Diva Rambling: Gossip Cures…

I truly am on a kick to be a better Cronista!  However this morning I woke up and wanted to kick something.  Then I hugged my puppy who had been up all night chewing up the house and I felt better.  Then the day started ;~)  I wanted to rant about all the disorganized, non-visionary, unsympathetic, slanderous cows around me….STOP!!! RESET!!! Now I am at work and needing the tips below…Love to all….Namaste, The Queen Cronista

6 Steps to Recover From a Gossip Addiction

Here are some tips by Sarah Wilkins for monitoring and controlling your tendency to talk negatively about others.

1. Pick a gossip buddy.

One spiritual teacher suggests that you confine your gossiping to one or two people, perhaps your best friend, spouse, or significant other. If you have a designated gossip buddy, it’s much easier to practice restraint with the other people in your life. Choose someone who can keep secrets and who will support you in your desire to be more conscious of what you say.

2. Catch yourself.

Learn to notice when you’re about to make a snarky remark, and stop yourself before you do. If one slips out, apologize.

3. Notice the aftertaste.

Become aware of what it feels like after you gossip. It will be different for everyone, but for me the aftertaste of gossip feels like anxiety (tight shoulders, tight stomach) and what I can only describe as a worried, slightly sinking feeling that comes from sensing I might have said something I’ll regret. Note where you feel the tension in your own body the next time you engage in a gossip fest.

4. Just say no.

Turn down invitations to pick others apart. Try changing the subject when a friend wants to have a bad-mouthing session. Ask them (tactfully) to talk about something else, and tell them that you’re trying to break yourself of the negative gossip habit. You’ll find that many people will actually thank you.

5. Don’t rush to judgment.

When someone confides a piece of gossipy information about someone else, question it. Check the source. Don’t believe something unless you have clear proof—and the fact that a whole lot of people are saying something does not constitute clear proof.

6. Try a one-day gossip fast.

Decide that for one whole day you won’t talk about other people. Then, notice when that’s especially difficult. Observe what feelings prompt you to share news about someone or repeat something you’ve heard. Does your desire to gossip come from a feeling of emptiness or boredom? Does it come from a desire for intimacy with the person you’re talking to? What happens inside you when you deny the urge? How do you feel when you’ve gone through a whole conversation without once saying, Have you heard?

Sally Kempton is an internationally recognized teacher of meditationand yogic philosophy and the author of Meditation for the Heart of It.

https://www.yogajournal.com/yoga-101/6-ways-to-stop-yourself-from-gossiping-and-why-it-matters

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Diva Tasting: Braised Chicken & Vegetables…

Oven-Braised Chicken Thighs with Fennel and Olives

Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 3 Pounds Skinless, Boneless Chicken Thighs
  • Salt And Ground Black Pepper To Taste
  • 1 Bulb Fennel, Cut Into 1/4-Inch Thick Slivers
  • 1 White Onion, Cut Into 1/4-Inch Thick Slivers
  • 4 Cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1 Tablespoon Chopped Fresh Thyme
  • 1 Dried Chile De Arbol Pepper
  • 1/2 Cup White Wine Vinegar
  • 1 (28 Ounce) Can Whole Peeled Tomatoes In Puree
  • 1/2 Cup Pitted And Halved Green Olives
  • 2 Tablespoons Chopped Fennel Greens (optional)
  • 2 Tablespoons Chopped Fresh Flat-Leaf Parsley
  • 1 Teaspoon Lemon Zest

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large, heavy cast-iron skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season chicken thighs with salt and black pepper. Brown chicken in the hot oil, about 5 minutes per side. Meat will still be pink inside. Transfer chicken into a bowl, leaving drippings in skillet.
  3. Turn heat down to medium; cook fennel, onion, and fennel seeds in the hot oil, stirring occasionally, until onion and fennel begin to caramelize, about 10 minutes. Stir garlic, thyme, and chile de arbol pepper into fennel mixture. Cook until garlic is fragrant, about 1 more minute. Stir white wine into fennel mixture, scraping up and dissolving any browned bits of food on the bottom of the skillet.
  4. Pour tomatoes with puree into skillet and bring to a boil. Break tomatoes into large chunks with a wooden spoon; adjust salt and pepper. Add chicken thighs, any accumulated drippings from chicken, and olives to the skillet and stir to combine.
  5. Bake uncovered in the preheated oven until the chicken thighs are no longer pink inside, about 45 minutes. Let cool 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with fennel greens, flat-leaf parsley, and lemon zest.
  6. Serve with roasted Seasonal vegetables and biscuits.

Diva Rambling: Stop the Gossip…

In my ongoing efforts to be a better Cronista, I read this article to remind myself that words do hurt! You may take a couple of days to digest this one for yourself.  Then I’ll publish the 6 tips to avoid the gossip addiction.  I am particularly thankful to Sally Kempton at: 
https://www.yogajournal.com/yoga-101/6-ways-to-stop-yourself-from-gossiping-and-why-it-matters   for giving us all these wise words to ponder.  Namaste, The Queen Cronista

6 Steps to Stop Gossiping + Why It Matters 

Gossip can cause trouble in your inner life as well as your outer life. Here’s how to rein it in.

Mullah Nasruddin, the famous Middle Eastern trickster figure, once—so the story goes—took a pilgrimage with a priest and a yogi. On this spiritual journey, they were inspired to purify themselves through mutual confession. They decided to confess to each other their most embarrassing ethical lapse. “I had an affair with my assistant,” said the yogi. “I once embezzled 10,000 rupees from the church,” said the priest. Nasruddin was silent. Finally, the others said, “Come on, Mullah, it’s your turn!”

Nasruddin said, “I didn’t know how to tell you, holy brothers. But my worst sin is that I’m a compulsive gossip!” This fable cuts right to the swampy heart of human nature. Most of us, if we’re honest with ourselves, will admit that we’ve been on both sides of the gossip aisle. I certainly have. I’ve been the one who confided an embarrassing secret to a trusted friend, only to discover a month later that it had gone viral. I’ve also, to my shame, been the one who couldn’t resist sharing a juicy bit of information, even when it meant betraying a confidence.

