our being, and experience our life being connected with a larger reality.
  • Health - Being physically fit is one key to happiness in life. It keeps us healthy, reduces stress, boosts our confidence, and makes us energetic and happy. It is also a great way to get in shape, and improve posture and body language, through sports, martial arts, exercises, dance, yoga, etc.
  • Social - Love is the greatest gift of all. It simply makes us happy. Love is felt through interacting and socializing with others - our family, relatives, colleagues, partner, friends, and even enemies.
  • Financial - Though money can't always make people happy, money is important since it is needed to sustain our life. In order to keep us sane, and free of financial worries, we should learn how to work and earn money, how not to work and earn money, and how to get out of the rat race. Learn financial education - it is something that schools don't teach, but definitely is important in our life.
  • Creativity - Whether we are inclined to writing essays, poetry, playing an instrument, making music, cooking, programming, or learning other languages; learning new things, being creative, and developing our brain further is a sure way of making ourselves fulfilled.
  • Relaxation - Playing video games, watching tv, having a massage, sleeping, meditating, or thinking of nothing, can all reduce stress from our daily work. It occupies our minds for the moment and makes us forget things that may worry us.
If every week, we set and accomplish small goals in each of these areas, then slowly we can fulfill our long-term goals, and we become the person we always wanted to be.

It is important that we know what our goals are, and that we balance our time in each of these areas. Long-term goals can be fulfilled by planning, setting, and taking action of our small goals. After acting out small steps, we then slowly realize that we have already accomplished our long-term goal.

This travel guide will have entries that can be categorized in any of the areas listed above. Use it to help you plan and accomplish your goals in any of these areas. Read random entries that interests you and that you think might contribute to your happiness. Hopefully, I would be of help in guiding you in these areas.

Remember to balance and set aside time for enriching your spirit, learning something new, growing your finances, staying fit, socializing, and staying relaxed.

Thank you for visiting my travel guide blog. I hope you have a great time reading my posts as I have in making them. Good luck in living your journey, and may we all find what we are looking for in life! And if ever you get lost along the way, get back on track and remember that what's important is the experience and the lessons that you have learned.

Remember to always live IN the moment. Forget the past, for it can only drag you down. And don't expect the future, for you might get stuck in fantasies.

Good Luck! :D

- Steve's Zushi -