Introduction to Mindful Awareness P4

Mindfulness also includes other aspects; curiosity, openness, this willingness to be with what is. You’re going to see the different elements. Often, mindfulness is connected to kindness, compassion, care. There are certain skills that we develop that involve present-time awareness, and you’ll see how mindfulness is deeply connected to them. Yes?


SPEAKER: How does what you’re talking about differ from Buddhist insight meditation?


DIANA: How does this differ from Buddhist insight meditation. Buddhist insight meditation is a big influence on the mindfulness movement, and mindfulness is in many ways derived from that, but it also includes other aspects of things. We can look at mindfulness, seeing what’s present of mindfulness in different other religious traditions, in poetry, in philosophy. In the mindfulness movement, we draw from science. So mindfulness is very much linked to Buddhist insight meditation, but it’s certainly a secularization and drawing from other aspects of things. Yes?


SPEAKER: If you practice it during the daytime, do you get any benefit of better sleep?


DIANA: Who has sleep problems here? Yeah. It’s such a common thing in the culture. People report that mindfulness can help with sleep. We’re actually doing a study right now at UCLA – it’s going to be starting in May, on mindfulness and sleep. There’s been a few studies linking it to improved sleep. Actually, they’re going to be looking for volunteers for that study, so if you’re interested, I’ll give you all the information about our center at the end. You can look into that. Okay, last one.


SPEAKER: I recently started to practice mindfulness, only in the last month or so. The greatest improvement I’ve seen so far is that a long history of insomnia is no more.


DIANA: So here’s living proof right here. The end of her insomnia from a month of practicing mindfulness. How wonderful. Thank you for saying that. Okay, enough talk. Let’s do it. Let’s practice it.


We’re going to do a basic meditation that is the foundational practice of mindfulness, that is something that if you decide you want to go back and do more of, that you would do what we’re doing right now. Just a really simple breath meditation. I’ll teach it to you, I’ll guide you through it. This is the basics of mindfulness to get started.


I just invite you to settle back on your chair. If you’re comfortable, close your eyes. You do not have to meditate with your eyes closed, but it can be quite helpful. If it doesn’t feel comfortable, then leave them open, but have them looking downward with a soft gaze. Your feet should be on the floor; your back upright as much as possible in these chairs, but at the same time being comfortable. So not too rigid, not too tight. Just comfortable. Your hands can be resting wherever is comfortable; on your legs, on the arms of the chair, in your lap. I like to put my tongue on the roof of my mouth, but really whatever is comfortable for you.


Let’s begin by noticing our body present on the chair. This is the first step of being mindful, just bringing our attention into our body, right here, right now. You can notice your feet on the floor, and what that feels like to have your feet on the floor. There’s weight and contact with the floor, vibration and touch and movement. Then notice your legs in the position that they’re in, and then notice where your legs touch the chair. There’s heaviness, pressure, vibration.


As you’re doing this, you’re bringing your mind inside your body, into the present moment. Our bodies are always in the present moment, so can we bring our minds there too? You can notice your back against the chair and what that feels like. Bring your attention into your stomach area, and see if your stomach is tight or tense. If it is, allow it to soften a little bit. You can breathe more deeply into your stomach area. Then notice your hands; are your hands tense or tight? You can allow them to soften. How about your arms and shoulders? Notice them and let them be relaxed. Then notice your jaw and throat and face. Soften your jaw, soften your facial muscles.


Now begin to notice that your body is breathing. Without you having to do anything at all, your body is naturally breathing. See if you can find your breath in your body, and let the breath be natural. Don’t try to elongate or shorten it. You might notice your abdomen area. Can you feel your breath in your abdomen? There’s a rising, falling sensation. Expansion and contraction. How about in your chest area? Can you feel your chest moving up and down? Expanding, contracting, rising, falling. Now notice if you can feel your breath at your nostrils. There’s coolness, heat, tingling. Flow of sensations.


If there’s sound, just let sound be in the background, and try to focus on your breath.


Finding your breath in one of these spots: abdomen, chest, or nostrils. Letting your attention come to rest, choose one. It doesn’t really matter which one you choose. Choose the one that is the most obvious to you or the easiest. Most compelling. See if you can feel one breath at a time. One breath after the next.


