Tag Archives: weeklythought

New Beginnnings

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This message contain a meditation.  This meditation forces the doer to visualize a desired new experience.

Our souls chose to be part of this world with all of its uncertainty and negativity.  We have chosen the role we are now playing.  Many of us after gaining an understanding of this end are continuously spiritually evolving, but despite this awareness hardships are difficult and sometimes unbearable.

So this message invites you to experience through meditation a different and more desirable experience.

Almawakening

Realize that if a door closed, it’s because what was behind it wasn’t meant for you.

The goal of this exercise is to break through the wall of fear and judgement that we have created.  . No one walks the same path; there are myriads of opportunities and ways to overcome fears and to experience joy. The only things limiting you are your beliefs, judgments and fears. You can overcome anything and live a life of mirth and joy!

almawakening

As long as I am breathing, in my eyes, I am just beginning.

 

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The Art of Being You

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Your lucky enough to be different, never change

I used to take art lessons as a child and stopped in my early teenage years.  The result of my 2 to 3 years of lessons was a public exhibition of what I created at the most advanced stage of my learning.  I am now in awe of my oil paintings which are hung beautifully in my Cleveland home. I pride myself on calling myself an artist: I used to paint, I write, and I sing (in the bathroom).

Is it just me or does the title artist have a cool ring to it? We generally refer to someone as an ‘artist’ when they know how to create of something, when someone has a skill to do something that requires a bit of imagination. I think everyone is an artist in their own right. At an early age we learn to mask our emotions, hide behind our feelings, and plug our sentiments for propriety.  In tandem we learn to fake our smiles, make sham emotions, and invent reactions to please others.

There always seem to be those moments where showing our real emotion is inappropriate, but have we faked ourselves into feeling something we do not? If there is a need to hide our emotions for propriety, do we know when we needn’t hide our emotion? Culturally people have mastered the art of being themselves by becoming situation chameleons.

almawakening.org

Labels are for filing. Labels are for clothing. Labels are not for people.

The beauty of art is that we can manipulate the canvas, notes, or words to elicit the emotion that we want.  Essentially when an artist constructs, composes, or otherwise forms a creation they have the liberty to build and rebuild based on their mood and the mood they hope to elicit. How is this different from what we do on a daily basis?

Our faces have become a canvas on which we paint smiles, tears, creases of concern, and frowns based on propriety, pleasing others, or for leverage.  It seems as though we have for so long become attuned to masking our emotions and hiding our true feelings that  now we are grasp at moments that will allow us to feel a trickle of genuine emotion.

I have learned not to cry even when my heart strings are pulled. I have learned to smile even if I am sad.  There is a Jamaican quote that is applicable, ‘we laugh to hide our tears.’ This sounds like a sentimental exaggeration, but unfortunately it is true.

almawakening.org

Most people just want to see you fall, that’s more reason to stand tall.

For so long we have disguised our feelings into something  more appropriate and pleasing that I wonder if we can recognize and cope with our raw emotion.  Our ability to express our emotions seems constrained at best and our need to feel passionate about anything is inadequate at best.  When I was young I started to write poetry and  was able to I retain my interest until my college years, and this helped me stay attuned to my emotions, but as we combat adulthood the stings of emotional attunement become looser.  Work, family, and sense of propriety all combine to form a semipermeable barrier between our emotions and exhibition of them.

There are indeed times when are unable to portray what we are really feeling, but we have allowed these times to reign over and decide how and when to show emotion.  As an exercise I invite you spend 5 minutes everyday feeling your emotion.  Cry out your tears, laugh out your smiles, and scream out your frustration.

almawakening.org

Go ahead and be ordinary. Eccentricity is extraordinary.

When we can truly feel ourselves our person hood no longer has to be an art.  Our emotions represent our natural bodies.  Over the years we have been taught to shy away from our emotions and instead rationalize, analyze, or mask our feelings away.  This exercise serves as a catharsis and let’s us feel a raw emotion that we have forgotten how to feel over the years.

I impel you to stop camouflaging what makes you unique and start coloring your emotions again with vibrant hues.  If we can live and feel our true emotions for a few minutes each day, we will become more attuned to our core and start to understand and thereby grow from our insecurities, sadness, and hesitations.

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The cure you Possess

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Have you ever heard that the bodily organs have the ability to regenerate? Every organ in our body is made up of tissue and tissues are made up of cells. Most of us have heard of apoptosis- cell death; and the malfunction of this process promotes cancer, but on the flip side almost every cell in the human body reproduces and forms new cells and then becomes obsolete and dies off4 Apoptosis is crucial for the regulation and maintenance of systems within our body. The cells of every tissue in every organ have different life cycle duration’s, some having a lifespan of minutes others of years.  So while regeneration of entire organs might not be possible, change is not out of the question.

Each cell contains a memory and this memory is passed on from each parent cell to their daughter cells. The cell memory tells the cell how to operate and as in humans if memory changes, behavior will change. While genetic  material within a cell may not readily change, its environmental influences can change altering the output of the cell. Over a period of time if a cell continuously receives a different input its output will be altered accordingly.  So if a cells output or structure changes even slightly it can create a snowball effect. If you provide enough stimulus  (exercise, thoughts, medicines, etc.) to a cell that acts to change functioning (alters to the structure of the chemical made, modifications to the amount of time it takes for the cell to generate its output, etc.) slowly the tissue will change and on and on. The changes are endless!3

Okay, enough of the science aspect let’s get to the lesson we all can get our arms around.  If we can change ourselves on an atomic level then why do our diseases/ disabilities keep pervading? The answer is because we do not provide enough change.  Changing is hard work; it requires dedication and persistence. 5 Depression, like most diseases, may have a genetic component, but also is largely influenced by environmental factors.  These environmental stimulants change us on an atomical level and our bodies react and produce a chemical imbalance.   We treat depression through medication, changing thoughts and behaviors, or with social interaction which affects us on an atomical level and can alter the inhibition or exhibition of the chemical in question.

