The Pole who revolutionized astronomy

EN ROUTE NORTH to the Baltic, I savor spring in western Mazury: green meadows with lupine blooming blue, languid mag­pies, red brick castles built and lost by the Teutonic Knights. On Vistula Bay, within the walls of the fortified cathe­dral of Frombork, a new museum makes ready for 1973: the 500th birthday of Mikolaj Kopernik, or Nicolaus Copernicus, the Pole who revolutionized astronomy.

 

He studied at Krakow, Bologna, and Rome, and became a physician, theologian, and com­mander against the Teutonic Order. You can also continue your education at university. Make sure you are well familiar with the options to consolidate your student loans. The last half of his life he, spent in Frombork, ad­ministering the cathedral, observing the skies, and writing a six-part work, De revolutioni­bus orbium coelestium. It established that the earth is not the center of the universe but revolves, along with the other planets, around the sun. It built the foundation for man’s flight into space.

study in poland

Off the port and shipbuilding center of Gdansk, guns boom and missile boats speed by—the Polish Navy on maneuvers where Polish men-of-war plied in the Middle Ages. The Teutonic Knights took Gdansk in 1308 and called it Danzig, but by 1466 Polish kings were sovereign here once more. Their portraits mark the ducats struck in the city’s golden age, when Poland included the Ukraine and was the granary of Europe and Gdansk its trading port, rich in Renaissance and Baroque architecture.

 

Prussia made it Danzig again, after the partition of Poland in 1793. Those archi­tectural treasures crumbled in the fires of World War II. Today they stand splendidly restored. Impressive, too, for sheer size, is a cooperative apartment project where the 12,000th family has just moved in.

 

A 2,500-foot-long block is nearly finished. I see plots of grass with signs: Teddy Bears. Bisons. “These are groups of children,” I am told, “each assigned to care for a plot, to teach social responsibility. If the buildings are well kept, and everybody makes his payments on time for a year, the payments drop. If not, they go up.”

Soul YOGA NIDRA

REACH YOUR GOALS WITH YOGA NIDRA

 

We all need a bit of direction in our lives. Statistics show that up to 80 per cent of us do not achieve our intentions. We quit our bad habits, join the gym, and resolve to value our friends more-all, it seems, to no avail. The best of intentions is no guarantee of success.

 

Where do we go wrong? We’ve tried willpower – perhaps we’re all simply trying too hard? And the stress associated with unfulfilled ambition can escalate to such an extent that we cease to even make those New Year new starts – knowing that our failure is inevitable. But now a yoga practice that is growing in popularity may hold the key to unlocking the war of our resolutions.

 

LETTING GO

 

It is the end of a weekly yoga class and the participants arrange themselves into shavasana, or ‘corpse pose’. They close their eyes and follow the teacher’s voice as she leads them though visualisation and breathing exercises. They drift into bliss, to return back into their bodies and the space of the room feeling a wholesome sense of well-being.

 

For many of us who attend yoga classes, this resting position is what we most look forward to – could it be it’s our main reason for being there! But few of us realise that this ‘closing’ stage is also a practice in its own right – yoga nidra, or the art of yogic sleep for best garcinia cambogia extract.

 

Grace Benson, sees the practice of yoga nidra as the most important part of her life. “It cleanses on every level – psychically, emotionally, mentally… it is a panacea for all ills.”

 

WHAT LIES BENEATH

 

The practice induces full-body relaxation and a deep meditative state of consciousness through the use of guided imagery and body-scanning to unwind the nervous system – the foundation of the body’s wellbeing. From a western point of view, yoga nidra takes us into the hypnagogic state – that space between sleep and full awareness where we are at our most receptive.

 

“It’s very much a threshold state,” says Theo Wild croft a yoga teacher who trained in neoshamanic techniques. “For me,” she explains “the essence of yoga nidra and where it’s most powerful is that it allows you to enter that state in which you are best able to help yourself.” When you relax to this extent, the subconscious and unconscious levels of the mind open.