As you do this, it’s likely your mind will start to wander. Perhaps all sorts of things will come into your mind, and if that’s the case, you’re not doing anything wrong; it’s actually quite normal. When you notice your mind is wandering, you can say “thinking” or “wandering,” and then very gently bring your attention back to your breathing. So you’re with your breath; you get lost in thought; you might say “thinking,” and come back to your breath. And you get lost in thought again; you notice it, say “thinking,” and then gently come back to your breath.


If you notice you’re sleepy, that’s fine; so if you can be aware of being sleepy. If you’re feeling restless, notice that. Whatever takes you away from your breath, become aware of it, and then come back to the breath.


We’re going to practice this on our own for a few minutes. I’ll be quiet, and you give it a try, with your breath; getting lost, coming back.


No matter how many times your mind gets lost, no matter how many times it goes away from the present moment, you always can start again. Just bring it right back; come back to the breathing.



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Introduction to Mindful Awareness P3

Back to this. The happiness study. One of the findings across all the thousand research studies is that mindfulness creates more happiness. This is what people report: people report that they’re happier once they practice mindfulness. Here’s one of the things they found. They had people beeped on their smart phones. They had 2500 people across the world beeped on their smart phones at random intervals in the day. They asked the people, “What are you doing?” Three questions: “What are you doing?”, “How’s your mood?”, and “Is your mind on what you’re doing?” What people reported was that if their mind was on what they were doing, they reported more happiness.


Even if they were doing things they didn’t like. Let’s say you don’t like doing the dishes. If you’re doing the dishes and you’re unhappy about it, and your mind is thinking about 10 other things you wish you were doing, you’re not too happy. But if you’re doing the dishes, even if you don’t like doing the dishes, but you’re keeping your mind on it, attending to the present moment, you’re happier.


This was repeated. This is what was shown with the study with 2,000 people. The more you can pay attention, the happier you are. He said, “A human mind is a wandering mind, and a wandering mind is an unhappy mind.” That was the quote in Science Journal.


The last little piece I’ll go into is the impact on the brain structure. There’s been a lot of research in the last five, seven years on mindfulness and neuroscience. So they’ve hooked people up to brain scans, to fMRIs, to EEGs, to find out what is going on when people meditate. What they did was they looked at people who were what you might think of as the people who have been in caves for 20, 30 years meditating. These are like the Olympic athletes of meditation. They’ve been doing a lot of meditation. They looked inside their brains, and they saw that these three areas were thicker than people of the same age.


You don’t need to know anything about brain science. I just thought I’d show it to you. But one is the right insula – that’s #1 right inside. The second, the right Brodmann area, and the third is the central blah blah blah, you don’t need to know. It’s a little complex. But what this shows – this area of the brain is the front part of the brain, the prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex is what we might think of as the CEO of our brain. It’s responsible for delayed gratification, for flexible thinking. It’s responsible for regulating body and brain states. This is something you really want. You really want your prefrontal cortex to be online and very active and robust.


What they found, that the people who practiced meditation for 30 years, their prefrontal cortex was thicker than people of the same age. Do you know that as you get older, your brain thins out? Do you know that? Okay. Now if you want something else to worry about, you can worry about that. (laughter) It’s called age-related cortical decline. As you get older, your brain thins out. But if you practice, if you do different things, it’s not going to happen. So the meditators, there was minute structural changes.


You’re listening and you’re thinking, “Great, I don’t know how to meditate.” They looked at this with beginning meditators too, and they saw structural changes in only eight weeks. Very small changes in the brain in these same areas, connected to the prefrontal cortex and also connected to an area related to self-awareness and compassion. Those parts of the brain seemed to be thicker.


I’m not going to go into this too much, but just to say that as we meditate – and whatever you do, your brain can change. So if you practice a skill, at whatever age you are, your brain can change. This is what the science of neuroplasticity can show us. I’m going to go back to this later.


I’m going to end this part of the slideshow by just talking a little personally. Mindfulness, as I said earlier, it’s not something that’s out of the realm of your experience. You’ve done it before, you’ve practiced it maybe. You may not have called it mindfulness, but you’ve had that experience. I have a two-year-old, and I’ve been watching my daughter over these last two years, and this baby, when she was a baby – and now she’s a toddler – is incredibly mindful. Not just my baby, but all children are like that. Have you noticed the way little kids bring this awe and wonder to the world? They’re connected and they’re present and they’re completely in the moment. I see that.


