Friday, July 21, 2017

An Easy Math Trick Nobody Will Show You

DEFINITELY watch this when you have attention!!!!!
Important Useful:

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Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Art of Cleaning, by Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee and Hilary Hart | Parabola Essay

The Art of Cleaning, by Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee and Hilary Hart

Girl Sweeping. William McGregor Paxton, 1912. Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
In the busyness of our contemporary life we are drawn into ceaseless activity that often separates us from the deeper dimension of our self. With our smart phones and computer screens we often remain caught on the surface of our lives, amidst the noise and chatter that continually distract us, that stop us from being rooted in our true nature. Unaware, we are drowned deeper and deeper in a culture of soulless materialism.

At this time I find it more and more important to have outer activities that can connect us to what is more natural and help us live in relationship to the deep root of our being, and in an awareness of the moment which alone can give real meaning to our everyday existence. Over the years I have developed a number of simple practices that bring together action and a quality of mindfulness, or deepening awareness, that can nourish our lives in hidden ways. These activities, like mindful walking, cooking with love and attention, can reconnect us with the web of life, our natural interconnection with life in its beauty and wonder. They can help us "declutter" our outer life and instead become rooted in what is simple and real. One of these practices, which combines action with mindfulness, is cleaning.

The Art of Cleaning

Bamboo shadows sweep the stairs,
But no dust is stirred.
Moonlight penetrates the depths of the pool,
But no trace is left in the water.

–Nyogen Senzaki

The art of cleaning is a simple spiritual activity that is often overlooked. The image of the monk sweeping the courtyard has a deep significance, because without the practice of cleaning there can be no empty space, no space for a deep communion with the sacred. Outer and inner cleaning belong to the foundation of spiritual practice, and as the monk's broom touches the ground, it has a particular relationship to the Earth. We need to create a sacred space in order to live in relationship to the sacred within ourselves and within creation.

In today's busy life cleaning one's home is often considered a chore. We may spend time and energy (and expensive products) in our daily ritual bathing, but the simple art of cleaning our living space is rarely given precedence. Our culture calls to us to use products that will kill all of the "germs" that surround us, products that are often more toxic than the germs, but do we give attention, mindfulness, to caring for the space in which we live? Are we fully present with our brush or vacuum cleaner?

Once I realized that everything is part of one living whole, that nothing is separate, I understood how everything needs care and attention. I bring this feeling and awareness into my cleaning. Cleaning a table, dusting a shelf, I give attention and love, because everything responds to love and care—not just people, or animals, or plants, but everything. I feel strongly that just as I should have only what I need, I should have only what I can look after, love, and care for. It is a simple recognition of the sacred that is present within everything, and a way to live from the heart in everyday life. Maybe, having been brought up in a family without love or care, I feel this need especially strongly, but I sense that it comes from a deeper knowing of how everything is part of the fabric of love—that creation is woven out of love. And so when I clean I am also looking after, caring for, what is around me, knowing that it too needs to be loved.

Peasant Woman Sweeping the Floor. Vincent van Gogh, 1885. Oil on canvas on wood.
Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo, Netherlands

I must admit that I love to clean. I find cleaning deeply reassuring. Personally I love emptiness, inner and outer space. In cleaning my living space I am creating emptiness, clearing up the debris that so easily accumulates. And when one cleans with love and attention one is not just vacuuming the dust, but also the psychic debris, even the worthless thought-forms that stay in the air. Because our culture values only what it can see and touch, we do not understand this invisible accumulation. But it is real, and without conscious attention it clutters our life more than we realize. Just as ritual bathing prepares the worshipper, or just as we may take off our shoes at the entrance to a temple or mosque (or even a friend's home), cleaning is an important preparation for living with the sacred in our daily life.

When I first started lecturing, traveling over America, I would stay in people's houses. At the time I was lecturing mainly to Jungian psychology groups, and so would sometimes stay in the house of a therapist. I remember one night being given a bed in the "spare room," which was also my host's therapy room. After a few restless hours I gave up trying to sleep and realized that I was lying in the psychic soup of all of his patients. Through his therapy work he brought unconscious feelings to the surface, brought shadow dynamics, anger, and depression into consciousness. And so they were floating around the room, waiting to attach themselves to the next person who entered. The therapist had no understanding of psychic cleaning. Sadly it had not been part of his training or practice. The air was dense with discarded psychic contents.