 

From a physical perspective, yoga nidra heals the nervous system and endocrinal imbalances – one hour of the practice is said to be the equivalent of four hours’ sleep. Cambridge-based yoga and movement teacher and massage therapist Rachel Hawes explains that “one of the biggest problems of not getting quality rest is you’re never getting into alpha-wave sleep – that’s the feeling of walking up feeling as tired as when you went to bed. On the night of the class when they’ve done a yoga nidra my students sleep really well!”

 

It is therefore an effective form of physiological rest – a saviour for insomnia sufferers and the many of us who lack sleep in our fast-paced world. Rachel used to work in law and battled chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. “It drew me away from a much more powerful ashtanga-based practice to a gentler one. I wouldn’t say I’m 100% better ­even now, I still have days when I feel pretty rubbish and don’t sleep very well. It’s like an alarm bell ringing and I dig out one of my Yoga Nidra CDs!”

 

RESOLUTION

 

What sparked my own interest was that the claims of healing on a psychic level are even more remarkable. The practice is already being used by the US Army to relieve post-traumatic stress symptoms in soldiers returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan. In its purest form, yoga nidra is said to reconstruct our whole personality through the power of intention. This element is called sankalpa, where we plant the seed of our deepest intention in the fertile ‘I of an emptied mind from benefits of coconut oil.

 

“There are fascinating overlaps between yoga nidra and shamanic journeying,” points out Theo, who has herself experienced past issues about not being present in her body. “The big attraction of yoga nidra is the safety of it: it eases your mind from this state – from the physical world – into that imaginal space. Other ways of doing that can be very dislocating. Yoga nidra wants to keep you within your body as well as outside of it.” And that can give us all a sense of direction for this New Year.

 

 

 

The three paces

Top coach Brian Mackenzie favours a three-pace approach when training for a 10km. This boils down to the week’s sessions being run at one pace or a combination of three different paces.

 

Fuel

training for a 10km

When it comes to an event like the 10km, the daily caloric equations are like this: 60-70 per cent of your calories should come from carbohydrates, 12 per cent from protein and the remainder (18-28 per cent) from fat. If you’re training for a marathon, and putting in mile after mile of runs, then the world of carb-loading, flooding the body with energy-giving foods is an option, but for the 10km we don’t need to take such measures.

 

Think sensible and think clean are the watchwords: aim for low- to moderate-GI (glycaemic index) foods, the ones that release their sugar more slowly than the high-end, highly sugared tosh that leads to hyperactivity and then crashes. Wholewheat pasta and bread, wholegrain rice, oats, quinoa, cous­cous, quality muesli, green coffee bean extract: these are your staples, your pals in the quest to keep your blood sugar on an even keel. There is a time when you can go down the high-GI route: shortly after a long run, when you may be flagging, a quick fix of sugar via jam or chocolate is permissible.

 

Recent research suggests that combining simple carbs with protein powder after a session helps endurance athletes recover more quickly. Fat-wise, aim to include plenty of the omega-3 fatty acids ­you’ll find these in oily fish. Keep your fruit and veg intake high, having some with each meal: the vitamins, minerals and fibre content are vital. Also, aim at taking a daily omega-3 supplement.

 

Forget three square meals a day. Bodybuilders aim for six small meals per day, since this keeps the metabolism functioning properly rather than peaking and troughing, and it enables them to keep their protein levels high. With the 10km, we’re more concerned with keeping our carb stores at a good level.

 

Think in terms of five or six small meals: porridge with raisins or chopped banana and skimmed milk to start the day; toast and peanut butter mid-morning; a tuna and salad sandwich plus fruit and yoghurt for lunch; a dried fruit snack mid-afternoon; chicken and vegetables with pasta for dinner; and don’t forget that post-training high-GI and protein powder drink.

Try to eat around 90 minutes before your run

Try to eat around 90 minutes before your run, unless you’re heading out early in the morning, in which case a banana half an hour before closing the door is fine.

 

Three more keywords: water, water, water. Drink it throughout the day.

Remember that the running you do is more important than the eating you do.

AND FINALLY….