Unfortunately, sometimes it can be annoying, because we’re walking down the street and I’m trying to get from Point A to B, and she wants to do anything. She wants to sit and look at the bug and hang from the fence, and she’ll see that bug and she’ll just go straight for it, and it’s the most interesting, amazing thing in the whole world. You know what I’m talking about, right? With kids? Yeah.


Well, here’s the news: we were like that once too. We were. We were all little kids. What happened? You grew up, you got socialized, you got educated. Lots of things happened. So mindfulness, in some way, is like a return. It’s a return to ourselves. It’s coming back to that part of us that we’ve had since birth, that we lose because life gets in the way in some way. Mindfulness is something – I really think of it as our birthright. We’re going to learn these tools that we’re going to practice together to help us re-access a part of ourselves that is somewhere covered up, but it’s right there. It’s right there for us to find.


Let’s do it. You’re going to turn that off, and I’ve said a lot about mindfulness. Any questions about anything I just said, before we go into the experiential part? Any questions?
SPEAKER: Living in the utmost present – is that what it means, mindfulness?


DIANA: Living in the utmost present? Is that what you said? That’s one aspect of mindfulness. Present moment attention. Yeah, living in the present. I often talk about it as having a particular kind of attention that we bring to the present. Remember I was talking earlier about not being in the past, not being in the future, but really being right here? I think that’s what you’re pointing to. Yeah, absolutely.


SPEAKER: I’m a piano student, and that demands that you live in the present. You can’t go anyplace else when you’re playing the piano.


DIANA: That’s right. She says as a piano student, she knows she has to stay in the present. There’s no choice. You have to stay in the present. There’s certain skills that you’d better stay in the present with. For instance, what if you’re a tightrope walker? You’d better stay in the present, right? There are lots of skills that bring that present moment attention to us.




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Introduction to Mindful Awareness P2

It’s not only a meditation; it can be cultivated through meditation, but it’s also a quality of attention we can bring to any moment in the day. We can bring mindfulness to when we’re driving, to when we’re walking, to when we’re waiting in line, to when we’re about to get in a fight with our spouse. We can take a mindful breath and come back to the present moment. So mindfulness is a kind of attention as well.


(laughter) Does this look familiar to anyone? Yeah, unfortunately, many of us sometimes feel like that. It’s a skill that we can train to reduce stress of the busy modern lives and promote wellbeing. By the way, how many people are stressed out? Raise your hand. A lot of you. Not everybody, and my hat is off to those of you who are not stressed out. How about busy? Who’s busy? Everybody’s busy. We’re very important people. We have a lot to do, don’t we? This woman’s a little over-stressed out.


Mindfulness is a way of counteracting that busyness with a kind of non-doing. There’s so much doing and producing and getting things done and accomplishing in our culture. Mindfulness invites us to just be. We’ve become these human doings instead of human beings. So how do we learn to come back into the present moment and not have to do all the time? When we learn that skill, when we learn to get quiet, when we learn to check into ourselves, it’s a huge antidote in the midst of our busy lives.


Here’s the opposite, maybe, perhaps. I’ll just say that mindfulness is not something that is far out of your experience. It’s something we’ve all had a taste of at various moments in our lives. I’ll just ask you this question: how many of you have spent some time in nature, and when you’re in the midst of nature you feel relaxed, at ease, connected, present? Raise your hand if you’ve had that experience. Yeah. This is it. This is mindfulness. Mindfulness connects us to ourselves. It makes us present here and now. We’ve all had it. It’s not some mystical thing.


How about any of you in the midst of athletic activity, where you’re really in the zone and you’re right there, present with your body? Who’s had that experience? Really connected and present. How about in the midst of artistic endeavor? Music or writing or you’re just with that creative flow. Or what about when you fall in love, if you remember? Being with that person for the first time, the real intensity in being present. You don’t have to raise your hand, but you know what I mean, right? (laughter) You know what I mean. This is a really, really authentic experience that we all have of mindfulness. I just wanted to show you that it’s something you already do and know.


Mindfulness has been brought into health settings and shown that it has a powerful effect on a number of mental and physical health issues. I just listed a few here: cancer, heart disease, arthritis, autoimmune disorders, chronic pain. And then more mental health concerns: depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and a whole host of other things has been studied in the last decade or 15, 20 years.