This is not uncommon. Often people who do healing wash or shake their hands afterward, but then the illness just goes into the water or into the air, to be drunk or breathed by another. When my teacher was in India with her Sufi sheikh, she would sometimes witness him performing a healing. She noticed that after each healing he would cup his hands and bring something to his mouth. She realized that he was inwardly digesting the sickness that he had cleansed, so that it would not just stay in the air and attach itself to another person.

Ecological awareness teaches us the importance of recycling and composting. The waste from our daily lives should not be allowed just to accumulate in a landfill. Nor should it be allowed to get into our water, which in a less visible way is becoming toxic with all the tranquilizers and other drugs that go through our system into the water, affecting and mutating the fish. There are many ecologically aware people who make it a practice to leave as little as possible in their garbage bins for the landfills, and work to safeguard the food and water supply, and this is very commendable. But if we are to practice spiritual ecology, if we are to include the spiritual in our ecological awareness, we need to bring a greater awareness to all the debris we leave behind. We need to learn how to clear up after ourselves, how to keep an empty space—how to be attentive in our cleaning.

When we bring a quality of attention in our cleaning, the psychic debris can be absorbed along with the dust. Often the attention is linked to the breath, so the two work together.1 When we work this way the debris does not harm us, and I have found a deep satisfaction in this practice.

Our present culture teaches us to accumulate, but not how to make empty. But for real spiritual work in the inner and outer worlds, in order to give space to the divine, in order to return to the sacred, we need to practice a certain purification in our daily lives. We learn to eat consciously, to be attentive to our outer environment, to sweep our courtyard. We also need to learn how to clean our house, both physically and inwardly. Just as we need to learn to empty our mind in meditation, to clear away the clutter of unnecessary thoughts, so do we need to consciously clean our living space. Dusting, sweeping, vacuuming with attention, we bring a certain awareness to the ground of our being. This has to do with respect for our environment.

Handmade brooms, Philippines. Photo by CEphoto, Uwe Aranas

In some old Celtic rituals after a wedding the couple walk to the celebration preceded by a young boy and girl with brooms, who are sweeping away the evil spirits so that the couple have a happy marriage. These ancient rituals carry an understanding of the inner worlds and how they can affect our daily life. In the practice of spiritual ecology we are not just working with the outer physical world, but also the inner worlds, and we need to respect this. We need to relearn how to live lightly, to leave as little debris behind us as we can. We need to relearn how to sweep with our broom. It is simple good housekeeping, more important than we realize. ♦

1 In the Sufi practice we work with the heart, and so darkness and debris are also absorbed through the heart, with love. Sufis are sometimes known as "sweepers" because they sweep up the debris, the dust of the world, that others leave behind

© 2017 The Golden Sufi Center. Adapted from Spiritual Ecology: 10 Practices to Reawaken the Sacred in Everyday Life.

Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee is a Sufi mystic and lineage holder in the Naqshbandiyya-Mujaddidiyya Sufi Order. He is the founder of The Golden Sufi Center and the author of several books including "Spiritual Ecology" and "Darkening of the Light." For more information, please visit

Hilary Hart is the author and editor of several books including The Unknown She: Eight Faces of an Emerging Consciousness.

From Parabola Volume 42, No. 2, "Happiness," Summer 2017. This issue is available to purchase here. If you have enjoyed this piece, consider subscribing.

Extracts: Avoid Dangerous Herbs | John Douillard's LifeSpa

...dried, unprocessed herbs can be 1000 times more potent….!!!!!

When to Use Whole Herbs vs. Extracts

When shopping for herbal supplements, few people realize the differences that exist from one brand to the next. There is new evidence that provides deep insight into the differences between herbal extracts and an unprocessed, naturally dried product.

While extracts have been considered to be a more concentrated, therefore more potent, bang for your buck, studies now show that dried, unprocessed herbs can be 1000 times more potent in ways that are just now being understood. (3)

The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) has set standards for the total plate counts, or maximum allowable microbes, in both unprocessed herbs and herbal extracts.
  • Herbal extracts are allowed up to 104 or 10,000 CFU/g (colony-forming units per gram) natural microbes to exist on each plant. (3)
  • Alternately, unprocessed herbs that have been dried naturally, ground and capsulated are allowed to have up to 107or 10,000,000 CFU/g microbes on them. (3)

Unprocessed, dried herbs are allowed to have up to 1000 times more microbes than extracts, according to the AHPA. Herbal extracts are mostly sterile – carrying NO beneficial microbes.

