Category Archives: Mind and Spirit

Self Awareness in Everyday Life

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Everyone has their “quirks” and unique personalities, and sometimes these can even make us cute, special or endearing to many. However, some “quirks” are a bit less attractive, and when they are, self-awareness is somewhat critical in either improving upon them or managing their impact on others. Most importantly no one is perfect.

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That said, many people aren’t self-aware or aren’t self-aware ALL of the time. Maybe it is someone at the gym who thinks that all of the equipment is his or her very own and doesn’t like to share. Or, maybe it is a family member who believes that they are always right and that the rest of the world is wrong. Or, maybe you work with a colleague who just doesn’t have any sense of how they bully others. Some of these people can produce continual toxicity in our lives, while others may cause only a momentary frustration. Whoever or whatever the case may be, these people are among us.

But why is self-awareness so important? It makes us better people. Here’s why:

Empathy: Having the ability to see when we are wrong or when we have made a mistake allows us to see other peoples’ perspectives and to be empathetic to their situation or their feelings.

Admission: Have you noticed when people aren’t self-aware, it is very difficult for them to apologize or admit that they are wrong? Often, these people can’t even SEE that they are wrong in the first place. They tend to think that they are always right and if something doesn’t work out as planned, it is always someone else’s fault.

Man in the Mirror: If we can acknowledge our flaws, we can make positive change to improve upon them. Knowing is half the battle…and if you can admit to the qualities that are less than stellar about yourself…you can change them or improve upon them.

Tolerance: When you can see your own faults, it is easier to accept others’.

Humility: Understanding that we ourselves are not perfect allows us to get off our high-horses. Further, know we can always be better and as a result, can be thankful for the good that does come our way.

Likability: No one likes a know-it-all or an individual who thinks they are always right. Having the ability to see other peoples viewpoints, to be open and flexible, and acknowledge that you are not the only person who has the answer makes you a more attractive person.

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So how self-aware are you? Here are a few questions to ask:

Do you listen to others during a conversation? Or, do you tend to do a lot of the talking?

Do you ask others how they feel about situations? Or, do you make assumptions based on your own feelings?

Do you think about how your actions affect others? Or, are you confident that others are fine with how you handle situations?

Are you aware of other people’s social cues? Or, do you mostly focus on your own?

Can you admit when you are wrong, and have apologized when you are? Or, do you tend to think that things are wrong or go bad because of others?

If you answered yes to most of the first questions in each pair, you are most-likely self-aware. If you answered yes to most of the second questions in each pair, you probably could afford to tune into other people’s reactions and do some inner reflecting.

Self awareness gives you the ability to be open, thoughtful and aware of how you impact others. It is one of the best and most valuable qualities you can have! Do you think you are self-aware? Have you met others who aren’t? How did they make you feel?

The Power of Prayer

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Prayers can help a person cope with medical illness, depression, addiction, emotional pain, despair, and pain.

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Through prayers, people seek help from a higher being who’s greater than our own fears, pain, and helplessness. And with these, we free our mind and body of anxiety and fear. By allowing the mind and body to relax, it helps bring positive energy and create some balance in our system, which helps the patient respond to treatment better.

With renewed hope, patients tend to be more optimistic and such a behavior gravely affects their condition and will to survive. Some say that this is simply a placebo effect, in which symptoms are alleviated not because of an effective treatment, but simply because the patient believes that it will.

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Whatever the case, those who believe in the healing powers of prayer gain more strength, become more hopeful, at ease, and feels some of sort of vibrant energy flowing through their bodies, prompting their will to survive.

Prayers do not only heal the mind, soul, and body, but can also help reinforce relationships during the most trying tines.

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The healing power of prayers can be best combined with any medical treatment or forms of alternative medicine.

What is Spiritualism?

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Spiritualism is a religion that is not based on a relationship with a particular savior. It recognizes all prophets that have come to humankind throughout the ages, not setting one above the other.

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Rather, it is based upon the idea that we are all to form our own relationship with God, and to obtain guidance and accept responsibility for our actions based on our interaction with that personal guidance. We are able to have that instant and personal communication directly with God through no intermediary; hence the reason that we do not give anyone a fixed idea of God, only that there is a God. Any attempt to personalize the idea of God only limits the totality of that Intelligence, which is the reason that Spiritualists sometimes refer to that idea of God as “Infinite Intelligence” or “Infinite Spirit.”