The last 20 years, the scientific research has shown mindfulness to address various health concerns. Let me talk about these specifically. I’ll give you a couple of the studies, just so you get a sense of what the mindfulness studies are about. One is in the area of physical health, so I listed the conditions that are helped by mindfulness. Generally, stress-related conditions can be impacted by mindfulness, so things like high blood pressure – really helpful to meditate and practice mindfulness – boosting the immune system; increasing the healing response.


I mentioned a study here about psoriasis, what they did with the itchy skin condition that people have. The typical treatment for psoriasis is that people go into what we might think of as tanning booths, where you get UVB light rays projected onto the skin. What was done in one of the research studies was they had some people receive the typical treatment and other people receive the same treatment, but they listened to a mindfulness CD and they practiced along with it. Those people healed three times faster than the people who just received the typical treatment. So this was a very interesting study done a number of years ago, and it’s been replicated and shown to be that mindfulness is quite effective.


Someone was asking earlier about mindfulness and attention and focus. Well yes, it definitely can help with attention, and it has been known to do that. You’ll see. In fact, when we do the practice, which we’ll do in about five minutes or so, you’ll see that one of the aspects of mindfulness is about learning to focus.


We did a study at UCLA about six years ago where we took adolescents and adults and had them go through an eight-week mindfulness training program. These were people with ADHD, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or Attention Deficit Disorder. It was a small pilot study, but what we saw was significant improvement in the ability to pay attention.


There’s different ways to pay attention, but one main way to pay attention is called conflict attention. Conflict attention is when there’s many things competing for your attention, and your mind is being taken all over the place. If you have ADD, it’s really hard to stay focused. So if you’re here in this audience, you might be paying attention to the lights or looking at other things or maybe looking at your phone or something – I don’t know, actually. But with conflict attention, when it’s trained, we learn to stay on one thing.


The people in this study, that improved significantly. So significantly that when other researchers looked at the data, they said, “What kind of medication were people put on?” They said, “No, no – meditation, not medication.” (laughter)


Mindfulness and mental health. Mindfulness has also helped, as I mentioned earlier, with anxiety, depression – there’s been a lot of studies looking at that aspect of mindfulness, including studies that look at obsessive-compulsive disorder. It fosters wellbeing and creates less emotional reactivity.


There’s a very interesting study about happiness that was done just last year, and I love this study because I think it tells a lot about what mindfulness is. Keep in mind that there’s so many studies happening right now, but it’s still small. The area of research of mindfulness is still small. It’s not the cure-all for everything. You can imagine that there’s maybe 1,000 research studies on mindfulness, but if you were to look at heart disease and exercise, for example, there’s about 45,000 studies proving that. So mindfulness research is still in the young phase.



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Introduction to Mindful Awareness

DIANA: I’m really happy to be here. I’m the Director of Mindfulness Education at the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center. I speak a lot about what mindfulness is, and I do it in a way that I hope is going to be of interest to you and helpful to you, and of course it’ll be very experiential. But I wanted to start the presentation with just some of the basics of what mindfulness is, and give you a little bit about the background and the science behind it. Because I think some of the science is quite interesting and helpful in understanding why mindfulness might be for you.


One thing I’m curious about is how many people in this room have had some exposure to mindfulness? Wow, okay. A lot of you already know. How many people here have a mindfulness practice? So there’s been a lot of exposure and not too many people who have been doing it regularly. Well, you’ll get more exposure, if you’ve already had it, and it’s a new practice for some of you. How many of you have done some other type of meditation, not mindfulness? Okay, so there’s been quite a bit of this. Great.
Actually, I’m curious; if anybody’s willing to say what brought them here tonight. Anybody willing to say? Yes.


SPEAKER: My husband keeps telling me that I don’t remember anything he tells me.


DIANA: Her husband says that she doesn’t remember anything he tells her. Or you tell him. I don’t remember what you just said. She is not remembering what her husband tells her, so she’s thinking that it might be helpful to be here to learn some skills and tools to boost the memory, which can be part of mindfulness, yeah. How about other people? Yes.


SPEAKER: I have constant inner dialogue that I’m trying to overcome.


DIANA: Constant inner dialogue that she’s trying to overcome. Anybody else have constant inner dialogue? (laughter) Everybody’s raising their hand. We all do. A lot of us have constant inner dialogue, and mindfulness is a way of learning to have a different relationship to the dialogue. We’ll talk quite a bit about that, how to not get taken away and swept away by that. Other reasons for coming? Anyone else want to say? Yes.