Microbial Diversity and Herbal Intelligence

The same microbes that make up the 90% of the nucleated cells in the human body are the same ones found in soil. Plants attract these microbes from the dirt for reasons that are generally mutually beneficial to both the plant and microbe. For example, a plant may require a chemical that certain microbes excrete, and the microbes may feed on certain chemicals made by the plant. In such cases, plants may attract unique sets of beneficial microbes that may increase "microbial diversity" to whomever eats them.

Microbial diversity means that there are many different strains of beneficial microbes living in the gut. Many scientists believe this to be the key to a healthy immune system. Sadly, in the West, for reasons such as processed foods, antibiotics and an overly sterile environment, we have lost much of our microbial diversity and are, therefore, at risk for weak digestion and a potentially less robust immune response when under pathogenic threat.

Organic, unprocessed, whole, dried, raw herbs and foods can carry thousands of times more microbes on them than conventional herbs or foods. We all avoid non-organic or conventional foods and herbs because of the pesticide exposure that kills the beneficial microbes, but an equally important reason to avoid them may be that many of the beneficial microbes on conventionally processed foods and herbs, and herbal extracts are either dead or missing.

Herbal extracts, which make up the majority of supplements sold online and in health food stores, are usually made using alcohol as a solvent. Alcohol kills the beneficial microbes on the plant, rendering them permanently altered from their natural state. In fact, most extracted herbs have been sterilized.

It is important to note that much of the herbal intelligence, and possibly the benefits delivered by an herb, may have much to do with the microbial content. Remember, each plant seems to attract a certain set of beneficial microbes that works in synergy with the traditionally understood benefits of the plant.

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While the chemical constituents of plants have been the focus of scientific investigation of herbal medicines, in-depth research may suggest that the microbiology of the plants could offer a more subtle, and perhaps more potent, therapeutic signature.

At LifeSpa, our goal is to build self-sufficiency rather than a dependency on herbs. LifeSpa Organics is our major line of organic, unprocessed herbs. I believe these to be the safest and most effective way to build optimal health, better microbiology and self-sufficiency.

The Dangers of Herbal Extracts

Most people assume that the herbs sold on a health food store shelf or online are basically safe. Unfortunately, this is not always true – especially if you have a sensitive system!

Some herbal manufacturing techniques have turned herbs that are totally safe in their natural state into overly potent and potentially dangerous substances.

Let me share with you what has happened in this industry and how, despite these manufacturing techniques, you can choose the safest and most effective herbs available.

Recently, I heard a radio advertisement for a new super-concentrated prostate formula that claimed to be 1000 times more potent than what you might purchase at a natural foods store. I imagine the marketing company assumed that listeners would think, "Wow, if it is 1000 times stronger, it must be 1000 times better!" and that everyone would buy it.

Personally, when I heard this ad I was frightened! I said to myself, "This is not an herbal supplement, it is a drug." A thousand times stronger isn't necessarily better – it could be downright dangerous!

Standardized Extracts

In the 1970s, the standardized herbal extract was born in Europe in an attempt to standardize each dose of the same herb, no matter what the crop or manufacturer. Standardized extracts would always deliver a consistent dose. In nature, this just doesn't happen. Every crop is unique based on rainfall, soil, and location.

While I applaud the intention of a standardized extract, many manufacturers use standardized extracts to concentrate, increase potency, make patentable, and mimic the effectiveness of whole herbs.

A standardized extract is a process by which one active constituent is extracted from the original herb. This concentrate, which is standardized into one active ingredient, is then spiked, or loaded, back into an herbal base of that product.

This is a phytopharmaceutical process that is a topic of heated debate among herbalists.

Some extracts are known to carry toxic residues from the extraction solvents, and have significantly more adverse reactions.

While they may initially offer increased potency, the body can build up a tolerance to an extract and require higher and higher dosages. In addition, side effects can ensue – something that rarely happens with a whole herb product.

In Europe, herbal manufacturers are limited by law to standardizing or concentrating an herb only to the potency of the plant itself. In other words, making an extract 1000 times stronger than the plant is illegal. In the US, the practice of creating super-potent extracts is legal so, as consumers, we have to be careful!

Untold Side Effects

The FDA prohibits herb and supplement manufacturers from making disease claims, even though some manufacturers concentrate herbs to the point where they can potentially match the potencies of a drug. These super-potent extracts carry the risk of potential side effects and interactions with other drugs or supplements.

