Fed Up With Dry Skin?

Ideally, your skin should retain a moisture level of around 30%.

When hydration falls, the skin starts to feel dry and itchy, and the normal process of skin cell shedding is reduced so skin cells build up. By the time skin feels rough, dry, and develops scaling, the water level in your skin may be as low as 10%.

This can result from environmental factors such as exposure to harsh soaps, irritants or adverse weather, but can also be due to a lack of dietary essential fatty acids and vitamin A deficiency.

Foods that can help

Omega-3s provide building blocks for making skin cell membranes that retain moisture more readily. They also suppress the inflammatory response that leads to itching and reduced skin cell shedding. Aim to eat oily fish like sardines, salmon, tuna, mackerel or herring at least twice a week. Walnuts, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, chia and hemp are also good sources. Higher intakes of foods rich in vitamin C such as berries and mango, are associated with better skin appearance due to improved collagen production and moisture retention. Wheat germ oil is particularly valuable for treating dry skin – apply topically to leave it feeling soft and smooth.

Foods to avoid

Follow a low glycaemic diet by avoiding refined grains such as white rice, white flour breads, pasta and cakes, which raise insulin levels and promote inflammation.

Useful Supplements

Evening primrose oil provides essential fatty acids that moisturise skin when taken by mouth, producing significant improvements in scaliness and itching. You can also apply evening primrose oil directly onto patches of dry skin.

Wake Early To Enjoy The Dawn Chorus

The dawn chorus reaches it’s peak around this time of year.

Every morning from March to July, the finest sopranos, tenors and baritones warm up their voices for the greatest concert on earth.

As breeding season gets underway, birds will sing at their best and with some practice you can learn to identify the dawn chorus singers. Dunnocks and robins are among the earliest to start singing about an hour before sunrise.

Then blackbirds and song thrushes join in as the ground warms and worms become more active. Finally, contributing to the crescendo, wrens, tits and warblers come in, with the tiny call of the goldcrest on stage too. These later arrivals to the choral scene eat insects and are perhaps more sensitive to the coldness of dawn

Be awakened

Don’t be lazy. We have been lazy and ignorant for millions of years, and we are now lucky to hear the bell of Buddha.

Meditate all day and night while lying, sitting, standing and walking. Always be awakened and mindful. That is the message from Zen Master Vien Hoc. But how can the lazy body be conquered? It is a hard work, and only you can do it to save yourself. You should observe your body carefully. Eat healthy, eat little. Work and exercise everyday.

Always remember that the law of impermanence is drifting us swiftly all day and night, and we have very little time in this life to practice Buddha Dharma to reach the shore. So don’t be lazy.

That doesn’t mean that you have to punish your body. The body is a raft, a vehicle; you have to take good care of it for a really hard trip.

Observe all your bodily movement; that’s a part of meditation. In a certain way, this kind of meditation might have originated some forms of martial arts. Also, you can have your own style Tai Chi Chuan for fun while meditating.

Try this: breath in and out gently, move your right hand very slowly in any way you want while you observe and feel all the bodily movements. Then, with both hands. Then, with eyes open, stand up and move gently while you observe and feel all the bodily movements. It is so much fun for the children to practice their own style Tai Chi Chuan while meditating.

Ask them to try it around five minutes a day. The practitioner would some time see that the mind and body become one.

Like an Echo

Live yourself a simple life.

Only the morality is your duty. If you want to say the good words, just insistingly tell others one saying: When you see there is no self and others, the dust stops blowing; Day and night, up and down, there is no form to settle; Like a reflection, like an echo, there is no trace to point out.

All things are playing in your mind. But when you look around and you can not see the mind. You can not say there is no mind, because the consciousness arises and vanishes. You can not say there is something called mind, because there is no trace of it. Thoughts come and go just like illusions.

Now try this: Keep silent for a day, or even one hour, and feel the environment around. You would feel that all the sounds you hear are not the normal sounds anymore; you feel that they are all echoes in your mind.

The Mind of Emptiness

Life is too short. If you attain the mind of emptiness and formlessness, you will be free from the world of coming and going.

You can feel the frailness of your body now, even when you are healthy and strong. Try this: breathe in and out, gently and naturally; feel the breathing in and out; feel your whole body breathing; feel your whole body becoming one with the breath. Then you will see that your breath is so fragile and your body is so vulnerable.

The more you experience the bliss from meditation, the more you feel sorrowful for the plight of humankind.
Recalling the Buddha’s words saying that we have born and died countless times, you will feel grateful to countless parents, and will see all people around as your dear parents in past lives. Then you will feel your whole body deeply resonate with the Zen vow to save all sentient beings. How can we save others if we are not free yet?