SPEAKER: My sister died recently, and she was young, and in a tragic way, and I’m recounting it over and over, playing things in my head about how it happened. Get away from that.


DIANA: She experienced a tragedy recently and is replaying it and replaying it, and wants to see how she might be able to get away from that. Definitely mindfulness can be a tool to help with difficult repetitive mental thinking, yeah. I’ll take maybe one more. Yes.


SPEAKER: The description said “learning how to focus,” and I feel that oftentimes I forget things because I’m not focusing on what I’m doing.


DIANA: Yes. Many of us forget things because we’re not focusing on what we’re doing, and mindfulness is very connected to an ability to focus, and I’ll show you some of the science behind that as we get to it. Thank you for stating your reasons for coming.


Let me talk a little bit about what mindfulness is. Here’s a definition that I like to use about mindfulness. Mindfulness is paying attention to present moment experiences with open curiosity and a willingness to be with what is. What that means is, oftentimes people are told, “Just be in the present moment. Can you be in the present moment?” But how do we do that? Mindfulness is an actual tool; it’s a technique for keeping us in the present moment, or at least teaching us how to do that.
We pay attention with a very specific kind of attention, something that’s open and receptive, curious and has a willingness to be with what life brings us. I’ll talk more about this. You’ll see this as we move on, but I wanted to give you the definition.


So how does mindfulness work? One way that mindfulness works is it keeps our mind from being lost in the past or the future. This was brought up earlier, but most of the time, our minds tend to careen back and forth between the past and the future. If you were to check into your mind in the course of a day at any moment, you would probably notice that you’re thinking about something that happened, replaying it in your head, analyzing, trying to figure out how you could’ve done it differently, why things happened, maybe brooding, feeling bad about it.


Or you’re thinking about the future. Something that’s going to happen, something that’s coming up. Obsessing about it, worrying about it, imagining, catastrophizing, thinking the worst. Does this sound familiar? Yeah. Because this is what our minds do. We live in the past and in the future, and we rarely live in the present.


Well, the past and the future is where stress lies. Stress lies in the past and the future because it’s where our mind goes. We think something’s happening, we think the worst is going to happen, and we just replay it out to the most awful extent. And then we have stress in our body, stress in our mind, and we’re pretty unhappy.


Second thing is that it counteracts automaticity. What do I mean by that? Most of us live life a bit on automatic pilot. It’s like you’re going through life and you kind of don’t remember what happened. Do you ever have the experience of getting in the car and getting out of the car and not having any idea what happened in between? Have you had that? It’s very common, right? We do this all the time. We go through life like we’re just zombies. Mindfulness can really counteract this automatic pilot. It can help us to be more alive, more connected, more present. Really who we are in the midst of life.


I’ll say more about this; it can be a meditation practice or it can be a quality of attention which we bring to daily life. I asked earlier, how many people have meditated before. Meditation is a big category. You might think of meditation as a category like sports. There’s hundreds and hundreds of kinds of sports. Well, there’s hundreds of kinds of meditation. Mindfulness is one type of mediation, and it’s shown to be very effective, which I’m about to go into in a few minutes.




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Update: Plum Tree Flowering With Fishwater

Plum tree
Satsuma Plum: Japanese Semi-Dwarf that yields in July

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Home Made Kambucha

Kambucha is a drink created by a living organism (Skoby) that ferments sweetened tea. It originated in North East China, and spread to the rest of the world in the early 1900s. The benefit of making it at home (like many products) is A) Quality control B) The ability to try a variety of teas for different effects and C) It is not subjected to mass production and long shelf-lifes.

I’ve found green tea, black tea, white tea, yerba mate and rooibos work best for flavor & effervescence. In order to make your own, bring 1 gallon of water to boil, steep 6-8 bags of tea until desired concentration is achieved, add a cup of sugar, and allow mixture to get to room temperature before adding your Skobe (along with a cup of the previous kambucha tea – called ‘mother’). Cover the mixture with a closed weave cloth (or paper napkin), to prevent contamination & still allow for gas exchange (or ‘breathing’). Note: To date, the only way I know of to get a skobe is from a friend that already has one – every new batch yields an extra layer or ‘baby’ skobe that can then be used (or shared) for it’s own batch.