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Another significant difference is the belief of survival of the personality after death, meaning that we still think of ourselves the same after death as during our physical life. This is proven by Mediumship, the bringing back of loved ones in evidential form who have gone through the change called death. Belief in the survival of the personality also removes grieving when it is realized that our loved ones are still around us from time to time, are able to communicate with us and still care about us, and can be communicated with. Mediumship, when done in the true sense, will produce a real understanding of this existence and level of interaction to and from the spirit realm.

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Meditation: A Spiritual Medicine Part II

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If relaxation is not the goal of meditation, it is often one result of it. Back in the 1970s, Herbert Benson, MD, a researcher at Harvard University Medical School, coined the term the relaxation response after conducting research on people who practiced transcendental meditation. The relaxation response, in Benson’s words, is “an opposite, involuntary response that causes a reduction in the activity of the sympathetic nervous system.”

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Since then, studies on the relaxation response have documented the following short-term benefits to the nervous system:

– lower blood pressure
– improved blood circulation
– lower heart rate
– less perspiration
– slower respiratory rate
– less anxiety
– lower blood cortisol levels
– more feelings of well-being
– less stress
– deeper relaxation

Contemporary researchers are now exploring whether consistent meditation practice yields long-term benefits, and noting positive effects on brain and immune function among meditators. Yet it is worth repeating that the purpose of meditation is not to achieve benefits. To put it as an Eastern philosopher might say, the goal of meditation is no goal. It is simply to be present.

In Buddhist philosophy, the ultimate benefit of meditation is liberation of the mind from attachment to things it cannot control, such as external circumstances or strong internal emotions. The liberated, or “enlightened,” practitioner no longer needlessly follows desires or clings to experiences, but instead maintains a calmness of mind and sense of inner balance.

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How to meditate: Simple meditation for beginners

This meditation exercise is an excellent introduction to meditation techniques.

1. Sit or lie comfortably. You may even want to invest in a meditation chair.

2. Close your eyes.

3. Make no effort to control the breath; simply breathe naturally.

4. Focus your attention on the breath and on how the body moves with each inhalation and exhalation. Notice the movement of your body as you breathe. Observe your chest, shoulders, rib cage and belly. Make no effort to control your breath; simply focus your attention. If your mind wanders, simply return your focus back to your breath. Maintain this meditation practice for 2–3 minutes to start, and then try it for longer periods.

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Meditation: A Spiritual Medicine

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Meditation is an approach to training the mind, similar to the way that fitness is an approach to training the body. But many meditation techniques exist. So how do you learn how to meditate?

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“In Buddhist tradition, the word ‘meditation’ is equivalent to a word like ‘sports’ in the U.S. It’s a family of activity, not a single thing,” University of Wisconsin neuroscience lab director Richard J. Davidson, Ph.D., told The New York Times. Different meditative practices require different mental skills.

It’s extremely difficult for a beginner to sit for hours and think of nothing or have an “empty mind.” But in general, the easiest way to begin meditating is by focusing on the breath — an example of one of the most common approaches to meditation: concentration.

A concentrative meditation technique involves focusing on a single point. This could entail watching the breath, repeating a single word or mantra, staring at a candle flame, listening to a repetitive gong or counting beads on a rosary. Since focusing the mind is challenging, a beginner might meditate for only a few minutes and then work up to longer durations.

In this form of meditation, you simply refocus your awareness on the chosen object of attention each time you notice your mind wandering. Rather than pursuing random thoughts, you simply let them go. Through this process, your ability to concentrate improves.

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Mindfulness meditation technique encourages the practitioner to observe wandering thoughts as they drift through the mind. The intention is not to get involved with the thoughts or to judge them, but simply to be aware of each mental note as it arises.

Through mindfulness meditation, you can see how your thoughts and feelings tend to move in particular patterns. Over time, you can become more aware of the human tendency to quickly judge experience as “good” or “bad” (“pleasant” or “unpleasant”). With practice, an inner balance develops.

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In some schools of meditation, students practice a combination of concentration and mindfulness. Many disciplines call for stillness — to a greater or lesser degree, depending on the teacher.