The good news is that most reputable manufacturers in the US follow the European standards and attempt to match and replicate the original plant blueprint, rather than super-concentrating one active ingredient.

In my opinion, extracts can be safely used by qualified herbalists or healthcare providers who understand the herbs, their extracts, and the potential interactions with other herbs or drugs.

At LifeSpa, we have a HP (High Potency) line of supplements. Some of these contain extracts that I suggest be used for a short time to restore balance to the body.

Generally, I use whole herbs rather than extracts because they work with the body, with minimal risk. Also, whole herbs are, plain and simple, unprocessed!

Nature's Extracts

While the best herbal companies try to match the blueprint of Mother Nature, this is a tough task. Generally, nature only puts a small amount of the so-called "most active" chemical in a plant, along with a cast of supportive constituents. This creates something quite different than the western approach of standardizing herbal extracts based on one active chemical.

Here's an example of a standardized extract label list:

Turmeric dried extract (root)
95% curcuminoids

This label means that 450mg of this product contains 95% of the one active ingredient, called curcuminoids.

Traditional medicinal systems, like Ayurveda, mix herbs, plants, and spices in specific combinations to naturally boost the effectiveness of an herb or herbal formula.

For example, when turmeric root is mixed with black pepper, studies have shown that this simple blend increases the absorption of the turmeric by 2000 %, (3,4)

In addition, there are over 300 natural constituents in turmeric root, and only one of those are the curcuminoids. In many studies, the whole plant of turmeric has outperformed curcumin (turmeric extract), suggesting that when we start altering nature's intelligence, we lose many of the plant's benefits and some of the bio-chemical synergy that humans may have evolved to safely digest over millions of years. (6)

Though the extract of turmeric may be one of the herbal extracts that are considered safe, traditional dishes like Indian curry combine turmeric with other spices in such a way that its efficacy matches and even outperforms some of the western world's most potent turmeric extracts.

One of my Ayurvedic teachers in Varanasi, India, Dr. Hari Narayana Singh, was well into his nineties when he accepted me as a student. One night, I asked him why he doesn't hire someone to stir the herbal formulas for him. He replied, "This formula requires 1008 strokes. How will I know they did all 1008 strokes?" I never asked that question again.

Another example: Amalaki, one of my favorite Ayurvedic herbs, is a citrus fruit that has about 10 times more vitamin C than an orange and is heralded as one of the highest food sources of vitamin C in the world. (8) It acts completely differently than the extracted or synthetic version of vitamin C. Most people have experienced the side effect of loose bowel movements from taking too much vitamin C, because it acts as a bowel irritant at higher doses.

Amalaki, with its content of full-spectrum vitamin C, is actually used to support occasional loose bowel function and balance the intestinal mucosa. (7) Even at extremely high doses, amalaki exhibits no known side effects. (7)

Once the vitamin C is extracted or synthetically copied, the potency may be enhanced, but it is often not tolerated well by the human body. The body and whole herbs have an innate intelligence.

Messing With Mother Nature

In one report, a small herbal company ran low on the herb, Cascara sagrada, commonly found in bowel-moving formulas. The company replaced the whole herb, which originally made up 25% of the formula, with the same amount of Cascara sagrada extract.

The active ingredient in the Cascara sagrada, called cascarols, went from 2% of the formula to 25% – making it 1000 times more potent.

Within 3.5 weeks, the company posted a total product recall because the side effects were so frequent and severe. (1)

Remember Kava Kava?

Kava Kava in its whole herb form has been safely used for mood support for thousands of years in Oceania.

In search of the next best-selling, mood-boosting herb, western companies extracted the active chemical of Kava Kava, called kavalactones. These kavalactones represent only a small part of this herb's blueprint. They are toxic to the liver in high isolated dosages without the other buffering constituents in that plant.

Kava Kava extract became a big-time, best-selling, mood-boosting herb. Shortly thereafter, Kava Kava itself was flagged by the FDA for liver toxicity, even though the problems were caused by the extract, not the whole herb. Falsely accused, this herb that is incredibly safe when taken as a whole herb, has now been given a life sentence.

Remember Ephedra?

The extract of Ephedra, called ephedrine, was originally used in many allergy remedies and became a popular weight loss herb because of its stimulating properties.

