Archive for the ‘personal growth’ Category

It’s the Season of Giving!

Thursday, December 9th, 2021

When you think about the holidays, what comes to mind?

For many people, thoughts of spending time with family and friends come to mind. However, for others, the thought of giving back to those in need is just as important. In fact, many people believe that giving back to charity is one of the most important things you can do during the holiday season. So, if you’re looking for a way to give back this year, consider donating to a charity. There are many great charities out there that could use your help. Take some time to research them and see which one is right for you. And don’t forget, the holiday season isn’t just about giving gifts. It’s also about giving back to those who are less fortunate, have fallen on hard times or just need a little bit of help.

If there isn’t a charity that attracts you, what about your community? There are many ways to give back to your community. and one of the most popular is through charitable giving. Whether you donate your time or money, there are countless organizations out there that could use your help. While deciding which charity to support can be difficult, we find it best to look within. Let your soul speak to you and find a worthwhile project or cause you can help with.

Forbes publishes a list of the 100 largest charities. This can be viewed here.  Size doesn’t matter in our book as it is more about the cause. Chopa donates throughout the year to several organizations. One might be a group that beautifies and plants trees and gardens in blighted areas. Another might be one that helps seniors in need. In the past we have donated to charities that support Earth Day causes, animal welfare and compassion, feeding homeless or even purchasing and supplying books and reading materials to groups that can benefit through  education.

A regular donation is made each quarter to the Florida Education Trust Fund which focuses on technology for schools throughout the state. Staff volunteer one day each quarter to a project in their local communities.  Projects have included building vegetable gardens, replacing and repairing fences, animal adoption causes and a variety of other worthy projects over the years.

One cause that is near to our heart is donating to a non-profit that offers a vast knowledge of information free to the public, 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. This entity is called Wikipedia. Wikipedia was founded 20 years ago and as they say, “It helps millions of people study, discover, explore, and research.”  We couldn’t agree more.  This amazing collection of facts and research offers quick answers to anyone at anytime. Their mission: Each day, Wikipedia gives readers a new chance to acquire the knowledge that is so rightfully theirs, no matter what their circumstances might be.  Donations give the non-profit the means to stay true to its mission, even as Wikipedia has become one of the most visited websites in the world.

Chopa doesn’t normally specify a particular charity or organization, because giving is from the heart. The cause must speak to you. The only reason we mention Wikipedia is due to our passion for learning and allowing anyone else to access their huge database of information.  No matter what group you choose or charity to support, if you have the means, consider this season a time to embrace helping someone. Happy Holidays everybody.

 

       (image by Liza  Summer)

 

Shopping for a Kimono?

Monday, March 11th, 2019

A common question we receive from customers shopping for a kimono robe is about the safety of purchasing one from an overseas vendor.

If you reside in the USA, we always recommend buying one from a reputable USA vendor. In our experience there are many risks involved beyond cyber security and the protection of your personal and credit card information.  Credibility and customer service are at the top of our list to provide easy and smooth customer transactions. The most common complaint we hear with overseas dealers is the return process. With time zone changes, it can be difficult and expensive to call an overseas retailer. Other complaints include language language translation issues, receiving a kimono that is different from what they advertised, and the costs associated with returns.  It is common for customers to pay for return shipping, but returning a kimono or yukata robe to Japan or China can be 4-6 times what a package costs in the USA.

It is easy to check online for estimated shipping costs to Japan.  Shipping costs for a 1 or 2 pound package, can range from $25 – $50 with added insurance and delivery receipts. In addition, there are usually a plethora of restrictions about returns overseas including timelines, reasons and whether a full refund will be granted.  We have witnessed various overseas vendors’ policies including 30-40% restocking fees, additional surcharges on handling and worse yet, denials or refusals to accept returns because of creases or missing the deadline by a couple of days, even if it was the fault of the carrier or customs delays.

Customers have voiced frustration about currency conversions with PayPal or their credit card provider and there is little if anything that can be done to rectify these situations. Some vendors don’t accept returns if you have tried on the robe.  Can you imagine?  Trying on a robe voids their return policy?  We don’t believe there is any store in any mall that would survive if they didn’t allow customers to try on clothing before they buy. Another vendor denies returns because “you didn’t like the fabric”.