There are various other meditation techniques. For example, a daily meditation practice among Buddhist monks focuses directly on the cultivation of compassion. This involves envisioning negative events and recasting them in a positive light by transforming them through compassion. There are also moving meditations techniques, such as tai chi, chi kung and walking meditation.

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Meditation according to Deepak Chopra

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Deepak Chopra recently appeared on the Dr. Oz show to help people learn basic meditation techniques. Here is how it went.

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I’m Deepak Chopra and I’m going to do three things with you. First, I’m going to explain what meditation is and how it works. Secondly, I’m going to do a healing meditation with you. Thirdly, I’m going to do something really exciting — the law of attraction and meditation. So let’s start with the theory first:

Everyone thinks that the purpose of meditation is to handle stress, to tune out, to get away from it all. While that’s partially true, the real purpose of meditation is actually to tune in, not to get away from it all, to get in touch with it all. Not to just de-stress, but to find that peace within, the peace that spiritual traditions talk about that passes all understanding. So, meditation is a way to get in the space between your thoughts. You have a thought here, a thought here, and there’s little space between every thought.

According to wisdom traditions, this space between the thought is the window, is the corridor, is the vortex to the infinite mind — the mystery that some people call the spirit or god. We don’t have to use those terms but it’s your core consciousness. And the more we learn about this space between thoughts, we find certain things to be true of it:

#1: It’s a field of infinite possibilities — infinite possibilities, pure potentiality.

#2: Everything is connected to everything else.

#3: It’s a space of infinite creativity, infinite imagination.

#4: It is a place where there is something called observer effect, or the power of intention, which means intention is very powerful when brought to this space and it orchestrates its own fulfillment –what people call the law of attraction — so those are wonderful qualities of your own spirit. And in the two meditations I’m going to teach you we’ll get into this space so we find ourselves infinite possibilities, infinite correlation, infinite creativity, infinite imagination, and infinite power of intention. That’s what meditation is really about.

So now we’re going to do a healing meditation. Very simple.

First of all, the most important thing is sit comfortably like I’m sitting. Do not slouch on the sofa. The sofa is a way to relax so much you might almost fall asleep. Do not lie down. Sit relatively erect like I’m sitting, and have a backrest so you can keep your posture erect. Don’t cross your legs, keep your hands open, and be comfortable. That’s it. You don’t have to be a yogi doing impossible yogic postures. That’s it. Sit like I’m sitting on the chair and have your hands open. For now just follow my instructions, OK?

So looking at the camera, repeat to yourself loudly the two words, ‘I am. I am. I am. I am.’

And now you can close your eyes and you can whisper those two words to yourself, ‘I am. I am. I am.’

And now you can stop whispering those two words and keep repeating them mentally, with your eyes closed. And as you keep them mentally make sure that your lips don’t move and that your tongue doesn’t move and just keep repeating them.

What will happen is that you’ll have other thoughts. You might feel sensations in your body. You might hear sounds in your environment. Whenever you become conscious of that then go back to repeating ‘I am’, mentally, without moving your lips and your tongue. I’ll let you do that for about five to ten minutes. Preferably ten, but five is good enough. OK, so keep repeating that.

Now let’s assume you’ve done that for five minutes. Keep your eyes closed, and bring your awareness into your heart, right in the middle of the chest. With all of your awareness try to see, sense, feel your heartbeat. See if you can sense your heartbeat either as a sound or a sensation.

Now that you’re experiencing your heartbeat as a sound or a sensation, bring your awareness to your fingertips, to your hands. See where my hands are? Bring your awareness into your fingertips. You can open you eyes and peek for a second and then go back with your eyes closed. Feel your heartbeat in your fingertips. You feel that? You’ve just diverted blood flow to your hands. This is one of the fastest ways to relieve a migraine headache.

Now bring your awareness back into your heart and just mentally repeat the four words that I’m going to ask you to repeat, mentally.

Peace. Harmony. Laughter. Love.

Peace. Harmony. Laughter. Love.

Do that for two minutes and now move your awareness anywhere in your body that you want to bring healing to. You don’t have to visualize anything, you don’t have to say anything, just bring your awareness. Just bringing awareness to these different parts of your body will bring consciousness, which is healing.