Gossip is one of our most widely shared—and, often, most unconscious—addictions. People rarely consider themselves gossip addicts, even when they’re filling the empty spaces in conversation with tales about mutual acquaintances. Someone like Adrian, who’ll leave a message on your voice mailwith the entire story behind John’s recent firing—now, he’s a gossip. And so is Susan, who considers anything you say to be fair game for her blog. But is that kind of compulsive sharing the same as your natural desire to talk to your sister about whether your other sister’s boyfriend is right for her? Or the pleasure you take in hashing over a public figure’s marital problems?

Maybe not. Yet, if you were to spend a day noticing how you talk about other people, you might begin to recognize a slightly compulsive quality in your desire to share the news. Maybe you do it to be entertaining or to lighten the atmosphere. Maybe your impulse is purely social, a way of bonding with others. But anyone who’s tried to stop gossiping usually finds out that it isn’t an easy habit to break. And that should tell you something about why the great yogic and spiritual traditions are so down on it. Any real yogic journey, any journey to spiritual maturity, will at some point demand that you learn to observe your own tendency to gossip, and then to control it.

Of course, only a committed hermit can completely abstain from talking about other people. After all, if we didn’t gossip, what would we talk about? Public policy? Yogic principles? Well, yes, but all the time? The evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar maintains that the gossip instinct is basically hardwired in us, and that language evolved because early humans needed to talk about each other in order to survive as social groups. He also reports having conducted a study on workplace sociability in which he and his colleagues found that 65 percent of the conversation in the office was people talking about—you guessed it—themselves or someone else. His point: We can’t help gossiping. What makes gossip problematic is not that we do it, but how and why we do it. Some kinds of gossip help grease the wheels of human interaction and contribute to human delight. Other types of gossip are more like junk food for the mind. And then there’s the nasty gossip—the kind that creates rifts between people, wrecks reputations, and even breaks up communities.

So, how do we tell the difference between good gossip and harmful gossip? When is gossip helpful, or at least harmless? And how can we engage in the harmless kind without stepping over the line?

Good Gossip: Understand the Nuances of the Human Drama

Gossip has three important social functions. First, it facilitates the informal exchange of information. Dunbar points out that gossip is indispensable to the running of institutions. In a university, or a yoga studio, students informally rate the teachers. When you’re trying to find a teacher, or get to know a new person, you ask around and find out what different people say about him. Is George someone I should work with? What did so-and-so really think of the meeting?

Gossip is also, for better or worse, a form of social monitoring. It’s one way society keeps its members in line. If a person or institution behaves erratically or unethically, people will start talking about it. The evolutionary psychologists describe this as the social need to control “free riders”—that is, those who contribute less than they take. The idea is that the fear of word getting out may keep people from, say, abusing their family members or exploiting their employees.

But my favorite argument for the usefulness of gossip is that it gives us insight into other human beings and helps us understand the nuances of the human drama. God loves stories, says a Hasidic proverb, and so do the rest of us. When you talk about other people, you often do it partly from the love of a tale and partly in a genuine spirit of inquiry, a desire to unravel the mystery of another person. Why do you think he said that? What does her behavior teach me about what to do and what not to do? Is that just the way he talks to people, or does he have something against me?

Bad-Mouthing: How to Identify Good vs. Bad Gossip

But then, of course, you step over the line. The good story becomes just too irresistible, and you find yourself offering up a detail you know a friend would not want shared, or saying, “Yes, that’s what I love about Ned, but doesn’t this other thing about him drive you nuts?”

When you’re addicted to gossip, even harmless gossip can be a slippery slope. Have you ever hung up after a gossipy phone conversation feeling wasted, as though you’d lost energy and time? Or felt depressed after lunch with a friend, realizing that you spent your time on tidbits of idle news and speculation—but missed the opportunity to connect in a more intimate way? Have you ever spent an hour dissecting Jeff’s character and then felt guilty the next time you saw him? So-called idle gossip can easily tip over into snarky put-downs, or sarcasm, or a recitation of your grievances against the person you’re talking about.

One sure way to know you’re in the realm of bad or compulsive gossip is by its aftertaste. Good gossip leaves a friendly aftertaste. You feel closer to the person you’ve been talking about, more connected to the world around you. Good gossip feels pleasantly informative, like catching up on old friends. It doesn’t leave you feeling out of sorts, angry, or jealous.

I first began considering these questions several years ago, after a series of conversations with my friend S. She and I were taking a walk when she began to share her dissatisfaction with another friend, whom I’ll call Fran. Fran is someone I’ve always loved and respected. She’s generous, smart, and fun, and she goes out of her way to help others. Of course, like most of us, she has her foibles, but certainly nothing that diminishes her essential attractiveness and good nature.

S and I started out talking about how much we liked Fran. But then S mentioned she was having a hard time working with Fran, that she found Fran to be careless about details and selfish about sharing. I realized that S was using our conversation cathartically, trying to work through some of her anger at her friend. So I tried to take a more or less objective perspective, defending Fran while doing my best to “help” S work through her feelings. Only in hindsight did it occur to me to suggest that S discuss these things with Fran herself rather than bad-mouthing Fran to me. For the next few months, S rarely let a lunch or a walk go by without a comment about our mutual friend. After a while, I stopped defending Fran. In fact, for a while I stopped seeing so much of her. Instead of a friend I adored, Fran had become someone I didn’t quite respect. Not because I had had any negative experience of her, but because I had allowed myself to get pickled in someone else’s negative gossip. That was when I began to consider how deeply other people’s words can skew our opinions and even our feelings for a friend, teacher, or colleague.

See also Deepak Chopra’s 4-Step Mindful Practice to Enrich Your Life

Stop the Spread: Harmful Speech and How to Avoid It

Yoga circles are like other communities: perfect arenas for newsgathering. Like other communities, they offer endless opportunities for spreading rumors. A spicy secret will sometimes start a game of telephone, in which slight distortions mount up, and by the time the story has made the rounds, it often bears only the slightest relationship to the truth. So when someone tells you that X is mean to people, or is having private meltdowns at odds with her public image, or inflating his credentials, you never really know if it’s exaggerated or downright false. And even if the story is true, there’s the deeper and equally serious question of how much harm you would cause by spreading it.