Companies made super-potent standardized extracts for maximal weight loss and, shortly thereafter, the FDA stacked up 1400 consumer complaints from adverse reactions to these standardized extracts. (1,2)

As a result, Ephedra was pulled off the market. Interestingly, not one of the 1400 complaints was caused by the whole herb. They were all caused by the super-potent and misused extract, ephedrine. (2)

The Biggest Oops of Extracts

In recent years, certain plants like St. John's Wort, Ashwagandha, Echinacea, Kava Kava, and Ginseng, have been standardized using only the most active constituent of the herb.

In certain cases, the "most active" constituent turned out to not be the most active after all, which may be the case with turmeric, coffee and others.

St. John's Wort, for example, has typically been standardized to a certain amount of hypericin, but it is now believed that hyperiform is actually the most active constituent in the herb. (9) Oops – they were concentrating the wrong chemical!

Extracts Are Not Always Safe

Drugs have side effects that must be disclosed. We have all seen and heard the big pharma TV ads that list the horrendous litany of side effects of the drug, all while showing a gorgeous couple kiss and ride off into the sunset.

Although herbal supplements are regulated by the FDA, it is the responsibility of the individual company to report any serious adverse events, leaving the safety of the consumer to the conscience of the retailer.

It becomes the consumer's responsibility to know what potency of the standardized extract is safe.

Valerian root naturally has a very low concentration of valerenic acid, which can be toxic to the liver at high dosages. The standardization process can concentrate a formula to any percentage of the valerenic acid, because the percentage contained in an herbal extract is up to the discretion of that company.

There is no American regulation of this and no overwhelming consensus to date on what would be most appropriate and safe.

That said, raw herbs have their limitations. When an herb is dried, it may lose some of the volatile aromatic constituents, whereas extracts try to capture those as well.

Buyer Beware!

While most natural food store brands are reliable and safe, it is challenging to know for sure. Beware of products that make big claims of a cure.

I don't use stimulants, sedatives, or laxatives in my practice because they tend to eradicate symptoms by overruling the body's intelligence. I prefer to understand and treat the cause of the imbalance without creating a dependency on the herbal product. While this is more challenging, it is where the joy of working with herbs resides.

Whole herbs work with the body, making it easier to restore balance and normal function without the need for continued herbal support.

What to Avoid

  • Products that claim a cure or super potencies.
  • Laxatives like Senna and Cascara sagrada, which are bowel irritants. Instead, I use herbs that lubricate and support digestion so you can have naturally healthy bowel movements, rather than forcing an irritating stimulant through the gut.
  • If you are sensitive to herbs or medications, consider only taking whole herb products. Standardized extracts will carry residue from extraction solvents, so beware if you are sensitive to chemicals.
  • Extracts can be safe if they are whole herb or full-spectrum concentrates, rather than the standardized extracts. But they will be more potent!
  • For 100% safety, use standardized extracts only if you are familiar with the manufacturer, the herb used, and its safety history. If you are unsure of where to start, non-profit organizations like the Natural Products Association and the American Herbal Products Association are good resources to contact for advice about a particular product before buying.


While there are many safe standardized extracts, I still believe in using the whole raw herb as if it were a food harvested from your garden whenever possible.

I use organic, whole herbs almost exclusively at LifeSpa because they carry the original intelligence and full-spectrum synergy of the plant. This means the whole plant is dried and ground – that's it. Most of the herbs we use have been eaten as foods or spices for thousands of years.

Each part of the herb is considered as valuable as the next. I believe that the plant's intelligence and effectiveness cannot be improved upon and, moreover, will likely never be fully understood.

Don't mess with Mother Nature!

V&A exhibition charts the rise and fall of humble plywood

Finally, the wonderful, humble PLYWOOD!!!

V&A exhibition charts the rise and fall of humble plywood

The social history of plywood – as an innovator in the furniture and transport industries, and a maligned everyday material – is explored in a new exhibition at London's V&A museum, which opens this weekend.

Plywood exhibition at the V&A Museum, London, UK

Curated by Elizabeth Bisley and Christopher Wilk, Plywood: Material of the Modern World provides a potted history of plywood through over 120 objects, ranging from the body of a plane to door handles.

Starting in the 1850s and progressing to present day, the exhibition acts as a timeline of the material's development and reputation.

Plywood exhibition at the V&A Museum, London, UK

"The exhibition offers a history of technology, it offers a history of the uses of plywood, but also a history of a way a public perception and fluctuating reputation of a material can actually affect how it's used," said Wilk at a press preview of the exhibition.

