Martin Crawford & His Forest Garden

Martin Crawford, a forest gardening pioneer, based in the UK, explains in a short film by Thomas Regnault, “What we think of as normal, in terms of food production is actually not normal at all. Annual plants are very rare in nature, yet most of our agricultural fields are filled with annual plants. It’s not normal. What’s normal is a more forested or semi-forested system.”

Crawford began his food forest in 1994 – on a flat field, now transformed into a beautiful, thriving garden with more than 500 edible plants. Incredibly, it takes care of itself with just a few hours of maintenance a month. ‘’They are managed, but managed lightly,’’ Crawford says. ‘’They are more like being out in nature than being in a cultivated garden.”

Fortunately, pioneers like Crawford and other enthusiasts have done all the research and are willing and able to share their knowledge to help you create your own sustainable food forest garden.

“It can seem overwhelming, there are so many species,” Crawford says. “You shouldn’t let that stop you from starting a project, because you don’t have to know everything to begin with. Just start, plants some trees, and go from there.”

Watch the film here, and visit the The Agroforestry Research Trust, of which Crawford is the founder and director.

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Asian Sea Nomads

These Asian Sea Nomads Are the First Known Humans to Have a Genetic Adaptation to Diving

I pride myself as a blue mind who loves the water with a strange obsession. Sadly, I can’t hold my breath underwater for up to a minute. The average healthy person who isn’t trained in static apnea can hold their breath for a maximum of two minutes underwater, with the added benefit of breathing in pure oxygen beforehand.

Now imagine a tribe of people, an ethnicity that is genetically adapted to survive underwater without oxygen for at least 13 minutes on an average. The Bajau Laut people of Southeast Asia are not specially trained in modern static apnea, but they’ve been discovered to have evolved physiologically and genetically, gaining new features that have basically turned them to human seals [1].

The diving reflex is a group of automatic responses that occur when the face of an air-breathing mammal is submerged into water. Your blood vessels constrict, your spleen contracts, and your heart rate slows in response to being low on oxygen. Your body will try to maximize its oxygen reserves until you can breathe in oxygen again. The splenic contraction is especially important as it releases red blood cells and increases the oxygen capacity of the blood.

Sea Gypsies

The Bajau people are a seafaring, nomadic, fishing clan who spend almost 60 percent of their life deep-diving underwater. A 2018 study published in the Journal Cell found that they may have evolved to have larger spleens, estimably 50 percent bigger than that of an average person [2]. This enables them to maintain the diving reflex for much longer while underwater. An enlarged spleen would mean a more sufficient red blood cell reservoir for deep-diving purposes. More red blood cells would mean that you would be able to carry more oxygen in your blood, allowing for longer dives. Essentially improving how efficient we are at utilizing the oxygen we breathe in. 

The Bajau are subsistent people found in the waters off Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines, living in long houseboats known as lepas. They fish for their food and only come to the town to trade for other items or to seek shelter from storms. The Bajau have lived on the sea for many centuries and about 200 years ago, some populations began to settle on the shores, especially in and on the coasts of Malaysia [3].

They have several traditional methods of fishing, with diving being the most common. Using wooden goggles and hand weights, they swim as deep as 30 meters (100 feet) into the water to catch fish for survival. They also love to dive for a particular sea cucumber species known as trepang, with which local delicacies and soups are made.

The researchers found that members of the tribe who do not dive also have the genetic mutation of an enlarged spleen. They suspect that a particular gene known as PDE10A might be responsible for the mutation in the Bajau. PDE10A controls a thyroid hormone known as T4 which increases metabolic rates and combats low oxygen levels in times of distress. T4 has been linked to larger spleen sizes in mice. Also, mice that have been manipulated to have lower amounts of T4 would end up with smaller spleens.

“If there’s something going on at the genetic level, you should have a certain sized spleen. There we saw this hugely significant difference,” said Melissa Ilardo, lead scientist in the research at National Geographic.