In some situations you definitely have a responsibility to say what you know about another person. If Amanda is going out with a guy known for his Don Juan complex, she might appreciate your passing the information on to her, especially if you preface it by saying, “I heard” or “Someone told me that…” rather than claiming it as absolute truth. When you know that the person Loren is considering going to work for cheats or abuses employees, you should tell him. But many tales, rumors, opinions, and even facts don’t need to be passed on to others.

That’s the point made in the Buddhist Lojong precept “Don’t speak ill of others’ injured limbs.” In the Jewish tradition, there is a specific prohibition against spreading negative information that is true.

This is the core of the ethical issue: Most of us wouldn’t knowingly repeat false information about someone else. But we don’t have the same prohibition against repeating something that happens to be true—even if it could cause deep and unnecessary damage if it got around.

Harmful speech, as defined in Buddhism and other traditions, is anything you communicate that could needlessly and pointlessly hurt others. It’s a fairly broad category, since we don’t even have to use words to comment on someone’s missteps or character foibles. The eye roll you give behind Larry’s back. The sarcastic or condescending tone you use to damn with faint praise (“Jim is such a cool guy”—said in a tone that conveys that Jim is exactly the opposite!).

This kind of gossip is like a triple-bladed ax. When you speak harshly of George—even if what you say is more or less true—you will probably affect the way other people think of him. But you will also make it hard for other people to trust you. As a Spanish proverb goes: “He who gossips with you will also gossip about you.”

The third edge of negative gossip is what it does to your own mind. I no longer see S—partly because I’m afraid of what she might say about me, but also because I always came away from our encounters feeling unsettled.

Negative gossip leaves an especially nasty aftertaste, whether you speak it or hear it. That aftertaste is the inner karmic effect of gossip, and it’s a useful indication that your words or tone have done some damage to the delicate fabric of your own consciousness. On the subtle level, you cannot direct negativity toward someone else without having it hurt you. Even so-called idle gossip can leave a painful residue, especially if you’re sensitive to the nuances of your inner state. Try reading an entire issue of Us Weekly, and then notice the feeling state in your mind. Isn’t there a subtle agitation, a feeling of vague discontent, a disturbance in the force field of your own consciousness?

Kick the Habit: Make Your Conversations Count

Perhaps you suspect that you’re a little bit addicted to gossip. If you want to change a gossip habit, it’s a good idea to start by taking an honest look at what you get out of it and what motivation lies behind your impulse. Part of the thrill of gossip—any gossip—is simply the pleasure of being in on a secret. With negative gossip, there’s another hook: It’s comforting to feel that you’re not the only person who makes mistakes, suffers losses, fails. Somehow, knowing that Jennifer Aniston got dumped makes you feel a little better about your own painful breakup.

Talking about other people can also be a way to avoid looking at something difficult or painful in yourself. A woman on a family vacation found herself complaining about her sister-in-law’s casual parenting style. Only later did she realize that her sister-in-law’s way of handling the kids had brought up her own insecurities about parenting, and that she’d used gossip as a way of keeping her maternal insecurity at bay.

It’s not always an easy thing to admit, but behind most negative gossip, especially when it’s about friends, relatives, or colleagues, is some form of jealousy. The German word schadenfreude describes one of the more shadowy aspects of human nature—the tendency to take just the tiniest degree of pleasure in another person’s misfortune. Gossip is a way of getting that feeling. Maybe you have a moment of slight satisfaction in hearing that a college friend was left by his wife, or that a professional colleague was passed over for a promotion. Nearly always, this feeling comes up when the other person is a peer and, thus, a hook for your sibling issues or your projected negative feelings about yourself. In other words, when there’s jealousy.

Most human beings have some insecurity about the amount of abundance that’s available in the world. Most of us also tend to measure ourselves against our peers. Sometimes, we even feel that another person’s success takes something away from us. That’s when we might find ourselves resorting to gossip as a political or social weapon to neutralize rivals, especially if we feel that they take up space in the world that we’d like to have ourselves.

Perhaps the darkest reason behind gossiping is a desire for, to put it bluntly, getting even. A lover leaves you. A teacher dismisses you from class or criticizes you more sharply than usual. You have a fight with a friend. You’re hurt or angry, and you don’t feel that you can clear it up by talking to the person with whom you’re upset. When you share the story, you discharge some of the pain. Of course, talking to a friend about your heartbreak or confusion can be genuinely cathartic: One reason you need friends is to have someone who’ll listen when you’re in emotional turmoil!

But there is a line between cathartic sharing and vengeful gossip. You know you’ve crossed it when you find yourself sharing only your side of the story. You exaggerate a little bit. You paint the person’s behavior as more unfair or cruel than it actually was. You don’t reveal that you had been making sotto voce wisecracks in the teacher’s class, or that you had spent years dumping criticism onto the friend who no longer wants to see you, or that your “unfaithful” ex-boyfriend had made it clear when you began dating that he didn’t want to commit to being in an exclusive relationship.

Instead, you impute dishonest or unethical motives to the other person, bring in gossip you’ve heard from others, theorize about their possible pathologies. “She’s a clinical narcissist,” someone says about a friend who refused to become a lover. “He has horrible boundary problems,” a man says about his former teaching partner. We do this, consciously or not, with the intention of getting the person we’re talking with to share our anger and validate our own feelings.

This is seventh-grade behavior, of course, but that’s not to negate its seriousness. This is the kind of gossip that starts feuds, creates wedges in spiritual communities, and dissolves reputations. A man I know is still dealing with the fallout from the breakup of his marriage. His wife had not wanted to break up. When he insisted, she mobilized all her friends and circulated a letter on the Internet in which she accused him of infidelity, of abusing his kids, and of failing to credit sources in his work. At no point in the letter did she mention her own contributions to the failure of the marriage. The stories have been picked up and spread through blogs, tweets, and word of mouth. As a result, many of the man’s students and friends no longer trust him.