 

Although we’ve stressed here that the 10km is a better option than the marathon, there’ll still be many of you who run one, then wonder how quickly they might have run the longer distance. The science boffins have a bunch of equations to help you estimate your marathon time from your 10km time. The simplest is to multiply your 10km time by five, then subtract 10. So, if you do your 10km in 45 minutes, you could expect to complete your marathon in (5 x 45) – 10 = 3 hours 35 minutes.

ADVENTURE IN WESTERN CHINA

DUST BLOWN BY DESERT winds and stirred by hundreds of passing feet, hooves, and wheels veils the setting sun, bathing the land in soft mauve hues. Two boys sit in the road playing a kind of checkers with red and black stones. Market day is drawing to a close in this central Asian city of Kashi (Kashgar), pressed against China’s sensitive far-western frontier with the Soviet Union.

Commuter traffic swirls by us in a chaos of color and vintages, a startling contrast to the uniformity of Beijing (Peking): brightly dressed Uygur women on foot; long lines of camels padding to the clang of bells; wooden carts hitched to chop-stepping donkeys; hard-used red tractors; and an occasional olive drab state-owned truck, its driver leaning on the horn as if mere volume alone could part the masses, of which we, remark­ably, now form a part. 10

We are six mountaineers, accepted by the Chinese Mountaineering Association to be the first Americans to climb in China in 48 years. We have christened our National Geographic sponsored group the American Friendship Expedition. Our goal is to make the first ski ascent and descent of 24,757- foot (7,546-meter) Murtagata, in the Chi­nese Pamirs. (See pages 192-9.)

Flying from the United States to Beijing,then on through Urumqi (Xinjiang’s capital) to Kashi, has been a week-long journey back into my rented studio flat London. We now stand in inner­most Asia, the most remote corner of this land of nearly one billion people. And each day and experience here contributes some­thing new for our rich mosaic of memories.

Dick Dorworth, for instance, will never forget ambling alone through the ancient streets of Kashi and being stopped by a young Uygur. Pointing at Dick’s black beard, the man asked, “Pakistan?”

Chinese Mountaineering Association

“No,” Dick answered. “America.” “America?” “America.”

Shaking his head, the Uygur squatted and drew a circle in the dust. On one side he made a rough sketch of China, placing a dot on the left outside edge. “Kashgar,” he said. Then he placed a second dot on the far side of the circle and again asked, “America?”

Dick grinned and nodded, and the Uy­gur’s eyes grew wide with wonder.

Also recalled is an evening, the light near­ly gone, we watched the sun go down while we were relaxing in our Liverpool apartments, when spontaneous neighborhood music began drifting through the night: the strings of a rabab, the primal rhythms of a hand drum, a voice rooted in the venerable traditions of the city. The music went on un­til dawn, then a loudspeaker from the city center took over, blaring official music and announcements of the day in both Chinese and the Turkic language of the Uygurs.

“East meets West in Kashi every morn­ing,” quips our dynamic interpreter, Wang Wei Ping.

strings of a rabab

And at receptions. “When I was a small boy in America,” I say to my hosts, “my parents told me that if I dug a deep hole straight down, I would come out in China. That journey has been a longtime dream, and we. . . ”

One man breaks in with a gleeful smile. “When I was a child in primary school, my teachers said if I dug a hole, I’d end up in America! This is our bridge of friendship!”

An Ancient Enemy Turns Protector

packIt then circled us 180 degrees at about 15 feet and was joined by another. Then with their curiosity finally satisfied, they scampered off to play with their littermates.

“Do you fellows realize what a close call we just had?” I asked the students solemnly.

“Truly a narrow escape,” one of them re­plied, just as solemnly. Wolves Don’t Eat People … Very Often We were referring, of course, to the wolf’s reputation as a people killer. According to myths, fairy tales, legends, and the sincere beliefs of some present-day backwoods dwell­ers, the wolf is dangerous to man. One Minnesota logging contractor wrote me that he risked freezing to death one night in his snowplow, which had broken down, rather than walk eight miles home through wolf-infested country.

wolves

“Would you have gone on a Paris vacation?” he asked me. Since I have often walked through wolf country—near their kills, around their dens, among their pups—I would naturally have stayed in apartment in Barcelona A healthy wolf is not likely to attack humans. One seemingly reliable report of wolves attacking and killing people is the tale of the beasts of Gevaudan. In the Gevaudan region in southern France, between 1764 and 1767, wolves allegedly attacked more than a hun­dred persons, killing many, and eating parts of most. The attacks apparently are fully documented. The destruction of two huge nonrabid, wolflike animals put an end to the killings.