There were other diving-specialized genes specialized discovered in the Bajau, performing several functions that wouldn’t be found even in people of other ethnicities close to the Bajau. When the diving response kicks in, one of these genes would cause blood to rush from the limbs and other non-essential parts to the heart and lungs. Another would prevent the occurrence of hypercapnia from extended periods spent underwater, a condition caused by elevated levels of carbon dioxide in the blood.

Other adaptations

There is another physiological adaptation suspected to be at play in the Bajau people. Richard Moon, a scientist from the Duke University School of medicine studies the body’s reaction to extreme depths and high altitudes. Deep diving causes blood to fill the vessels in the lungs and if they are ruptured, the victim could die in a matter of minutes. Moon believes that regular training and constant diving could cause the walls of the lungs to become stronger and more adapted to withstand high volumes of blood.

The lung chest wall could become more compliant. There could be some looseness that develops over your training. The diaphragm could become stretched. The abs could become more compliant. We don’t really know if those things occur,” he said to National Geographic [4]“The spleen is able to contract to some extent, but we don’t know of any direct connection between thyroid and spleen.”

This adaptation is found to be common in the Tibetans and the Bajau. The Tibetans live on the lofty plateaus in the Himalayas, a place called the “Roof of the World” because of its stunningly high altitudes. To live at such heights, the Tibetans also have some peculiar physical adaptations.

The future of hypoxia

Although they are countries away from each other, the researchers believe that the Tibetans and the Bajau may have suffered extensively from hypoxia in older generations. Hypoxia is a condition characterized by a deficiency of oxygen in the tissues to sustain bodily functions [5]. It is possible that the ancient members of these two ethnicities suffered so greatly from hypoxia that their genes mutated to enable them to cope with it. Modern-day Tibetans can now survive better at high altitudes and the Bajau can dive to extreme depths underwater.

There is hope for new knowledge on hypoxia management techniques from studying these clans, especially the Bajau.

According to Ilardo, marginalization, and segregation is making life exceptionally difficult for the Bajau in their native dwellings. They are not regarded as equals with the citizens of the countries in which they make their homes on seas and shores. Thousands of them have migrated from the seas due to increased industrial fishing by their host countries. She fears that they may be fully dispersed by the time scientists are ready to delve into researching their adaptations.

Source – TheHeartySoul

Stem Cells From Frogs To Build First Living Robots

Researchers foresee myriad benefits for humanity, but also acknowledge ethical issues

 First ‘living robots’ designed on supercomputer – video

Be warned. If the rise of the robots comes to pass, the apocalypse may be a more squelchy affair than science fiction writers have prepared us for.

Researchers in the US have created the first living machines by assembling cells from African clawed frogs into tiny robots that move around under their own steam.

One of the most successful creations has two stumpy legs that propel it along on its “chest”. Another has a hole in the middle that researchers turned into a pouch so it could shimmy around with miniature payloads.

“These are entirely new lifeforms. They have never before existed on Earth,” said Michael Levin, the director of the Allen Discovery Center at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. “They are living, programmable organisms.”

Roboticists tend to favour metal and plastic for their strength and durability, but Levin and his colleagues see benefits in making robots from biological tissues. When damaged, living robots can heal their wounds, and once their task is done they fall apart, just as natural organisms decay when they die.

Their unique features mean that future versions of the robots might be deployed to clean up microplastic pollution in the oceans, locate and digest toxic materials, deliver drugs in the body or remove plaque from artery walls, the scientists say.

“It’s impossible to know what the applications will be for any new technology, so we can really only guess,” said Joshua Bongard, a senior researcher on the team at the University of Vermont.

The robots, which are less than 1mm long, are designed by an “evolutionary algorithm” that runs on a supercomputer. The program starts by generating random 3D configurations of 500 to 1,000 skin and heart cells. Each design is then tested in a virtual environment, to see, for example, how far it moves when the heart cells are set beating. The best performers are used to spawn more designs, which themselves are then put through their paces.

Because heart cells spontaneously contract and relax, they behave like miniature engines that drive the robots along until their energy reserves run out. The cells have enough fuel inside them for the robots to survive for a week to 10 days before keeling over.