Zen master Vien Chieu said that learners must attain the mind of emptiness and formlessness. Indeed, you will see that the mind essence is empty and formless. So all things in the world appear and disappear in the mind just like the clouds formed and dissolved in the sky, just like the images emerged and vanished in a mirror.

So all the forms you see, all the sounds your hear, all the odors you smell, all the flavors you taste, all the senses you feel, all the thoughts you have are changing swiftly. So nothing has a self. So all things come and go, governed by the principle of dependent arising. Realizing the mind essence will free you from the world of coming and going.

The Present

The present is not the past; the past is not the present.

That means past thoughts vanished and the present thought is not the previous thought. That means every act in past lives and now has its own merit. That means the good deed now is not the bad act done before. That means the breath now is not the breath earlier, and the breath felt previously was not the breath sensed presently.

Live with the present. Every act has its own merit, so you should not worry about the past. Just sit with eyes half open, feel your breath now, feel your body breathing now, feel your thought now arising and vanishing. Can you see this interval: while the previous thought vanished and the next thought does not arise yet?

Try to gently stare that interval for all times in a day, or in two days, even when you are lying, sitting, standing and walking. Later, you can use this stare to cut off all wandering thoughts.

Emptiness

Just look at your body, your feelings, your thoughts; they were changing swiftly since the day you were born.

So you have had millions of bodies; millions of feelings, millions of thoughts – which one is your true body, true feeling, true thought? Your body, your feelings, your thoughts can manifest as millions of forms, because forms are indeed emptiness just like illusions appearing in the mirror. If you cling to anything as form or emptiness, you are chasing the illusions.

Then look at the day before yesterday. Do you feel just like millions of lives away? Are those dreams? Think nothing, just observe. Just be alert, feel the breath, observe the body breathing. And feel the life and death flowing swiftly, endlessly in your whole body.

The Treasure

Living in the world, happy with the Way, you should let all things take their course. When hungry, just eat; when tired, just sleep. The treasure is in your house; do not search any more. Face the scenes, and have no thoughts; then you do not need to ask for Zen.

Live with the water, not with the waves rising and falling; live with the nature of mirror to reflect, not with the images appearing and disappearing; and live with the essence of the mind, not with the thoughts arising and vanishing. When you see the essence of the mind, then you catch a glimpse of Nirvana – the state of unborn, uncreated, unconditioned peace.

After that moment, you know how to live with the mind unmoved while walking, standing, lying, and sitting. How can you see the essence of the mind? Please, remember: You are never away from it, just like the water holds all the waves and is never away from the waves, just like the emptiness of the mirror hold all the images and is never away from the images.

The essence of the mind is non-self, so it manifest as a great magician: your mind has no form, so it takes all forms you see as its forms; your mind has no color, so it takes all colors you see as its colors…Now look out the window, when you see a bird, your mind now has the form of a bird; and when the bird flies, your mind flies too. Your mind is all things you see, all things you hear, all things you feel; the observer is all things observed.

The Spring

When spring goes, all flowers die. When spring comes, all flowers smile. Before the eyes, all things flow endlessly. Over the head, old age comes already. Do not say that with the spring gone, all flowers fall. Last night, in the front yard, a branch of mai flower.

Mai is a kind of flower that blossom in springtime in Vietnam. Notice the contrast between the first and last line; also the last line of the poem is fragment sentence, without a verb, showing the state of unborn, unmoving, undying.

While the stream manifests as endless waves rising and falling, the nature of water stays unmoved, uncreated. Now look at your mind, and see thoughts coming and going, arising and vanishing. The mind is just like a mirror that shows you the images of all things reflected.

All images come and go, but the reflectivity is still there, unmoving, undying. Now, listen to the sound of two hands clapping, then listen to the sound of one hand clapping. Do you hear the soundless? The sound comes and goes, but the nature of hearing ability is still there even in your sleep, unchanging, unmoving, undying.

Watchful

Watch yourself everyday, constantly. Watch yourself, be mindful, be alert. In this dream world, do not search for Dharma counselor; Watch yourself, and see the Buddha’s face on your face.

Watch yourself, and see you are impermanent, no-self. Watch yourself, and see whether you are living in a dream. You are changing swiftly, endlessly. Yesterday, you had millions of different bodies, millions of different feelings, millions of different thoughts – just like a stream flowing swiftly.

Look back and see all those bodies, feelings, and thoughts just like dreams, like echoes, like mirages. Then look at the day before yesterday. Do you feel just like millions of lives away? Are those dreams? Think nothing, just observe.

Just be alert, feel the breath, observe the body breathing. And feel the life and death flowing swiftly, endlessly in your whole body.