We all gossip. We all listen to gossip. But it is possible, if you’re willing to exercise awareness, to begin to discriminate about how and when you do it. Like wine or chocolate, which can be good for you in measured doses, gossip can be delightful—but only when you are honest with yourself about what you’re saying and what its effect might be.

Obviously, you can’t cut out all conversation about other people, and you don’t have to. Instead, you can make your conversations more conscious, more disciplined, more measured. You can contemplate exactly why you sometimes feel compelled to bad-mouth a friend, or to spread a rumor that might cause harm. You can look into the feeling of emptiness that often lurks behind the urge to fill spaces in a conversation with gossip. And you can consider whether one of the greatest fruits of our practice is the ability to remain silent, even when you’re dying to share a piece of juicy gossip or justify your dissatisfaction with a friend.

Gossip can cause trouble in your inner life as well as your outer life. Here’s how to rein it in.

Mullah Nasruddin, the famous Middle Eastern trickster figure, once—so the story goes—took a pilgrimage with a priest and a yogi. On this spiritual journey, they were inspired to purify themselves through mutual confession. They decided to confess to each other their most embarrassing ethical lapse. “I had an affair with my assistant,” said the yogi. “I once embezzled 10,000 rupees from the church,” said the priest. Nasruddin was silent. Finally, the others said, “Come on, Mullah, it’s your turn!”

Nasruddin said, “I didn’t know how to tell you, holy brothers. But my worst sin is that I’m a compulsive gossip!” This fable cuts right to the swampy heart of human nature. Most of us, if we’re honest with ourselves, will admit that we’ve been on both sides of the gossip aisle. I certainly have. I’ve been the one who confided an embarrassing secret to a trusted friend, only to discover a month later that it had gone viral. I’ve also, to my shame, been the one who couldn’t resist sharing a juicy bit of information, even when it meant betraying a confidence.

Gossip is one of our most widely shared—and, often, most unconscious—addictions. People rarely consider themselves gossip addicts, even when they’re filling the empty spaces in conversation with tales about mutual acquaintances. Someone like Adrian, who’ll leave a message on your voice mailwith the entire story behind John’s recent firing—now, he’s a gossip. And so is Susan, who considers anything you say to be fair game for her blog. But is that kind of compulsive sharing the same as your natural desire to talk to your sister about whether your other sister’s boyfriend is right for her? Or the pleasure you take in hashing over a public figure’s marital problems?

Maybe not. Yet, if you were to spend a day noticing how you talk about other people, you might begin to recognize a slightly compulsive quality in your desire to share the news. Maybe you do it to be entertaining or to lighten the atmosphere. Maybe your impulse is purely social, a way of bonding with others. But anyone who’s tried to stop gossiping usually finds out that it isn’t an easy habit to break. And that should tell you something about why the great yogic and spiritual traditions are so down on it. Any real yogic journey, any journey to spiritual maturity, will at some point demand that you learn to observe your own tendency to gossip, and then to control it.

Of course, only a committed hermit can completely abstain from talking about other people. After all, if we didn’t gossip, what would we talk about? Public policy? Yogic principles? Well, yes, but all the time? The evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar maintains that the gossip instinct is basically hardwired in us, and that language evolved because early humans needed to talk about each other in order to survive as social groups. He also reports having conducted a study on workplace sociability in which he and his colleagues found that 65 percent of the conversation in the office was people talking about—you guessed it—themselves or someone else. His point: We can’t help gossiping. What makes gossip problematic is not that we do it, but how and why we do it. Some kinds of gossip help grease the wheels of human interaction and contribute to human delight. Other types of gossip are more like junk food for the mind. And then there’s the nasty gossip—the kind that creates rifts between people, wrecks reputations, and even breaks up communities.

So, how do we tell the difference between good gossip and harmful gossip? When is gossip helpful, or at least harmless? And how can we engage in the harmless kind without stepping over the line?

Good Gossip: Understand the Nuances of the Human Drama

Gossip has three important social functions. First, it facilitates the informal exchange of information. Dunbar points out that gossip is indispensable to the running of institutions. In a university, or a yoga studio, students informally rate the teachers. When you’re trying to find a teacher, or get to know a new person, you ask around and find out what different people say about him. Is George someone I should work with? What did so-and-so really think of the meeting?

Gossip is also, for better or worse, a form of social monitoring. It’s one way society keeps its members in line. If a person or institution behaves erratically or unethically, people will start talking about it. The evolutionary psychologists describe this as the social need to control “free riders”—that is, those who contribute less than they take. The idea is that the fear of word getting out may keep people from, say, abusing their family members or exploiting their employees.

But my favorite argument for the usefulness of gossip is that it gives us insight into other human beings and helps us understand the nuances of the human drama. God loves stories, says a Hasidic proverb, and so do the rest of us. When you talk about other people, you often do it partly from the love of a tale and partly in a genuine spirit of inquiry, a desire to unravel the mystery of another person. Why do you think he said that? What does her behavior teach me about what to do and what not to do? Is that just the way he talks to people, or does he have something against me?

Bad-Mouthing: How to Identify Good vs. Bad Gossip

But then, of course, you step over the line. The good story becomes just too irresistible, and you find yourself offering up a detail you know a friend would not want shared, or saying, “Yes, that’s what I love about Ned, but doesn’t this other thing about him drive you nuts?”

When you’re addicted to gossip, even harmless gossip can be a slippery slope. Have you ever hung up after a gossipy phone conversation feeling wasted, as though you’d lost energy and time? Or felt depressed after lunch with a friend, realizing that you spent your time on tidbits of idle news and speculation—but missed the opportunity to connect in a more intimate way? Have you ever spent an hour dissecting Jeff’s character and then felt guilty the next time you saw him? So-called idle gossip can easily tip over into snarky put-downs, or sarcasm, or a recitation of your grievances against the person you’re talking about.