"People have forgotten the remarkable way that plywood was used."

Plywood exhibition at the V&A Museum, London, UK

"The use of plywood, just like the use of other materials, is not just a matter of science and technology," added Wilk.

"The decision to abandon wood in aircraft really in total was revived by de Havilland, the designer of the remarkable Mosquito – the highest flying, fastest aircraft in the second world war – because military leaders in Britain, Germany and the United States decided that metal was a material that fit their view of their airforces as future-looking," he said.

Plywood exhibition at the V&A Museum, London, UK

The show is divided into sections by three significant milestones in the production of the material – the invention of the rotary veneer cutter in the early 19th century, the introduction of the molding techniques that formed now-iconic modern furniture designs and the advent of digital technology and CNC-cutting techniques.

Plywood exhibition at the V&A Museum, London, UK

A single ply of wood unfurls from the wall at the entrance of the exhibition beside a video showing how many raw sheets like it are layered with their grains running at right angles to create the strong and mouldable material.

Examples of its applications range from packing cases for early Antarctic expeditions to the first architectural experimentations with the material in the 1930s, which resulted in a cheap housing model deployed during the Great Depression and second world war.

Plywood exhibition at the V&A Museum, London, UK

A group of ice-staking shelters by Canadian practice Patkau Architects are huddled in the corner of the museum's John Madejski Garden to show how the material is being used today.

Plywood is back at the fore of the construction industry with the development of cross-laminated timber, an engineered wood with thick laminations that is allowing architects to build taller than ever without the need for steel or concrete.

The exhibition will run from 15 July until 12 November 2017 in the V&A's Porter Gallery.

The V&A has just opened a new extension to its galleries designed by Amanda Levete's firm AL_A. It provides a porcelain-tiled entrance off Exhibition Road and an underground gallery, which will be used to offer a better layout for its blockbuster shows.

Louis Kahn's floating concert hall may go to scrap

This would look good in Mystic?!

Louis Kahn's floating concert hall may go to scrap

Photograph by Flickr user Joseph

A stainless steel barge that American architect Louis Kahn designed to host orchestral concerts will be scrapped at a Louisiana shipyard, unless it finds a new owner by the end of the month.

Kahn designed the Point Counterpoint II for his friend and conductor Robert Austin Boudreau, and the Pennsylvania-based American Symphony Orchestra, who use the boat to travel America's waterways during the summer months.

However, this year may be its last summer tour, as 90-year-old Boudreau is unable to maintain the vessel's upkeep. Following a long and unsuccessful search for a new owner for the boat, which had its first farewell tour in 1997, plans are now being made for its deconstruction.

Point Counterpoint II by Louis Khan to be scrapped
Photograph by Flickr user Dan Hatton

Kahn is revered as one the greatest architects of the 20th century. Earlier this month, restoration completed on the worn teak windows of his famous Salk Institute in California.

Despite being one of Kahn's lesser-known projects, the boat bears a striking design. Open-air concerts take place on its central stage, which is topped by a hydraulic roof that opens up like a clam for performances and closes for travelling.

Point Counterpoint II by Louis Khan to be scrapped
Photograph by Flickr user Spablab

Two stainless steel cabins punctured with circular openings flank the central stage, housing space for 13 crew members and staff, and living accommodation for the Boudreau's, and an art gallery below deck.

It also bears historical significance. The vessel was constructed in 1976, the year of the US bicentennial, and hosted events to mark the celebration.

There is still time to save the boat before it goes to a scrapyard in Louisiana.

American-French cellist Yo-Yo Ma, who is also a friend of Boudreau, has made a call for its rescue, describing it as a "vibrant ambassador for... national unity" despite lacking "the solidity and repose" of Kahn's more famous buildings.

"Anchoring in large cities and small towns, in busy shipping lanes and at public parks, the barge opens like a clamshell to reveal a glittering concert stage," he wrote in a letter published by The New York Review of Books.

"It sails as a powerful, living testament to American creativity and to the elemental role that culture plays in human life," he continued.

Point Counterpoint II by Louis Khan to be scrapped
Photograph by Flickr user Spablab

Kahn, who died aged 73 in 1974, never lived to see the boat complete. He developed a monumental and monolithic architectural style during his career in Pennsylvania, which became an influential force in the 20th century.