The scientists waited for the computer to churn out 100 generations before picking a handful of designs to build in the lab. They used tweezers and cauterising tools to sculpt early-stage skin and heart cells scraped from the embryos of African clawed frogs, Xenopus laevis. The source of the cells led the scientists to call their creations “xenobots”.

A xenobot with four limbs
 A xenobot with four ‘limbs’. Photograph: Douglas Blackiston

Writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers describe how they set the robots loose in dishes of water to keep the frog cells alive. Some crept along in straight lines, while others looped around in circles or teamed up with others as they moved around.

“These are very small, but ultimately the plan is to make them to scale,” said Levin. Xenobots might be built with blood vessels, nervous systems and sensory cells, to form rudimentary eyes. By building them out of mammalian cells, they could live on dry land.

Sam Kriegman, a PhD student on the team at the University of Vermont, acknowledged that the work raised ethical issues, particularly given that future variants could have nervous systems and be selected for cognitive capability, making them more active participants in the world. “What’s important to me is that this is public, so we can have a discussion as a society and policymakers can decide what is the best course of action.”

Traces left by xenobots as they move through a field of particulate matter
 Traces left by xenobots as they move through a field of particulate matter. Photograph: Douglas Blackiston

He was less concerned about xenobots posing any threat to humankind. “If you watch the video, it’s hard to fear that these things are taking over any time soon,” he said.

But the work aims to achieve more than just the creation of squidgy robots. “The aim is to understand the software of life,” Levin said. “If you think about birth defects, cancer, age-related diseases, all of these things could be solved if we knew how to make biological structures, to have ultimate control over growth and form.”

The research is funded by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s lifelong learning machines programme, which aims to recreate biological learning processes in machines.

Thomas Douglas, a senior research fellow at the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, said: “There are interesting ethical questions about the moral status of these xenobots. At what point would they become beings with interests that ought to be protected? I think they’d acquire moral significance only if they included neural tissue that enabled some kind of mental life, such as the ability to experience pain.

“But some are more liberal about moral status. They think that all living creatures have interests that should be given some moral consideration. For these people, difficult questions could arise about whether these xenobots should be classified as living creatures or machines.”

Source – TheGuardian 

Pyramid Meditation & How Pyramids Effect Prana

Sadhguru shares  some pyramid myths while also explaining the science behind the pyramid structure and how it affects prana.

Yogi, mystic and visionary, Sadhguru is a spiritual master with a difference. An arresting blend of profundity and pragmatism, his life and work serves as a reminder that yoga is a contemporary science, vitally relevant to our times.

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Jolllof Rice w. Yewande Komolafe

“We don’t say a dish is spicy — we say it has pepper.” Yewande Komolafe is a recipe writer who grew up in Lagos and found herself searching for the heat and flavor of Nigerian food in the U.S. She picked the 10 essential Nigerian recipes, and this jollof rice was No. 1. It’s smoky and has a spicy kick. Get the jollof rice recipe: Yewande’s 10 Essential Nigerian Recipes: Photo Credits: Photography by Johnny Miller Food styling by Rebecca Jurkevich Prop styling by Paige Hicks —————————————— SUBSCRIBE: INSTAGRAM: FACEBOOK: TWITTER: PINTEREST: About NYT Cooking: All the food that’s fit to eat (yes, it’s an official New York Times production).

Making Mushrooms Meaty

On my cooking show today I welcome my friend Chef Derek Sarno & what we create is simply INCREDIBLE 🌎 SUBSCRIBE –… 💬

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A HINDU PYRAMID in Cambodia? Baksei Chamkrong & Tikal Temple