One sure way to know you’re in the realm of bad or compulsive gossip is by its aftertaste. Good gossip leaves a friendly aftertaste. You feel closer to the person you’ve been talking about, more connected to the world around you. Good gossip feels pleasantly informative, like catching up on old friends. It doesn’t leave you feeling out of sorts, angry, or jealous.

I first began considering these questions several years ago, after a series of conversations with my friend S. She and I were taking a walk when she began to share her dissatisfaction with another friend, whom I’ll call Fran. Fran is someone I’ve always loved and respected. She’s generous, smart, and fun, and she goes out of her way to help others. Of course, like most of us, she has her foibles, but certainly nothing that diminishes her essential attractiveness and good nature.

S and I started out talking about how much we liked Fran. But then S mentioned she was having a hard time working with Fran, that she found Fran to be careless about details and selfish about sharing. I realized that S was using our conversation cathartically, trying to work through some of her anger at her friend. So I tried to take a more or less objective perspective, defending Fran while doing my best to “help” S work through her feelings. Only in hindsight did it occur to me to suggest that S discuss these things with Fran herself rather than bad-mouthing Fran to me. For the next few months, S rarely let a lunch or a walk go by without a comment about our mutual friend. After a while, I stopped defending Fran. In fact, for a while I stopped seeing so much of her. Instead of a friend I adored, Fran had become someone I didn’t quite respect. Not because I had had any negative experience of her, but because I had allowed myself to get pickled in someone else’s negative gossip. That was when I began to consider how deeply other people’s words can skew our opinions and even our feelings for a friend, teacher, or colleague.

See also Deepak Chopra’s 4-Step Mindful Practice to Enrich Your Life

Stop the Spread: Harmful Speech and How to Avoid It

Yoga circles are like other communities: perfect arenas for newsgathering. Like other communities, they offer endless opportunities for spreading rumors. A spicy secret will sometimes start a game of telephone, in which slight distortions mount up, and by the time the story has made the rounds, it often bears only the slightest relationship to the truth. So when someone tells you that X is mean to people, or is having private meltdowns at odds with her public image, or inflating his credentials, you never really know if it’s exaggerated or downright false. And even if the story is true, there’s the deeper and equally serious question of how much harm you would cause by spreading it.

In some situations you definitely have a responsibility to say what you know about another person. If Amanda is going out with a guy known for his Don Juan complex, she might appreciate your passing the information on to her, especially if you preface it by saying, “I heard” or “Someone told me that…” rather than claiming it as absolute truth. When you know that the person Loren is considering going to work for cheats or abuses employees, you should tell him. But many tales, rumors, opinions, and even facts don’t need to be passed on to others.

That’s the point made in the Buddhist Lojong precept “Don’t speak ill of others’ injured limbs.” In the Jewish tradition, there is a specific prohibition against spreading negative information that is true.

This is the core of the ethical issue: Most of us wouldn’t knowingly repeat false information about someone else. But we don’t have the same prohibition against repeating something that happens to be true—even if it could cause deep and unnecessary damage if it got around.

Harmful speech, as defined in Buddhism and other traditions, is anything you communicate that could needlessly and pointlessly hurt others. It’s a fairly broad category, since we don’t even have to use words to comment on someone’s missteps or character foibles. The eye roll you give behind Larry’s back. The sarcastic or condescending tone you use to damn with faint praise (“Jim is such a cool guy”—said in a tone that conveys that Jim is exactly the opposite!).

This kind of gossip is like a triple-bladed ax. When you speak harshly of George—even if what you say is more or less true—you will probably affect the way other people think of him. But you will also make it hard for other people to trust you. As a Spanish proverb goes: “He who gossips with you will also gossip about you.”

The third edge of negative gossip is what it does to your own mind. I no longer see S—partly because I’m afraid of what she might say about me, but also because I always came away from our encounters feeling unsettled.

Negative gossip leaves an especially nasty aftertaste, whether you speak it or hear it. That aftertaste is the inner karmic effect of gossip, and it’s a useful indication that your words or tone have done some damage to the delicate fabric of your own consciousness. On the subtle level, you cannot direct negativity toward someone else without having it hurt you. Even so-called idle gossip can leave a painful residue, especially if you’re sensitive to the nuances of your inner state. Try reading an entire issue of Us Weekly, and then notice the feeling state in your mind. Isn’t there a subtle agitation, a feeling of vague discontent, a disturbance in the force field of your own consciousness?

Kick the Habit: Make Your Conversations Count

Perhaps you suspect that you’re a little bit addicted to gossip. If you want to change a gossip habit, it’s a good idea to start by taking an honest look at what you get out of it and what motivation lies behind your impulse. Part of the thrill of gossip—any gossip—is simply the pleasure of being in on a secret. With negative gossip, there’s another hook: It’s comforting to feel that you’re not the only person who makes mistakes, suffers losses, fails. Somehow, knowing that Jennifer Aniston got dumped makes you feel a little better about your own painful breakup.

Talking about other people can also be a way to avoid looking at something difficult or painful in yourself. A woman on a family vacation found herself complaining about her sister-in-law’s casual parenting style. Only later did she realize that her sister-in-law’s way of handling the kids had brought up her own insecurities about parenting, and that she’d used gossip as a way of keeping her maternal insecurity at bay.

It’s not always an easy thing to admit, but behind most negative gossip, especially when it’s about friends, relatives, or colleagues, is some form of jealousy. The German word schadenfreude describes one of the more shadowy aspects of human nature—the tendency to take just the tiniest degree of pleasure in another person’s misfortune. Gossip is a way of getting that feeling. Maybe you have a moment of slight satisfaction in hearing that a college friend was left by his wife, or that a professional colleague was passed over for a promotion. Nearly always, this feeling comes up when the other person is a peer and, thus, a hook for your sibling issues or your projected negative feelings about yourself. In other words, when there’s jealousy.

Most human beings have some insecurity about the amount of abundance that’s available in the world. Most of us also tend to measure ourselves against our peers. Sometimes, we even feel that another person’s success takes something away from us. That’s when we might find ourselves resorting to gossip as a political or social weapon to neutralize rivals, especially if we feel that they take up space in the world that we’d like to have ourselves.