Shopping online, sight unseen always has some degree of risk, but working with a reputable retailer eliminates most of these problems.  Chopa.com has been a USA based online retailer for 25 years.  We import our kimono and yukata robes directly and eliminate these unnecessary risks. We offer fast shipping, easy returns and have many repeat customers which proves the shopping experience and quality of the robe meets or exceeds their expectations.  Happy Shopping.

kimono-robes

Beautiful Japanese Kimono

Why does a mala have 108 beads?

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

If you ask several people, you may receive several different answers. The number 108 is significant for several reasons. Some meditation practitioners believe the journey of the human soul has 108 stages, while others associate the possibility taking just 108 breaths in a day, while in a deep meditation state of enlightenment. We would not recommend one try it.

The best theory we discovered is that the 108 beads on your mala is open to your own interpretation. What is important to you is what matters most. Mala beads were created as a practice tool to use during meditation. While you don’t need mala beads to meditate, most people that use them make it part of their ritual. Mala beads help you to manifest and keep you focused on a mantra. A mala allows one to chant their mantra and keep track of where you are. While many mala necklaces have 108 beads, some contain 54, or half of that amount of beads.

Another explanation for the number 108 is based on Chakras. It is believed there are 108 energy lines connecting to the heart. One of these paths is believed to be the path of self-realization. Others state that while chanting your mantra during meditation you are whole when you reach 100 times.  The extra eight beads account for errors or are meant to be an offering to your guru.

Another belief is based on the ancient script of India.  Within the Sanskrit alphabet, there are 54 letters.  Each has a feminine and masculine version adding up to 108. Other theories evolve around desires, lies and delusions. There are said to be 108 earthly desires in mortals. There are said to be 108 lies that humans tell. There are said to be 108 human delusions or forms of ignorance.  Math also points to some theories of the number 108. Nine times twelve; both of these numbers have significance in various traditions, 9 X 12 = 108.  The number 108 is also a Harshad number, which is an integer divisible by the sum of its digits. Harshad is from Sanskrit and means ‘great joy’.

The more research you perform, the more ideas and theories you will discover. We fall back to our belief

108 bead mala

Mala bead necklace

that whatever is important to you is what matters.  Namaste!

 

What is a mantra?

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

A mantra is a tool for protecting the mind from the habitual, unconscious cycles of thought and action we get caught up in. In ancient Vedic philosophy, these imprints on our subconscious mind are known as samskaras.

These impressions that get stored in our mind through cultural conditioning and past experience directly impact how we perceive our conscious experience in the present. Mantras are ancient techniques that we can use to protect our mind from getting stuck in the bottomless well of samskaras. The sounds themselves, even before they are assigned meaning, resonate in different parts of the body and mind, increasing sensory awareness.

The first mantra that you have been exposed to is most likely Om (Aum). It is a universal mantra and the primordial sound of nature. The A (pronounced Ah) resonates in the lower part of the body, the O in the middle part, and the M (pronounced Mmm) in the upper region. The vibrations of OM evoke movements of energy, beginning at the base of the spine and moving upwards to the crown of the head. For the spiritual seeker interested in ancient literature, the Mandukya Upanishad elucidates the syllable of OM and its four states of consciousness.

Mantra recitation guides the practitioner in finding their sacred inner sound – the internal music that has had the volume turned down. Sanskrit scholar Nicolai Bachman explains that Sanskrit originated as the language of mantra and that each mantra has specific or general effects on oneself, others and the world. When pronounced properly, this scared sound energy intimately connects the individual with nature. Swami Sivananda has taught that a mantra practice transforms the mental substance by producing a particular thought movement. According to him, these rhythmical vibrations regulate the unsteady vibrations of the five koshas (sheaths or layers). The koshas are believed to veil our inner Self. Meditation and mantra practice allow the practitioner to peel away the layers, diving deeper into the core of our being.

Daily practice of mantra meditation will make one centered in the core sheath. Developing a japa (mantra repetition) practice with the use of mala beads can take the practitioner into higher states of meditation. As we delve deeper, we use the mantra as a sanctuary that houses the source of power to manifest our intention. When we work with the sound energy of Sanskrit mantras, we tap into an ancient practice that has been performed for thousands of years as an expression of the pattern of nature.

~ Mihir Garudmt