Hey guys, today we are going to look at a very strange place called Baksei Chamkrong in the Angkor Wat Complex in Cambodia. This is a very strange site because this is the only stepped pyramid in this temple complex.
This pyramid in Cambodia is almost identical to the pyramid found in Mesoamerica. There is a pyramid called Tikal. There is a pyramid in a place called Tikal and that pyramid looks not even similar but almost identical.
The Tikal Pyramid is in the country of Guatemala, in central America and this is roughly 10,000 miles from the Baksei Chamkrong Pyramid in Cambodia. But when you look at them side by side, it is mind boggling. There is no doubt, they were both built by the same builders. Or did these 2 civilizations, separated by 10,000 miles, contacting and communicating with each other using advanced technology, just like what we do today?
How else do you explain these similarities? Look at the construction style in both temples. The masonry is the same, Make rectangular blocks of stone, and place them on top of one other. Look at the basic design: Not even similar, almost identical. Both of them pyramids, both of them are stepped pyramids, both of them have a staircase laid out in the center. Both of them have a dome like structure built on the top, both have them have a doorway in the center of the dome. It is impossible that all these similarities are a result of mere coincidence.
Think about this, if these 2 structures were constructed within a 10 mile radius or a 100 mile radius, archeologists and historians would swear they were built by the same builders. However, simply because they are separated by 10,000 miles, experts now swear that this is a pure coincidence, built by 2 completely different civilizations which had no contact with each other.

Mantra Practice 102

Mantra Yoga: Mantra practice is a central aspect of traditional Yoga. Following are 13 practical tips on how to use a mantra or sacred word. These suggestions are general in nature and should apply to most any use of mantra.

13 Tips on Mantra in Yoga Meditation, Vedanta, and Tantra
(More YouTube videos by Swami J)


Opposites can both be useful: Mantra japa (repeating or remembering mantra) can seem a bit complex when we ask what one should or should not do, or what is right versus wrong to do. Actually, two seemingly opposite practices can both be useful, with one simply being subtler than the other, or having a greater tendency to lead attention inward. One method may be a starting place that naturally evolves into the other. 

Two ends of a spectrum: All of the descriptions below contrast one pole of a spectrum with the other (external-internal or gross-subtle). In this way, the practices can easily be compared, while seeing the relative value of one versus the other. One form of practice might be useful at one stage, and the other more useful later on. 

Contents of this web page:  
Parrot-like repetition and repetition with feeling 
Chanting mantra aloud or internally 
With willpower or repeating itself 

Repeating fast or at its own speed 
Counting mantras or not counting 
With mala or counting beads, or without 

Mantra as word, feeling, awareness, or silence 
As a name of God 

Whether or not to allow mantra to lead to silence 
Speaking/reciting or listening/remembering 
Pushing away thoughts or allowing them to flow 

Japa as reciting or listening 
Ajapa japa as automatic reciting or awareness 

See also these web pages:
Japa and Ajapa-Japa with mantra 
Mantra, brain, and word 
Soham mantra 
OM mantra 
OM and 7 methods of practice 
Gayatri mantra 
Mahamrityunjaya mantra 

Universal seed mantras: The foundational, primary sounds are called seed or bija vibrations in Sanskrit. Such universal sounds can also be called basal, prime, primordial, essential or basic sound vibrations, as well as other descriptive names. 

• Om is such a sound, especially when focusing on the Mmmmm… sound vibration, which is somewhat like mentally remembering the sound of a buzzing bee. Both inhalation and exhalation might be done smoothly and slowly, while remembering that Mmmm… sound mentally. Om Mantra can be used as a seed vibration alone, or along with deeper meanings.

• Soham is a universal mantra vibration, with Sooo… being remembered with inhalation and Hummm… being remembered with exhalation.

• Ahhh… can be remembered with inhalation and Ummmm… remembered with exhalation.

• Many other such sound vibrations can also be used, whether or not coordinated with breath. For example, any of the single-syllable vowel sounds can be used, with or without an Mmmm… sound at the end.

It is the practice itself that will convince one of the viability of such universal sound vibrations as means of relieving the autonomic nervous system, while calming and focusing the mind. Mantra practice like this will prepare the mind for deeper meditation beyond the syllables of the mantras.

Longer mantras: There are many longer mantras in many languages. Some are like positive affirmations and some are for specific, desired benefits. Some are related to religions, and some are not. The principles of using mantra that are listed below are universal, applying to all of the many types of mantras.

Compact prayer: Some mantras can be described is as short, compact prayers. One can easily think of examples where a particular sentence or phrase from a longer prayer or writing forms a compact prayer or mantra. Once again, the principles below are universal, applying to any of these types of mantra.



parrot-like repetition

repetition with feeling

Repetition with feeling 

One can recite a mantra solely as a mental process, somewhat like training a parrot in rote repetition. While this may help train the mind to be one-pointed, it is not nearly as beneficial as reciting the mantra with feeling. Recitation along with feeling is a deeper process that brings greater benefits. 