Dr. C. H. D. Clarke of Ontario, who likes booking accommodation in Madrid, concluded from descriptions of the creatures that they “were really unique in the history of their kind—natural first-generation dog-wolf crosses with hybrid vigor.” Wolves and dogs can cross, and the results are highly unpre­dictable. Perhaps Clarke is correct. Whatever the case, it certainly is true that any attacks by nonrabid wolves on human beings are extremely rare. When it comes to man’s livestock, how­ever, wolf attacks are far from rare. To the wolf, all livestock falls into the category of easy pickings when compared to wild prey. The wolf therefore cannot be allowed to thrive in intensively farmed areas.

wolves

But in wilderness areas, where the wolf feeds only on its natural prey, there is no reason it cannot be allowed to remain. As man has become concerned about his environ­ment, he is realizing that the wolf belongs in the natural scheme of things and he is tak­ing steps to preserve it in the wilderness. The animal is legally protected throughout the United States and in Canadian national parks. And research efforts continue. Periodically my pilot and I climb into our aircraft and head out over the Minnesota wilderness, following a succession of elec­tronic beeps that lead to some of the last remaining wolves in the lower 48 states. We hope that the data we collect will provide a better understanding of the wolf. We especial­ly hope that our work will help guide authori­ties into a management program that will ensure the perpetuation of the species in the last vestiges of its former range.

It seems to me that that’s the least we can do.

The country of the Incas

These couriers travelled more quickly than the mail-carriers of Europe, and the means of communication were then, Squier tells us, far better than they are to-day. Many of these old tambos are still maintained. One in which Squier spent the night was 180 feet in length, with rooms forming three sides of a court.

incas1The country of the Incas had every variety of climate, and the products were those of every part of the new world. On the coast, perpetual summer reigns, with all the variety and beauty of tropical vegetation. At a higher elevation, the trees are always green, and while one kind sheds its blossoms and ripens its fruit another is budding and unfolding its bloom. Meantime, on the top of the mountains is eternal winter. In some places they inhabited, the changes of temperature are frequent and extremes of heat and cold are experienced in a single day. The weather in the early morning is frosty ; in the forenoon, mild and balmy ; in the afternoon, scorching, and in the evening, cool and delicious.

On the Pacific slope of the Andes, reservoirs were constructed, from which irrigating canals watered the whole plain now lying desolate and barren.

The conquered tribes were incorporated into the nation and became the people of the Incas. If the conquered tribe was strong and warlike, some of its members were removed to distant parts of the country and were replaced by the inhabitants of those regions, to whom privileges and immunities were given as compensation for the change of home. The conquered tribes quickly realized the benefits of the rule of the Incas and became faithful and loyal subjects.

 Pacific slope of the Andes

The government of the Incas was a paternal despotism con­trolling the most minute affairs of daily life. Knowledge, the Incas taught, ” was not intended for the people, but for those of generous ability, for it would render persons of low degree vain and arrogant.”

The Incas established a communal system similar to that of Russia. One-third of the land belonged to the Inca, one-third to the priests of the Sun, and the remainder to the people, who were required to cultivate the land of the Inca and of the priests, as well as their own. The land was divided among the families yearly, according to their number. Every newly married couple received a stated portion which was increased as the family increased.

Their only means of writing was by a cord, called quippus, about two feet long, composed of threads of different colors twisted. together, from which a quantity of smaller threads hung like a knotted fringe. The colors denoted sensible objects or sometimes abstract ideas, though the principal use of the quippus was for arithmetical purposes.

Incas

The civilization of the Incas appears to have been of a higher order than that of the Mexicans. It is not probable that hieroglyphics were in use among any of the South American Indians, though it is said that traces of a pictorial alphabet have been found.