Perhaps the darkest reason behind gossiping is a desire for, to put it bluntly, getting even. A lover leaves you. A teacher dismisses you from class or criticizes you more sharply than usual. You have a fight with a friend. You’re hurt or angry, and you don’t feel that you can clear it up by talking to the person with whom you’re upset. When you share the story, you discharge some of the pain. Of course, talking to a friend about your heartbreak or confusion can be genuinely cathartic: One reason you need friends is to have someone who’ll listen when you’re in emotional turmoil!

But there is a line between cathartic sharing and vengeful gossip. You know you’ve crossed it when you find yourself sharing only your side of the story. You exaggerate a little bit. You paint the person’s behavior as more unfair or cruel than it actually was. You don’t reveal that you had been making sotto voce wisecracks in the teacher’s class, or that you had spent years dumping criticism onto the friend who no longer wants to see you, or that your “unfaithful” ex-boyfriend had made it clear when you began dating that he didn’t want to commit to being in an exclusive relationship.

Instead, you impute dishonest or unethical motives to the other person, bring in gossip you’ve heard from others, theorize about their possible pathologies. “She’s a clinical narcissist,” someone says about a friend who refused to become a lover. “He has horrible boundary problems,” a man says about his former teaching partner. We do this, consciously or not, with the intention of getting the person we’re talking with to share our anger and validate our own feelings.

This is seventh-grade behavior, of course, but that’s not to negate its seriousness. This is the kind of gossip that starts feuds, creates wedges in spiritual communities, and dissolves reputations. A man I know is still dealing with the fallout from the breakup of his marriage. His wife had not wanted to break up. When he insisted, she mobilized all her friends and circulated a letter on the Internet in which she accused him of infidelity, of abusing his kids, and of failing to credit sources in his work. At no point in the letter did she mention her own contributions to the failure of the marriage. The stories have been picked up and spread through blogs, tweets, and word of mouth. As a result, many of the man’s students and friends no longer trust him.

We all gossip. We all listen to gossip. But it is possible, if you’re willing to exercise awareness, to begin to discriminate about how and when you do it. Like wine or chocolate, which can be good for you in measured doses, gossip can be delightful—but only when you are honest with yourself about what you’re saying and what its effect might be.

Obviously, you can’t cut out all conversation about other people, and you don’t have to. Instead, you can make your conversations more conscious, more disciplined, more measured. You can contemplate exactly why you sometimes feel compelled to bad-mouth a friend, or to spread a rumor that might cause harm. You can look into the feeling of emptiness that often lurks behind the urge to fill spaces in a conversation with gossip. And you can consider whether one of the greatest fruits of our practice is the ability to remain silent, even when you’re dying to share a piece of juicy gossip or justify your dissatisfaction with a friend.

Diva Tasting: Caprese Portobellos…

CAPRESE STUFFED GARLIC BUTTER PORTOBELLOS 

Now… garlic butter smothered portobello mushrooms stuffed and grilled with fresh mozzarella cheese, grape tomato slices, and drizzled with a rich balsamic glaze!

Serves: 5­6

Ingredients

Garlic Butter

2 Tablespoons Butter

2 Cloves Garlic, Crushed

1 Tablespoon Freshly Chopped Parsley

Mushrooms: 5­6 Large Portobello Mushrooms, Stem Removed, Washed And Dried With A Paper Towel

5-­6 Fresh Mozzarella Cheese Balls, Sliced Thinly

1 Cup Grape (or Cherry) Tomatoes,

Sliced Thinly Fresh Basil, Shredded To Garnish

Balsamic Glaze:

(or You Can Use Store Bought, Or This Recipe)

¼ Cup Balsamic Vinegar

1 Teaspoons Brown Sugar (OPTIONAL)

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to grill/broil settings on high heat. Arrange oven shelf to the middle of your oven. 2. Combine all of the Garlic Butter ingredients together in a small saucepan (or microwave safe bowl), and melt until garlic is fragrant. Brush the bottoms of each mushroom and place them, buttered side down, on a baking tray. 3. Flip and brush any remaining garlic over the insides of each cap. Fill each mushroom with the mozzarella slices and tomatoes, and grill/broil until cheese has melted and golden in color (about 8 minutes). 4. To serve, top with the basil, drizzle with the balsamic glaze and sprinkle with salt to taste. For the Balsamic Glaze: 1. (If making from scratch, prepare while mushrooms are in the oven.) Combine sugar (if using) and vinegar in a small saucepan over high heat and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low; allow to simmer for 5­8 minutes or until mixture has thickened and reduced to a glaze. (If not using sugar, allow to reduce for 12­-15

Diva Musing: Bacon!!!!!!!

The joy of every Southern Cook is bacon in a recipe.  This is the cleaner way I like to do mine….Namaste, The Queen Cronista

Oven Bacon is Best Thank you Allrecipe.com

Why Cook Bacon in the Oven?

So much win, we have to count the ways:

  1. Cook a whole pound of bacon at one time in just minutes
  2. Baked bacon cooks flat and doesn’t curl up
  3. No need to turn the bacon
  4. No grease burns on your skin
  5. No grease stains on your clothes
  6. No grease splatters all over your stove
  7. Free up space on your stovetop for other foods
  8. Super-easy cleanup
  9. Baking makes it possible to make candied bacon
  10. Bacon is it’s own best reason to cook bacon

How to Cook Bacon in the Oven

Adapted from The Easiest Way to Cook Bacon
Ingredients
1 pound thick-cut bacon

Equipment
Large rimmed baking sheet
Aluminum foil
Baking rack (Optional: Cooking the bacon on a rack makes the bacon crisper, and lets the grease drip off the bacon as it cooks.)

