What I discover on my Journey through Vipassana mediation & how I managed to get to India and the changes it makes of my life's perspective of reality, as it exists in my head of my life's journey, with emphasis on daily life in India . Now I have returned from my travels this blog will focus on Southern Asia issues. Also see Gregornot's Visions Day by Day at http://medair952.blogspot.com/
By Bilal Sarwary
BBC News, Shaddle Bazaar, eastern Afghanistan
Travelling on Afghanistan's main Jalalabad to Torkham road, you eventually arrive at Shaddle Bazaar, a market of around 30 shops in the eastern province of Nangarhar, on the border with Pakistan.
At first glance, it looks like any other normal market offering everyday goods.
But in reality, this is one of Afghanistan's biggest opium markets.
Farmers from Nangarhar and other adjacent provinces bring opium to Shaddle to sell. Much of it comes from Nangarhar and Helmand - two of Afghanistan's biggest opium-producing provinces.
Mud hut shop
Thousands of kilos of opium are bought and sold every day.
Sitting inside the shop tension between the drug dealers is visible - for a few minutes there is hot dispute and shouting over prices and the quality of the opium before the transaction is completed.
There are big scales in the shop, and the assistant weighs the opium on it - Gul Mohammad is busy counting out Pakistani rupees to pay for the opium he has bought from one of his suppliers.
In his mud hut shop he buys hundreds of kilos of opium every day and the smell of it is everywhere.
Outside his shop vehicles come and go - green tea is served constantly for the visitors.
But you do not have to study what is going on too closely to notice the unusual - a man carries a big bag full of hundreds of thousands of Afghanis.
The dealers all carry pistols which they say is for their own protection.
Customers enter the shop bringing opium packed secretly, which they refer to by its nickname as maal. They are constantly on the look-out for government informers.
I am repeatedly asked not to take pictures of anyone's face, nor should I name anyone. The names of those involved in the drugs trade in this piece have been made up to protect their identity.
"We could get killed or arrested," says one of the few people in the shop willing to talk to me.
Some villagers, like 18-year-old Abdullah Jan, have to walk for hours before reaching Shaddle. The tiredness on his face explains it all - if he is stopped by government agents or bandits he would lose money that feeds his family for the entire year.
"I left at four in the morning and got here after four hours. I have brought 10kg of opium from my fields to sell."
After a hard bargain with Gul Mohammad Khan, the opium dealer, he is getting the equivalent of $1,400 - more than he can get for any other crop. He is one of hundreds of people who travel to Shaddle bazaar to sell and buy opium.
From here the opium is taken to the nearby mountains and villages in the border areas to heroin labs set up by local drug dealers, where it is processed into heroin.
Eventually, it will hit the streets of Europe.
The market first began to sell opium openly under the Taleban regime after they permitted the cultivation of poppies.
After the fall of the Taleban in 2001, the market has been raided several times but it has re-opened again and again.
In recent months, Afghanistan's elite anti-drug force has raided the bazaar with the help of foreign forces in the country - they made arrests and seized opium and heroin in large quantities. But they did not succeed in closing down the bazaar indefinitely.
Last year, Afghanistan's poppy production reached record levels.
The US state department's annual report on narcotics said the flourishing drugs trade was undermining the fight against the Taleban.
It warned of a possible increase in heroin overdoses in Europe and the Middle East as a result.
Poppy production rose 25% in 2006, a figure US Assistant Secretary of State Ann Patterson described as alarming. Four years after the US and its British allies began combating poppy production, Afghanistan still accounts for 90% of the world's opium trade.
The US has recently given the Afghan government more than $10bn in assistance, but most of the money will be spent on security rather than encouraging alternative sources of income.
For 45-year-old Gul Mohammad Khan being a opium trader is his way of surviving.
"If we had roads, clinics, factories and if there were job opportunities I would not do what I am doing now," he said.
For the past 10 years Mr Mohammad has seen many regimes and local officials come and go. His shop has been raided many times but he has never been arrested.
Inside, I am shown various qualities of opium and other raw material that are used to make heroin. Current prices are anywhere from 10,000 Afghanis ($201) for a kilo of dry opium - that is the best quality - to around 5,500 Afghanis ($110) for wet opium.
According to officials, the mafia is powerful and strong.
"They are so strong that we sometimes find ourselves outnumbered fighting them," says Gen Daud Daud, the deputy minister of interior in charge of counter narcotics.
"In these mountains of Achin district and other border villages they have everything from heavy machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and of course better vehicles and more money than we do."
Haji Deen Gul - who is selling 20kg of opium - is critical of the Afghan government and the international community for targeting the farmers. Instead he wants the traffickers to be targeted.
"They should target the ones who are selling the heroin to Western countries. I sell my opium to feed my family and from my heroin they can even make medicine. When I have water and roads provided to me, I will stop growing poppies."
Before I leave Gul Mohammad Khan's shop, he tells me selling opium is not ideally the trade he wants to be in.
"I don't want my children to be in this trade and I hope that some day the world will help us. Only then can we stop the opium trade."
Names of those mentioned in the article have been changed to protect their identities.
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Meditation as Medicine
Healing meditations should be simple, appealing, and useful, says T.K.V. Desikachar, who teaches the following practice. The experience begins with easy movements and breathing to prepare body and mind, invokes a personal comfort item to bring healing throughout the body, and concludes by offering healing to the entire world.
Inhale and raise your arms overhead. Exhale and lower your arms as you recite the word namaha, which means “to honor.” Repeat six times.
Inhale and raise your arms overhead. Exhale, hinge forward at your hips, and touch your feet as you recite the word namaha. Inhale as you return to standing, and raise your arms overhead. Exhale, hinge forward at the hips, and touch your knees as you recite the word namaha. Continue this practice, moving your hands up your body with each exhalation, touching—in turn—your hips, belly, heart, throat, mouth, ears, eyes, and crown of the head as you recite the word namaha.
Close your eyes and tune in to your breath. Inhale as you count to six, hold your breath as you count to three, then exhale as you count to six. Repeat 10 times.
Close your eyes, surrender your body to the earth, and bring your attention to your breath. Place your hands on your heart and breathe gently. Now, think of something that brings you great comfort. It can be a person, a place, a color, an object, a prayer, a word—whatever you like. Visualize this thing of comfort in as much detail as you can.
Continue to visualize this thing of comfort as you take your hands to your belly—inhale for a count of six, hold for a count of three, exhale for a count of six. Then, continuing to visualize this thing of comfort, move your hands to your heart—inhale for six, hold for three, exhale for six. Continue this practice— moving your hands, in turn, to your throat, mouth, ears, eyes, and head.
Next, scan your body, looking for any place of disturbance, tension, or pain. Now, visualize your thing of comfort as you move your hands to this place. Inhale for six, hold for three, exhale for six. Repeat 10 times.
With eyes closed, chant namaha three times. Open your eyes and chant it three times, inviting this healing to help you and to benefit the entire world.
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Compassion is a uniquely human quality
In order to realize this goal