The late architect came 201st in the inaugural Dezeen Hot List ranking, following the major renovation of his building at Yale, which reopened last year.

His other notable projects include the Kimbell Art Museum, which Renzo Piano extended in 2013, and the Four Freedoms Park in New York, which opened to the public in 2013 – 40 years it was designed.

10 Medicinal Herbs That Might Live In Your (CT) Backyard

10 Medicinal Herbs That Might Live In Your Backyard

The other day, I was helping my mom garden some of the beds in the back of her house when we stumbled upon something that looked too amazing to be true. A gorgeous Reishi mushroom was growing on the stump of a hemlock tree underneath the fence between her and her neighbor's yard!

You know, Reishi, the "king of herbs" in Chinese medicine? Scientifically known as Ganoderma and believed by ancient Taoists to be a core ingredient in the elixir of everlasting life? Yup, right there in my mom's quaint little yard about 60 miles outside of New York City.

I had heard there were some great mushroom harvests to be had in the woods north of her home, but finding one in her shrubs was definitely unexpected.

The simple lesson here is that we don't need to go far to find the medicine. We fall into the habit of thinking that the transformation or wild prescription for us exists in an exotic location "elsewhere," but oftentimes they can be found right under our noses if we just open our eyes and take a look.

"Give nature half a chance and she has a miracle in store for everyone."
Rosita Arvigo

Below, I've shared 9 common low-growing medicinal herbs and 1 mushroom that you may want to search for in your own backyard or surrounding neighborhoods – plus, we've also noted which regions they can be found in. This is a good reason to keep your backyard chemical-free—and of course make sure you wash everything thoroughly before preparation and consumption.

Since some of these herbs have potent effects, be sure to look up any potential contraindications with regard to pregnancy, allergies, ailments, or other medications you may be taking. You may want to do additional research on those edibles you do find in your own backyard, to see if they align with your personal needs. And perhaps you have something growing in your yard that's not on this list. Take it to your local nursery for help in identification. With a little research, you can discover whether or not that plant has properties worth using, or if it's one to avoid.

Broadleaf Plantain (Plantago major): Unlike the large plantain trees that grow delectable fruits, the broadleaf plantain is a ground cover. Packed with Vitamin K, calcium, and other vitamins and minerals, the broadleaf plantain has a cleansing and detoxifying effect on the body. This medicinal plant has been used in treating colds, diarrhea, burns, open sores, wounds, mouth ulcers, boils, acne, throat pain, sunburn, fever, respiratory infections; improving liver and kidney function; relieving gastrointestinal inflammation; and drawing out poisons and toxins from bites and stings—even snake bites! It's often used as an anti-inflammatory and an analgesic, and you can make it into a tea, poultice, or salve. Where it growsNorth America, Europe, Australia and Asia.

Burdock (Arctium lappa): Burdock Root is an antioxidant powerhouse and has been used in Chinese Medicine for thousands of years. Some of its traditional uses include removing toxins from the blood, inhibiting certain types of cancers, treating skin issues, and acting as an aphrodisiac. It's also a natural diuretic, so be sure to hydrate properly. Consume in moderation. Consider trying in a tea, fresh root form, or dried root powder. Where it grows – North America, Europe, Australia and Asia.

Chickweed (Stellaria media): Chickweed is known as a natural skin rejuvenator, with both cooling and drying effects on wounds, sores, minor burns, acne, eczema, psoriasis, and other skin inflammations. It has also been used for constipation and relieving irritated eyes. Chickweed is a rich source of Vitamin C and potassium, and also provides nutritious trace vitamins and minerals. It fell out of style as a popular salad green, so you may want to try it that way first, or perhaps make chickweed vinegar by infusing it with apple cider vinegar. For topical use, create a salve from the plant's essential oils. Where it grows – North America, South America, Central America, Europe, Australia and Asia.

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale): Perhaps the most prolific and recognizable, the dandelion is greatly undervalued. This beneficial plant is often found in some of the finest herbal teas, and is used for its healing benefits to treat high blood pressure, calcium deficiency, cancer, diabetes, diverticulitis, irritable bowel syndrome, urinary tract infections, and eczema and psoriasis; detoxify the liver; aid digestion; and reduce inflammation. Use in salad greens, or dry the leaves and roots to make a tea. Where it grows – North America, South America, Central America, Europe, Australia and Asia.