Finally, come back to your heart, and in one minute or so say again those four words: Peace. Harmony. Laughter. Love. Remember those are the goals of all the other goals in our life, whatever we want, ultimately that’s what we want. So repeat: Peace. Harmony. Laughter. Love.

Now keep your awareness in your heart and just for one minute, experience gratitude. You experience gratitude by thinking of all the things you’re already grateful for. The more you experience gratitude, the more you’ll attract things in your life that will make you feel even more grateful. Do that for a second, a few seconds, relax into your body, and open your eyes. This is a healing meditation.

OK, so the next mediation is about the law of attraction — how do you manifest your intentions — how do you make your intentions more powerful. Most people think ‘if I think positively it’ll do that and it’ll make things happen.’ That is the biggest misconception in life, that you can change your life by thinking positively. In fact you’ll get very stressed by thinking positively if you’re not feeling positive. It’s much more important to be authentic and real and have the ability to quiet your mind and then seed your consciousness with your intentions.

So the first thing that you do is put your awareness once again into your heart, with your eyes closed.

Now, feel gratitude — gratitude by thinking of all the things that you are thankful for — your ego will move out of the way. Remember, ego is ‘e.g.o.’ means ‘edging god out’ — so you get the ego out of the way by just thinking of all the things you’re grateful for.

Now keeping your attention in the heart, ask yourself just one question, ‘What do I want?’ And listen to the answers that your heart gives you. So ask yourself, ‘What do I want?’ Listen to the answers that your heart gives you. Pay attention to what is coming there. ‘What do I really want in my life?’ And now let all that go. Surrender to the unknown, surrender to the mystery of the spirit.

Having done that, start to repeat the words mentally, ‘I am. I am. I am.’ Do that for about ten minutes, and then put your awareness in your body, and then open your eyes.

‘I am’ is a mantra. A mantra is a phrase that has no meaning. ‘I am Deepak’ has meaning as there’s a history behind that. But ‘I am’ is just a statement of existence. When Moses goes to the burning bush and asks God ‘what’s your name,’ God says ‘I am that I am.’ Jesus says before Abraham was, ‘I am.’

So when you repeat some sacred syllable like that, ‘I am’ that which is the source of the word ‘amen’or ‘om’ or ‘a-hum’ or ‘allah’ — any of these words — the same thing.

Then what happens is the sacred word interferes with the thoughts you’re having, the thoughts interfere with the mantra. They keep interfering with each other, and once in a while they interfere with each other so much that you fall into the gap. And that gap is your core consciousness, it’s your soul, it’s your connection to the mystery of existence. And when you bring your intentions there, your intentions become very, very powerful.

So try this intention out for the law of attraction.

A Healing Art: Aromatherapy

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What is aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils from plants for healing. Although the word “aroma” makes it sound as if the oils are inhaled, they can also be massaged into the skin or — rarely — taken by mouth. You should never take essential oils by mouth without specific instruction from a trained and qualified specialist. Whether inhaled or applied on the skin, essential oils are gaining new attention as an alternative treatment for infections, stress, and other health problems. However, in most cases scientific evidence is still lacking.

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What are essential oils?

Essential oils are concentrated extracts taken from the roots, leaves, seeds, or blossoms of plants. Each contains its own mix of active ingredients, and this mix determines what the oil is used for. Some oils are used to promote physical healing — for example, to treat swelling or fungal infections. Others are used for their emotional value — they may enhance relaxation or make a room smell pleasant. Orange blossom oil, for example, contains a large amount of an active ingredient that is thought to be calming.

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How does aromatherapy work?

Researchers are not entirely clear how aromatherapy may work. Some experts believe our sense of smell may play a role. The “smell” receptors in your nose communicate with parts of your brain (the amygdala and hippocampus) that serve as storehouses for emotions and memories. When you breathe in essential oil molecules, some researchers believe they stimulate these parts of your brain and influence physical, emotional, and mental health. For example, scientists believe lavender stimulates the activity of brain cells in the amygdala similar to the way some sedative medications work. Other researchers think that molecules from essential oils may interact in the blood with hormones or enzymes.

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Aromatherapy massage is a popular way of using essential oils because it works in several ways at the same time. Your skin absorbs essential oils and you also breathe them in. Plus, you experience the physical therapy of the massage itself.

Source:
Aromatherapy | University of Maryland Medical Center
University of Maryland Medical Center