The longer you leave the Skoby in, the greater percentage of sugar is fermented, creating a more pontent, effervescent and acidic kambucha. Lesser time yields a milder, sweeter taste. My favorite consumption time is at approximately 3 weeks, depending on the climate (hotter ferments faster). These pictures were taken of a batch (1-week in):

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How to Grow Your Own Tilapia

Why would you want to grow your own fish at home? Well, for many reasons, not the least of which is the difficulty in buying good, clean fish to eat.

Although Tilpia are a wonderfully healthy food, the majority of fish that you can buy at a store are full of hormones, preservatives and sometimes antibiotics. Large-scale fish farms have to use all of the above to sustain a more profitable operation. As fingerlings, tilapias are ‘sexed’ with hormones to prevent territoriality & mating, which would take away from the goal of quickly growing fat fish. By growing my own fish, I can buy ‘unsexed’ fingerlings, and feed them high quality, clean, organic food – while in a non-contaminated environment.

Another great reason to grow your own tilapia is the fish water, which I personally use to water my fruit trees (to great effect)


In order to grow your own tilapia you will need the following:

1) A 265 Gallon Tote

2) Tilapia seedlings

3) Reverse ozmosis water filter (depending on the quality of your water source …I use Omnipure k2533 JJ ‘Chlorine taste and odor reduction’ from

4) Sufficient heating power to maintain the water 80-82 degrees Faranheight …I use a finnex HC810M temperature control heater + 800 watt titanium heating tube and a concurrently a backup 500 watt submersible aquarium heater.

5) 2+ Air pumps, rated together for 5ft depth and the volume of water being used (it says on the units) …I use two Petco AC9904 Pumps

6) 4+ Aerators (for the pumps), large and heavy enough stones to drop to the bottom of the tank. (can be purchased from an aquaponics store)

7) 2 testing kits: 1. For the chlorine in the water  2. To measure the ammonia in the water (both should be close to zero, and can be purchased at a swimming pool supply store).

8) Floating fish feeding ring

9) Good quality, organic pellet fish feed …I use Chengro Organic Koi food for my fish and floaters, fromyourfishstuff for my fingelings

10) ‘Kiddie’ pool (optional to grow duckwheat)

11) Sump pump, a hose, and some buckets ) …I use ‘Superior Pump’ 91250 (1/4 HP submersible thermoplastic utility pump)


The Setup:

First, attain the food grade tote, cut 2 windows (see image below) on the top for fish feeding, observation and maintenance. The tote should be placed in an area that is somewhat sheltered, but yet receives plenty of sunlight. Rinse the tote well, fill with unclorinated (clean water) – the best way to insure the water is clean, is with the reverse ozmosis filter. This is where you test the water for ammonia & chlorine.

Next, connect the pumps with the tubing & aerators, and with the aerators at the bottom, turn on the pumps. Insert your heater, and set water temperature to 82 degrees. To reduce the energy consumption, you can wrap the tote with insulating material.


Run this setup for several days, and place a couple of goldfish (again for several days) to insure the conditions are sufficient for the tilapias survival. If they survive, seed the tank with up to 45 ‘unsexed’ tilapia fingerlings.

Place your floating fish feeder ring & tie it to an outside post so that it is centered under one of your previously cut windows. Fingerlings should be fed 4-5 times/day with enough food to for them to feed for 10 minutes (food should only be placed inside the feeder ring). After 10 minutes remove all uneaten food (as it will cause a spike in ammonia levels in the tank).

As the fish grow, the number of feeding is reduced, the temperature is dropped to 80 degrees, and the protein content of the food is reduced. Weekly water changes must be made, anywhere from 10-20% of the volume of the tank, keeping the ammonia levels as close to zero as possible. The easiest way to do so is with the sump pump, attached to a hose to pump water from the bottom of the tank. The hose then pumps water to your buckets if you wish to use it to fertilize your garden. Replace the vacated water with reverse osmosis or otherwise clean water (make sure to heat the water to similar temperature before re-introducing it).


If you wish to protect the fish from predator birds or jumping out, you can cover the windows of the tote with wire-mesh. You may want to plug your pump into a surge protector with a backup battery, so if your power goes out, the fish do not expire.

Using Duckweed:

I use duckweed, to supplement my fish’s diet.  It is a high protein floating aquatic plant that tilapia love. It is not only good for the fish, but it can be easily grown by filling a kiddy pool with fish water (from a water change), and aerating the water. I have added a couple of  mosquito fish to keep the somewhat stagnant water from becoming a mosquito  breeding ground.