Directions
1. Preheat your oven to 400° F. You won’t be broiling the bacon, so put your oven rack in the middle of your oven to distribute the heat evenly.
1. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil. Make sure the foil extends up the sides of the pan so it captures all the bacon grease and clean-up is easier.
2. Arrange bacon strips directly on the foil. It’s okay if the bacon overlaps slightly, because it will shrink slightly as it bakes. OR place the bacon on a rack. Place the baking pan in the oven.
3. Cook bacon for 10 to 20 minutes, depending on how chewy or crispy you like your bacon.
4. Transfer cooked bacon to a paper towel-lined platter. The extra grease will be absorbed by the paper towels, and the bacon will crisp up a bit as it cools. You can then transfer it to a clean plate to serve.

Notes From Home Cooks

  • No baking rack? No problem. Line the baking sheet, then crumple up some more foil and lay the bacon on that to hold it up out of the grease.
  • Your baking time may differ. No two ovens bake at exactly the same temperature. You’ll probably need to do this a few times to find the right time/temperature that works for you.
  • Prevent oven splatters. This from Cindy Capps Lepp: Lay a layer of foil over the bacon; this will keep grease from spitting all over the oven. Remove the foil for the last few minutes of cooking for “final crisping.”
  • Clean up is a snap. Just let the bacon grease cool in the pan (save it if you want), then roll up the aluminum foil and toss it.

Diva Tasting: Breakfast/Dessert Fritter Cobbler….

Fritter Delight Cobbler

Ingredients

  • 12 Apple Fritters
  • 1 (14 Ounce) Can Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 4 Eggs, Beaten
  • 1 (29 Ounce) Can Sliced Peaches, Not Drained
  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 1 Pinch Salt
  • ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
  • 1/2 Cup Butter, Melted
  • 1 (16 Ounce) Package Confectioners’ Sugar
  • 2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract

Directions

  1. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9×13 inch baking dish, and set aside.
  2. Tear the fritters into bite-size pieces, and place them in a large bowl. Pour in the sweetened condensed milk, eggs, peaches with juice, cinnamon, and salt, and mix. Spoon the mixture into the greased baking dish.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
  4. While the cobbler is baking, make a glaze by combining the melted butter, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla extract in a bowl. Stir until smooth. Drizzle the glaze over the baked cobbler. (glaze optional)

Diva Musing…. Healing Herbs for The Garden…

I’m on a health kick as we continue to plant our gardens.  I’m a firm believer in alternative healing physical and medicine.  Whether it is holistic, Ayurveda; Native American, Shamanic or Oriental.  They all lend wonderful healing to the world.  God’s pharmacy as I like to call it.  Study, discern, listen to your body….Heal!!  

Namaste, The Queen Cronista

P.S. this one did not convert as hoped but the website is there for your review….

http://www.healthy-holistic-living.com/plants-for-healing.html?t=HHL

11 Powerful Native American Medicinal Cures
The Cherokee is a Native American tribe that is indigenous to the Southeastern United States. They believe that the Creator has given them a gift of understanding and preserving medicinal herbs. The Cherokee trust the healing and preventative properties of nature’s pharmacy. Because many plants become scarce throughout history, the Cherokee promote proper gathering techniques.

  • The Cherokee is a Native American tribe that is indigenous to the Southeastern United States. They believe that the Creator has given them a gift of understanding and preserving medicinal herbs. The Cherokee trust the healing and preventative properties of nature’s pharmacy. Because many plants become scarce throughout history, the Cherokee promote proper gathering techniques.

The old ones have taught them that if you are gathering, you should only pick every third plant you find. This ensures that enough specimens remain and will continue to propagate. Here are some of the medicinal plants that were commonly used and foraged for by the Cherokee tribe. 

11 Medicinal Plants For Healing

1. Blackberry

To the Cherokee, the blackberry is the longest known remedy to an upset stomach. However, this herb can be used for just about anything. Using a strong tea from the root of blackberry helps to reduce swelling of tissue and joints. A decoction of the roots, sweetened with honey or maple syrup, makes an excellent cough syrup. Even chewing on the leaves of blackberry can soothe bleeding gums. (source)

Some other health benefits of blackberry fruit include

These tasty berries are also incredibly nutritious. Vitamins provided by blackberries include vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, and folate. Blackberries also have an incredible mineral wealth of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, and zinc. They are also an excellent source of dietary fiber and essential amino acids.

2. Hummingbird Blossom (Buck Brush)

The Cherokee has used hummingbird blossom for the treatment of cysts, fibroid tumors, inflammation, and mouth/throat problems. Present day research has concluded that this herb is also ideal for treating high blood pressure and lymphatic blockages. (source)

The Cherokee mainly use hummingbird blossom as a diuretic to stimulate kidney function; however, it was also used to treat conditions such as:

  • Inflamed tonsils

  • Enlarged lymph nodes

  • Enlarged spleens

  • Hemorrhoids

  • Menstrual bleeding. 

To get all of the benefits from hummingbird blossom, the Cherokee would steep the leave and flowers in boiling water for about five minutes then drink the tea while it is still warm.

3. Cattail

The Cherokee consider this herb to not exactly be a healing medicine, but rather a preventative medicine. It is an easily digestible food that can help with recovery from illnesses. Almost every part of this herb, except for the mature leaves and seed heads, can be used for medicinal purposes. The root of cattail is high in starch, and the male plants are high in pollen content.

Cattail root can be prepared much like potatoes, boiled and mashed. The resulting paste is a great remedy for burns and sores. The pollen from cattail is a great source of protein and can be used as a supplement in baking. The fuzz from flowers called the seed down can also be used to prevent skin irritation in babies, such as diaper rash. The flowers of cattail can even be eaten to help with diarrhea.

4. Pull Out a Sticker (Greenbriar)

The roots of this herb are high in starch while the leaves and stems are rich in various vitamins and minerals. Due to the rubbery texture of Greenbriar, its roots can be used like potatoes. The starch in the root of Greenbriar has a harsh, strange taste but is rich in calories.

The Cherokee use Greenbriar as a blood purifier and mild diuretic that treats urinary infections. Many Cherokee healers make an ointment from the leaves and bark and apply it to minor sores and burns. The leaves from this herb can even be used in your tea to treat arthritis! The berries of Greenbrier can be eaten raw or made into jams. They make great vegan jello shots too.