Lamb's Quarters (Chenopodium album): This "prince of wild greens" is a common garden weed packed with enough protein to rival spinach, along with Vitamins A and C, calcium, phosphorous, iron, and a multitude of minerals. Our ancestors prized this plant's medicine for its purification properties to "improve the blood," and also to treat rheumatism and arthritis, toothaches and tooth decay, constipation, insect stings, eczema, and gout. Keep seed consumption to a minimum, but freely consume the leaves, shoots, and flowers. Eat fresh leaves and flowers mixed in with your other salad greens; steam or stir fry along with your favorite vegetables; or cook and puree with some of your favorite soups. You can also grind seeds into flour. Where it grows – North America, Europe, Australia, Africa and Asia.

Reishi Mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum): If you are fortunate enough to live in an area where the reishi grows, you may already be aware of its long-touted healing properties. Mainly used in prevention of disease, the reishi offers protection against inflammation, various infections, skin disorders, diabetes, heart and liver disease, sleep disorders, digestive problems, cancer, fatigue, anxiety, depression, and viruses, including HIV/AIDS and hepatitis. It also helps to restore hormonal imbalance, and regulates various cellular functions. Because of its slightly bitter flavor, it's traditionally dried and then prepared for a tea, or pulverized into a powder and mixed into your favorite protein shake. Where it grows – Eastern North America, South America, Europe and Asia.

Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica): Be careful—this herb can sometimes "sting" and leave a rash when bare skin comes into contact with the acid-filled needles. Once boiled, however, the nettles leave you with leaves that, when ingested, provide nutritious elements and anti-inflammatory properties. Nettle leaves have been used in treating allergy symptoms, lowering blood pressure, improving immune system response, reducing pain, acting as a diuretic, treating skin conditions, thickening hair while also reducing dandruff, and causing a sedative effect. The plant's root has been used to address prostate concerns in men. Handle and harvest while wearing gloves, and then boil or cook to remove the sting from the nettles. The easiest and perhaps most common way to use nettles are in a tea, where you can flavor with other herbs or spices to taste. But once cooked, you can also use nettle leaves like most other greens and use in salads, or season and bake them (like kale chips), or grind to make a pesto. For the roots, toss them in a stir fry or dry like the leaves for use in a tea. Where it grows – Western North America, Europe, Northern Africa and Asia.

Purslane (Portulaca oleracea): Purslane is an excellent source of fiber; Vitamins A, B, and C; iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, potassium, copper, and powerful antioxidants. Our ancestors have used it for hundreds of years to prevent and cure disease. It's been used to treat high cholesterol, diarrhea and other gastrointestinal disorders, skin conditions, and cancer. It's believed to improve vision, strengthen bones, increase circulation, and aid in weight loss. Try it mixed with salad greens. Where it grows – North America, South America, Central America, Europe, Africa, Australia and Asia.

Red Clover (Trifolium pratense L.): Menopause symptoms. Maintaining bone strength. Improving cardiovascular health. Lowering risk for various types of cancers. Reducing skin inflammation. Fighting respiratory infections. Detoxifying the liver. Boosting the immune system. Managing cholesterol. Balancing hormones. These are just some of the many disorders and "symptoms of aging" that red clover has been used to treat. Dry the herb to make a tea, or make a salve for a topical medicine. Where it grows – North America, South America, Central America, Europe, Australia and Asia.

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium): This pretty little flowering herb is wonderful for healing skin conditions; stopping bleeding (external); encouraging bleeding in cases of amenorrhea; alleviating anxiety; acting as a mild sedative; reducing inflammation; and treating mastitis, high blood pressure, asthma, and muscle spasms. Use fresh leaves in salads, soups, or sautéed dishes, or use dried leaves as a cooking herb. Where it grows – North America, Europe and Asia.

Many of these herbs are sold in supplement form, but you can bypass the middle-man and go directly to the source by taking a look around and experimenting on your own. Perhaps LA-based guerilla gardener Ron Finley says it best:

"Growing your own food is like printing your own money."

Stay curious,

Nick Polizzi
Founder, The Sacred Science

Filed Under: Herbalism

About Nick Polizzi

Nick Polizzi has spent his career directing and editing feature length documentaries about natural alternatives to conventional medicine. Nick's current role as director of "The Sacred Science" stems from a calling to honor, preserve, and protect the ancient knowledge and rituals of the indigenous peoples of the world.

View all posts by Nick Polizzi

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