In either case, it is important to note that the use of mantra merely to repress emotions is not the intent. With emotional challenges, mantra can have a stabilizing effect while a person deals with those challenges in other healthy ways as well. 




chanting mantra aloud

chanting mantra internally

Chanting internally 

Chanting mantra aloud can be a very enjoyable and useful process, whether alone or done with a group of people. 

After some time that process turns inward, and the chanting is done in the inner silence. 




repeating mantra with conscious willpower

allowing mantra to arise and repeat itself 

Repeating itself 

One might initially use willpower to remember the mantra. This training the mind has a centering or balancing effect. (However, it is not a good idea to use mantra to repress, avoid, or escape from other thoughts and emotions.) 

Another approach is to sit silently, with attention inward, and allow the mantra to arise and repeat itself. It might take some patience, but this is a subtler practice. 

Notice that repeating with willpower is a form of expression, while allowing mantra to arise and repeat itself requires attention. (Expression and attention relate to the indriyas.)

The process of attention is more internal than the process of expression. Also, attention leads to concentration; in turn, concentration leads to meditation; and then, meditation leads to samadhi.  




intentionally repeating mantra fast

allowing mantra to come at its own speed

At its own speed 

Some practitioners and teachers of mantra recitation intentionally see how fast they can recite the mantra. This can definitely create a groove in the mind for remembering the mantra. 

A more advanced or internal practice is to allow the mantra to come at it’s own speed. Over time, the mantra will naturally shift in speed, sometimes moving very fast, faster than the mind might normally be able to recite. At other times, it will naturally move very slowly. 




counting mantras

not counting mantras

Counting or not counting 

Counting practices can help to focus the mind and create deep impressions that have a stabilizing effect. 

A practice where a specific number of mantras is done over an extended period of time (called a purascharna) can be a very beneficial practice in clearing or purifying the mind. For example, one might do 125,000 repetitions over a few months. A larger and longer practice is called a maha-purascharna.

Yet, when counting mantras, awareness might tend to stay more on the surface level due to the external aspect of the counting. 

When the counting is set aside, the mantra can more purely shift to a deeper form of meditation, where attention is naturally drawn to the mantra as a single object of focus.  

Both practices, counting and not counting, are useful and have their place in sadhana (spiritual practices).




with mala or counting beads

without mala or counting beads

With or without mala 

In the beginning of using mantra, it can be beneficial to use mala or counting beads when remembering mantra (mala usually has 108 beads). By getting the physical body involved through the motion of the fingers, it can be much easier for the mind to stay focused. 

However, setting aside the mala, disengaging the use of the motion of the body (the karmendriyas) allows the attention to more purely go inward, past body and sensory awareness, following the mantra as it leads you inward. 

Both types of practice, with or without mala, are useful and have their place in sadhana (spiritual practices).




as word and meaning 

as a feeling

as a constant awareness 

as soundless sound / silence 

Four levels 

Mantra will naturally move inward through stages, if allowed. It is important to remember this, so as to not unintentionally keep meditation shallow when it is trying to move into deeper peace. 

For example, the word shanti means peace or tranquility. The feeling that gradually emerges is more internal and peaceful than is the repetition of the syllables alone. When the syllables drift away, one might then meditate on the feeling of peace itself, which is more subtle. Initially, this feeling might fade quickly, and be resurrected by again remembering the syllables of the mantra. 

Gradually, that feeling has fewer breaks or distractions, and becomes a somewhat constant, pervasive awareness. 

This eventually leads inward to a deep awareness that is the root of the sound. It somewhat defies description, but as a root of the sound, it is like a soundless sound of the mantra that is resting in silence.   





external repetition of the name or mantra 

internal remembering of the name or mantra

silent longing for what is behind the name 

Mantra as a name of God

Some practitioners use as their mantra a name of God from within their religion, or as given by a teacher. 