5. Mint

Cherokee is a Native American tribe that is indigenous to the Southeastern United States. They believe that the Creator has given them a gift of understanding and preserving medicinal herbs. The Cherokee trust the healing and preventative properties of nature’s pharmacy. Because many plants become scarce throughout history, the Cherokee promote proper gathering techniques.1.

6. Mullein

This herb has the power to soothe asthma and chest congestion. According to the Cherokee, inhaling the smoke from burning mullein roots and leaves works miracles to calm your lungs and open up pathways. (2Mullein is exceptionally helpful to soothe the mucous membranes.

You can make a warm decoction and soak your feet in it to reduce swelling and joint pain. Due to mullein’s anti-inflammatory properties, it soothes painful and irritated tissue. (3) Mullein flowers can be used to make tea which has mild sedative effects.

7. Qua lo ga (Sumac)

Every single part of this herb can be utilized for medicinal purposes! Sumac bark can be made into a mild decoction that can be taken to soothe diarrhea. The decoction of the bark can also be gargled to help with a sore throat. Ripe berries can make a pleasant beverage that is rich in Vitamin C. (4)

The tea from the leaves of sumac can reduce fevers. You can even crush the leaves into an ointment to help relieve a poison ivy rash. A study published in Iranian Journal of Pharmaceutical Research reported that sumac if added to the daily diet, can help lower cholesterol levels (source).

8. Big Stretch (Wild Ginger)

The Cherokee recommend a mild tea, made from the root of wild ginger, to stimulate better digestion. This herb can also help with intestinal gas, upset stomach, and colic. A strong tea from the root of wild ginger can be used to remove secretion from the lungs. 

The Meskwaki, another Native American tribe, use crushed, steeped stems of wild ginger as a relief from earaches. (5) You can use rootstocks from this herb as a substitute for regular ginger and flowers as the flavoring for your favorite recipe!

10. Squirrel Tail (Yarrow)

This herb is known best for its blood clotting properties. Fresh, crushed leaves can be applied to open wounds to stop excess bleeding. Yarrow’s juice, mixed with spring water, can stop internal bleeding from stomach and intestinal illnesses. You can also use the leaves to make tea which will stimulate abdominal functions and assist in proper digestion. (source)

11. Kawi Iyusdi (Yellow Dock)

The Cherokee often use this herb in their kitchen. It is very similar to spinach but contains a lot more vitamins and minerals due to its long roots that gather nutrients from deep underground. The leaves of yellow dock are a great source of iron and can also be used as a laxative. (11)

You can even prepare a juice decoction out of yellow dock stems from treating minor sores, diaper rash, and itching. The Cherokee healers use a decoction, made from the crushed roots of yellow dock, as a warm wash for its antiseptic properties. (12)

You should always remember that all of the above-mentioned medicinal plants are very potent and might be dangerous if used in the wrong way. The Cherokee healers have many centuries of practice and experience. Another thing to keep in mind is the fact that these herbs are all very valuable! They are the nature’s pharmacy, so please be kind and caring when scavenging any of these.

This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions about your medical condition and/or current medication. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking advice or treatment because of something you have read here.

Sources:

  1. White wolf pack. 12 of Nature’s Most Powerful Medicinal Plants From Traditional Cherokees
    http://www.whitewolfpack.com/2015/09/12-of-natures-most-powerful-medicinal.html   Accessed: January 16, 2017. 

  2. Organic facts. Health benefits of blackberry https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/fruit/blackberries.html Accessed: January 16, 2017

  3. Legends of America. Herbs and healing properties page 2 http://www.legendsofamerica.com/na-herbs2.html Accessed: January 16, 2017

  4. Plants for a future. Ceanothus cuneatus http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Ceanothus+cuneatus Accessed: January 16, 2017

  5. Bio Brandeis. Medicinal plants of the northeast http://www.bio.brandeis.edu/fieldbio/medicinal_plants/pages/Common_Cattail.html Accessed: January 16, 2017. 

  6. Foraging Texas. Greenbrier http://www.foragingtexas.com/2008/08/greenbriar.html Accessed: January 16, 2017. 

  7. Montana Native plans and early peoples. Buckbrush https://books.google.ca/books?hl=en&lr=&id=X9W1VlJmLNEC&oi=fnd&pg=PR11&dq=buckbrush+lymph&ots=JfK2zJZoJo&sig=jIcLJndFcrVE_AWR4MbnhMyVc4w#v=onepage&q&f=false Published: 1976. Accessed: January 16, 2017. 

  8. Medical News today. Mint: Health benefits, uses and risks http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/275944.php Published: February 16, 2016. Accessed: January 16, 2017. 

  9. Heal with food. Sumac- A spice with health benefits http://www.healwithfood.org/health-benefits/sumac-spice-good-for-you.php Accessed: January 16, 2017. 

  10. Mother earth living. Herb to know: wild ginger http://www.motherearthliving.com/plant-profile/an-herb-to-know-wild-ginger.aspx Accessed: January 16, 2017. 

  11. Wild foods and medicine. Wild rose flower http://wildfoodsandmedicines.com/wild-rose-flower/ Accessed: January 16, 2017. 

  12. The Herbal Academy. https://theherbalacademy.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Native-American-Herbal-Medicine-In-a-Piegan-Lodge-Edward-S.-Curtis-Public-domain-via-Wikimedia-Commons.jpg Accessed: January 16, 2017. 

  13. Ascension lifestyle. http://ascensionlifestyle.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/native-smudging-1.jpg Accessed: January 16, 2017. 

  14. Shutterstock. http://image.shutterstock.com/display_pic_with_logo/314083/303773660/stock-photo-cattails-and-reeds-303773660.jpg Accessed: January 16, 2017. 

  15. Vetanat. Morphometric Study on the Digestive System of the Wild Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis).
    http://www.vetanat.com/v15-pdf/5.pdf  Accessed: January 16, 2017. 

  16. NCBI. Rubus fruticosus (blackberry) use as an herbal medicine
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4127818/ Published: 2014. Accessed: January 16, 2017.