Nature’s holiday decorations can transcend cliché pine wreaths or farmed trees to make highly personalized indoor décor that supersedes traditional greenery. Yet mistletoe, holly leaves and berries, eucalyptus, poinsettias, tree needles, acorns and a cut tree’s water reservoir can be harmful to both pets and children. Here are some better choices.
During the holiday gift buying season, it’s good to recall the days of old-fashioned toys. Simple, wooden toys made with non-toxic paints are far safer than those sprayed with varnishes and paints containing lead and volatile organic compounds. Plastics can emit unhealthy chemicals used during manufacturing, which also produces environmental pollution.
A 2015 study by the National Association for Music Education (nafme.org) shows that youngsters harboring an early appreciation for music tend to have larger vocabularies and more advanced reading skills than their peers. The research also revealed that schools with music programs have an estimated 90.2 percent graduation rate and 93.9 percent attendance rate compared to others averaging 72.9 and 84.9 percent, respectively.
Influential spiritual leader Ram Dass has described Krishna Das (Jeffrey Kagel) as an example of someone whose “heartsongs” open channels to God. The Grammy-nominated kirtan artist, long considered yoga’s rock star, consistently plays to sold-out crowds worldwide. The Long Island native’s journey has gone from being a member of a popular rock band to going to India, where as a student of spiritual leader Neem Karoli Baba, the trajectory of his life and music shifted and expanded.
As primeval drumbeats echo across an African savannah, the rhythms circle the globe, picked up by the chants and rattles of shamans gracing Amazonian jungles and Siberian tundra. They’re repeated in Gregorian chants filling medieval cathedrals and “om” meditations sounding in Himalayan caves and yoga classes everywhere. They gently echo in the repeated tones of mothers’ lullabies, happy hummings as we go about our day and the melodies of Mozart.
Music is the soundtrack of our lives, whether we’re aware of it or not. It exists within, uniting and guiding us, and has helped heal body and spirit since the dawn of humanity. National Aeronautics and Space Administration scientists recently discovered that the universe itself has a song.
Filmmaker Barnet Bain’s credits include writer/director of Milton’s Secret, due out this fall, starring Donald Sutherland and Michelle Rodriguez and based on Eckhart Tolle’s book, producer of the Oscar-winning What Dreams May Come, executive producer of the Emmy-award nominee Homeless to Harvard and writer/producer of The Celestine Prophecy movie. Now, as author of The Book of Doing and Being: Rediscovering Creativity in Life, Love, and Work, he offers tools that everyone can use to develop a creativity practice designed to move us beyond our unconscious hand-me-down worldview, escape mental and emotional straightjackets and unlock great reservoirs of imagination. In so doing, we discover we can create anything we like; from a work of art to a fulfilling relationship.
Whether it’s playing dress-up, making forts from sofa cushions or drawing pictures, creative moments can define and distinguish a happy childhood. Yet it’s not all just fun and games, according to experts. Childhood creativity, nurtured both in the classroom and at home, is crucial for developing qualities such as sound decision-making, flexible thinking and mental resiliency.
The love of books may begin at any age, but for most, it starts in childhood. Now, scientists are studying the effects of reading on the brain with MRIs, polls, surveys and experiments.