A big advantage of using duckweed as feed is that you do not have to remove any part of what the fish do not eat as it will not pollute the water nor raise the ammonia level.

If you would like to grow your own Tilapia, feel free to e-mail me at with any questions you might have.

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Primary and Secondary Suffering

How to develop skills to disarm a runaway mind

Primary suffering is unescapable and common to all humans. It is the pain of being alive; being sick, hurting over a loss of a dear familymember or friend, fear of dying etc.

Secondary suffering is that which we create, often as a result of trying to avoid or reject primary suffering.

For example, if my head hurts (primary suffering) and I am able to be with the pain and nothing else then the pain is real but it ends there. However, if my mind begins to run away with thoughts like: Oh my head hurts, it is probably nothing (denial), I wonder when it will go away, perhaps I should take something for it (starting to resist it), I wish this freaking headache will go away (flat our resistance, trying to make it go away), I wonder if this headache has to do with me using my cell phone so much, I read some research that it causes cancer ( creating new story or drama around headache, most of the time just fueled by fear), I do not want to die, I wonder what my kids will do if I die. It will break their heart, I just can’t stand the thought, I have to get rid of this thing, etc. You can see how our mind works, aided by an always vigilant and often over-vigilant ego.

This secondary suffering is usually more difficult to accept and always self created. It uses up a great deal of our resources and robs us from our lives with fear, anger and anxiety amongst other feelings.


The keys:

1- To recognize secondary suffering for what it is, to unmask it. We don’t want to push it away or make it not happen, for if we do that we are now creating a new dynamic of secondary suffering. Often it is enough to uncover the secondary suffering with awareness to diffuseits hold.


2- to learn and practice  the art ob being with what is happening in the moment, regardless of what it is, whether pleasant, unpleasant or neutral, no drama, no story no struggle.


– Dr Vinograd

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On Anxiety

We all suffer some degree of anxiety as human beings. This is a window into my process with it:

My anxiety is real, it is disconcerting, scary and overwhelming. It is inherent in my humanity, a symptom of chaos.  It can not be pushed against or pushed away. However, it is not my enemy either. It is not a monster I need to fear. I know….I can change my relationship with it by understanding it; Understanding that it is a symptom of chaos that comes from change, the inevitable change from my human condition. If my chaos is reorganized it moves to a higher order. If it is not reorganized, anxiety prevails. In order for chaos to reorganize I need containment, LOTS OF IT!

I find containment in my understanding of the source of my anxiety, in honest, mutually supportive friendships, in Centerpointe meditation, in Yoga, in good therapy, in Kabbaslistic meditation in healings. “It takes a village to raise a child” It takes a great deal of containment to disarm anxiety and establish a new relationship with it.

Anxiety is very real, human suffering is real, but so is containment, joy and our own sacredness. Being fully human is about embracing it ALL. It is about coming back home to ourselves, where we can welcome ALL we are……looking at the mirror and saying: What took you so long my beloved.

– Dr Daniel

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Just a few personal thoughts on imperfection, as I seek perfection

I don’t have to give up seeking excellence while I EMBRACE human imperfection with conviction, particularly MY imperfection.

My human neurosis (and anxiety) is reduced by the degree to which I accept life (or myslelf) as it is (as I am) and not as I want it to be

My favorite poem by Mary Oliver, speaking about embracing ourselves as we are in all our imperfection:

(my thoughts in parenthesis)


You do not have to be good.

(you don’t have to be perfect)

You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.

(you don’t have to be unkind to yourself)
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

(just allow yourself to be what you are)
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

(we all share this inherent human despair)
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.

(but embracing our despair, our neurosis, our warts and our imperfections does not mean we can’t embrace and be part of life in all it’s splendor) 
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.

(once we decide to accept to embrace life and ourselves as it is, as we are, we return home)

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–
over and over announcing your place

in the family of things.


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Dr. Daniel Vinograd, DDS |
10450 Friars Rd, San Diego, CA 92120 |
Phone: 619-630-7174    •    Dr. Vinograd, DDS, is a Dentist in San Diego, CA, offering services as a periodontist, and providing teeth whitening, dental crowns, invisalign, implants, lumineers, dentures, root canals, holistic, family and cosmetic dentistry.

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