At first the mantra or name might be used externally through repetition, chanting, or in song. 

Or, the name or mantra might be recited or remembered internally. 

Then, the name or mantra itself might drift away, as the grosser sound is replaced by a deeper longing or communion for what is behind the name or mantra. 




not allowing mantra to “lead” you to silence

allowing mantra to “lead” you to silence

Mantra will lead 

Sometimes the mantra is naturally trying to lead attention into silence, and the practitioner thinks that mantra is being forgotten. There may be extra effort to then continue to recite, or internally speak the mantra. 

Deeper than this is to allow the mantra to naturally lead attention to its deeper, subtler aspect that rests in the silence. 

This leading process can be tricky in practice, as one might just be falling asleep. It requires a bit of practice and attention to notice the difference between drifting off into sleep and going into a deeper, quieter, more clear state of mantra meditation. 

This leading quality is one of the most important aspects of mantra practice. 




internally “speaking” or “reciting” the mantra

internally “listening to” or “remembering” the mantra

Speaking vs. listening 

A good way to understand this dimension is to think of songs you may have heard. Once those sounds are in your mind, they automatically arise, without any effort. 

Initially one may internally speak or recite the mantra. 

Later, the practice is more like listening to or remembering the mantra, than actively speaking. 

One may or may not literally hear an inner sound. It is the mental stance of listening or remembering that is being practiced here. It is somewhat like remembering a person whom you love. The name of the person may come and go in your mind field, but the memory of the person is not dependent on the presence of the name. 

(To further understand the significance of the difference between speaking and hearing, see the paper on the indriyas.) 




pushing away thoughts with mantra

allowing thoughts to flow through the mind before remembering mantra

Dealing with thoughts 

Mantra can unwisely be used to repress ones thinking process. Mantra should not be used to avoid life and dealing with mental and emotional issues. At meditation time, one can easily get into an inner fight between the mantra and the stream of thoughts. This is not the best thing to do. 

Better than fighting, is to allow a period of time for inner reflection or internal dialogue to explore and deal with those thoughts and emotions. Then, it is much easier to remember the mantra as it naturally arises in the stream of the mind.  




approach that “japa” means reciting mantra

approach that “japa” means listening to mantra

Japa and listening

Some translate the Sanskrit word Japa as reciting or repeating, while others translate Japa as listening or remembering. One is an active process of expressing, while the other is a passive process of paying attention. 

These are two different approaches to the use of mantra (mantra japa). The process of actively reciting or repeating is more externally focused, while the process of listening or paying attention is more internally focused. 

The active process is easier to practice in the beginning, while the attention process is more internal and advanced.




approach that “ajapa japa” means automatic repetition of mantra

approach that “ajapa japa” means constant awareness of mantra

Ajapa japa 

For the approach whereby mantra japa means actively repeating (noted above), this process might become automatic over time (like spontaneously singing a song you have heard many times). This automatic repetition is one form of the term ajapa japa.  

For the approach whereby mantra japa means listening or paying attention, that awareness might gradually become a constant awareness of the underlying feeling associated with the mantra. This is another, subtler form of the term ajapa japa. 

Where mantra japa means repetition, then putting a- in front of it means without repetition. Hence, ajapa japa is repetition without repetition (it is automatic). 

Where mantra japa means listening or remembering, then ajapa japa means constant remembering without the effort of reciting to cause that awareness.   



From: The Art of Joyful Living
Swami Rama

My way of using the mantra is different from yours, because I do not want to fool around with the process. I sit down, and I observe my whole being listening to the mantra. I do not remember the mantra or repeat the mantra mentally, because then the mind repeats many things.

Instead I make my whole being an ear to hear the mantra, and the mantra is coming from everywhere. This will not happen to you immediately in meditation, but when you have attained or accomplished something, then this will happen to you. Then, even if you do not want to do your mantra, it is not possible to avoid it. Even if you decide that you do not want to remember the mantra, it will not be possible.

Finally, even the mantra does not exist; only the purpose for which you repeat the mantra is there; you are There. The mantra might still be there, but it exists as an experience that overwhelms your whole being, and is not separate from you.

Source –