Monday, February 25, 2013

Welcoming the Year of the Snake for Well Being

I bought this snake on Canal Street

The parade celebrating the Chinese New Lunar Year of the Water Snake started at 1pm on February 17, a very chilly but sunny day.   Some of the spectators were still leaving the area and headed to the subways on Canal Street when I got there and the clean up efforts were under way.  I had the narrow Chinatown streets (Pell and Bayard) almost to myself at that point.  I am sharing a few photos here.  Unfortunately, there were no dragon or lion dancers around (I can't get enough of them) and no confetti rockets went off.  I bought some to support the local economy but have not used them yet.  When I got home I found some unused ones from last year as well ;-), so I am now in the possession of five confetti rockets!  Now we just need an occasion.  The problem is that they create a big mess.  We may have to wait for another parade ;-), St. Patty's is probably next, just kidding.  
 I only encountered one person in costume (see below).  Nevertheless, I found myself scanning the street for these good luck parachutes. Everyone was looking for them last year at a post-parade street after party.  Until then I did not even know they existed.  Yes!  I found two of them;  I felt like I won the jack pot.  Last year R. and I had such a ball running, making friends and marveling at the floating parachutes.  These memories were triggered by the confetti and the word happiness and completeness entered my mind and how easy it often is to feel happy.    
What does all this have to do with self care, you may wonder?  Isn't happiness self care?  Are you not sure what I mean?  So then, let's come up with an experiential example.  Ready?  Please, recall one of your good-time memories and observe how you feel.  Are you smiling yet?  Chances are you are.  Happiness* is integral part of well-being, isn't it?  So just going to Chinatown made me happy, who cares that the parade was over?  However, there were many other benefits!    
  1. It is really important to spend time outdoors even in the winter; we need the sun and fresh air (okay, NYC air is not that fresh and aware of that and being a yogi, I personally most of the time breathe through the nose so the air gets cleaned and warmed up)
  2. Foreign cultures have always been of fascination for me personally ever since I can remember.  New York City has always been a paradise for me respectively.  So I was feeding one of my interests, which is uplifting.
  3. Both R. and I are practicing Chinese martial arts (T'ai Chi and Chi Gong), so we have somewhat of a direct connection through our practices and we have Chinese friends.  Add Reflexology to that.  One of its origins is China.
  4. Five days later I was in (another) 2-hour workshop with Robert Peng.  After gentle shaking, we did a rather lengthy standing meditation (I could feel it in my right thigh), lots of playing with the Chi Ball (Chi Gong is fun as per Robert Peng), self massage, etc. those workshop are very resetting.
Happy Chinese New Lunar Year of the Snake!  As you now know, there are many reasons why I love Chinese New Year's celebrations and hanging out in Chinatown.  One of my friends was kidding on fb, "are you Chinese now?"  The answer to that even we do not have personal connections to a different culture, we all can relate to other cultures because we all are members of the one human race and exposing ourselves to and participating in rituals we did not grow up with can be a very spiritual experience which most definitely enhances well-being.  Did I convince you that my trip to Chinatown looking was all about self care?     
parachute with happy new year wishes

the only costumed person I encountered- gold and red are everywhere around New Year's

Click here for a great photo of these parachutes in action!

I did a bit of research about well-being and happiness just to double check my own experience about happiness and well-being and what seems to be common sense, and wound up on the Positive Psychology Organisation's UK website.  You may have heard the term positive psychology before as I have.
The below is an excerpt taken from an article seen on the website.  And as I anticipated, my above claim has been scientifically proven.  At the bottom of the page are two more links, in case you find this subject just as interesting as I do.       

*"Why is it good to be happy?
 The common-sense answer to this question is that happiness is good because it feels good. However, research evidence demonstrates that there are other benefits too: positive affect and well-being lead to sociability, better health, success, self-regulation and helping behaviour.
Interestingly, well-being enhances creativity and divergent thinking. It appears that happiness, similarly to positive affect, stimulates playing with new ideas. New research has also shown that happy people persist longer at a task that is not very enjoyable in itself (tell your boss that only the happiest employees should be attending boring meetings!), are better at multi-tasking and are more systematic and attentive.
What is even more fascinating is that well-being is associated with longevity. One study analyzed the application letters of nuns entering convents at the age of 18 for expressions of happiness. It's important to note that all of these nuns had a very similar, moderate lifestyle - they didn't smoke or drink, had a balanced diet and worked as teachers. The results indicated that happiness expressed in these letters at the age of 18 predicted life duration. Years later, at the age of 85, 90% of nuns whose happiness was in the upper quarter were still alive compared to 34% of those who were least happy. Even at the age of 94, over half (54%) of the happiest nuns were still alive, while only 11% of those whose happiness fell into the lowest quarter were still living. So it looks like happiness can buy you an extra 9.4 years of life!

What happiness really is, or the science of subjective well-being

There is a big debate in psychology about whether happiness can and should be measured objectively or subjectively. Some argue that it cannot possibly be measured objectively because none of the obvious behaviours can be linked to happiness in a reliable manner. Even an outgoing and friendly appearance, which is so frequently observed among happy people, can be put on as a mask by those who are unhappy. Others, however, including Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman, believe in the objective assessment of happiness, which could be gathered from averaged out multiple assessments of people's moods over a period of time. This way, a happiness assessment would not need to be tied to memory and retrospective accounts. Nevertheless, the subjective paradigm appears to prevail at the moment, and this is what I'll be focusing on here. You might have noticed that, so far in this chapter, I seem to be using the words ‘happiness' and ‘well-being' interchangeably. This is because the notion of subjective well-being (SWB) is used in research literature as a substitute for the term ‘happiness'. It encompasses how people evaluate their own lives in terms of cognitive and affective explanations, and can be represented in the following way:"

Positive Psychology on Wikipedia
Happiness Means Just being Rushed Enough

Birgit Nagele, ARCB, LVCHT
ARCB-nationally certified Reflexologist 
Reflexology, LV Chair Yoga, Employee Wellness Online (new)
Private Clients, Corporate, Mobile Services, Self Care Workshops, Special Events, and Reflexology for the PUPPY
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