Every disease has mental and physical consequences. Dementia, alzheimer’s, depression, multiple sclerosis, Huntington’s disease all have physical as well as mental effects regardless of whether it is classified as one or the other; our physical being affects our mental state and vice versa.  If we want a change in one we necessarily have to bring a change in the other.  Our bodies are made to help us thrive, but even with this as the set parameter the stimulants we provide to ourselves negates this intention.  IT being said the reason it is so hard to overcome a chronic mental or physical condition is because it requires change and our bodies nor minds agree with change very quickly. Treating depression entails changing a fundamental thought pattern, treating multiple sclerosis entails changing the programming of the immune system, treating a spinal cord injury entails changing and reteaching muscle movements; so while almost all impairments are treatable the change required is for treatment is seen as impossible and thus coined untreatable.

The change every disability demands for treatment begins with our thoughts.  The power in our thoughts is immeasurable.  Whether the suffering is mental or physical it can be alterered by a change in the thought process.  Stuck in a wheelchair and believing you will never be able to walk and complaining about the quality of your life is fundamentally different and will provide a different outcome than believing your situation will improve and enjoying life as it is. 2 I am living proof of this, when I am positive and think healing and functional thoughts I am more balanced, but when I am negative and think damaging and destructive thoughts my balance grows worse.  When I am positive I am motivated to do exercise and try things to improve my balance, but when I am negative my physical strength drains and cooridinateed movements become harder.

My body and your body has everything it needs to heal, except we prevent the body from doing what it needs to with inconsistency.  Constantly thinking positive thoughts is exhausting but its effects are immense.  Recently I was reading a book called You are the Placebo which detailed different experiments in which control groups were compared to two experimental groups one who was given a placebo and the other that was given medication.  The results and other case studies found in this book are quite astounding demonstrating the power of our thoughts.

Next time you are ill and are in the blues or wake up on the wrong side of the bed, try just changing one negative thought into a positive one and see not only the automation of positivity, but the healing power you possess.

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Science of the Soul

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1

Science without conscience is the death of the soul.

The soul is the part of us that transmigrates after our life ends.  It is the part of us that never dies; it is what gives the rest of our body vitality and movement.  The soul determines the fate, consciousness, and presence of the body. When the body loses life, we say than Joe has passed away or passed on, but what is it that has ‘passed on/ away?’ It is that nonperishable quality of ourselves that migrates towards fulfillment of its next journey.  The body perishes: decays in the grave, burns to ashes, or sits in the morgue so while this tangible and temporary part of us dies that immortal and omnipotent part of us passes on.

The soul ignites the body: it brings the body into existence, brings consciousness to the body, and allows us to live. Without the soul there is no ‘I.’ Have you ever wondered what makes you you? Your hands, your heart, your body; a body is just a body, a hand is just a hand, and a heart is just a heart. What makes it uniquely yours is the soul. Physical characteristics of the body are determined by genetics and our bodies also may be predisposed to some mental and emotional states due to this, but it is the soul that puts the characteristics, the mental states, and mental acuity together to make you You.

2

“But souls can’t be sold. They can only be lost and never found again.”

In chapter 2, verse 17 of the Bhagvad Gita it is stated, ‘that which pervades the entire body is indestructible. No one can destroy the imperishable soul.” There is no living entity in this world that has not come into existence before.  Every life form that exists now: plant, mammal, reptile has existed before in another form: bacteria, bird, or amphibian.  Every creature goes through its respective cycle of rebirth trying to perfect their devotional service or bhakti that would liberate the soul from this cycle and return it to Godhead or Krishna to assume its natural and original nature: service to Krishna. Every soul has a purpose, every soul is some part of the divine haven and struggles every life and all life to attain that perfect state to return there.

Science tells us that humans are the most evolved of species the Bhagvad Gita further tells us that we are the most spiritually evolved species.  Humans and animals engage in four common activities: eating, sleeping, mating and defending.  What makes humans more highly evolved is consciousness: the ability to think, react, and rationalize.  Although all living beings are souls part of the divine, the human state is the closest and necessary state to achieving liberation.

almawakening.org

For truly we are all angels temporarily hiding as humans

You have traveled across many births to have achieved this state of human hood.  What will determine your progression or digression from or towards liberation is your bhakti and your karmic balance.

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Work It Out!

working out
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working out

Working out

Working out is a hobby I started practicing regularly since my early teens.  Since then I have been asked one question many times, “Why do you work out; you are so thin?” I thought after the 90’s everyone knew that one goes to the gym for more than physical fitness but I guess not.  Physical conditioning was the primary objective for working out, but what kept me going back to the gym was so much more addictive.

While exercising our brains secrete chemicals that elevate our mood, reduce our stress level, and boost our self-esteem.  The mood component is what makes me keep going back for more; but working out the muscles in my body is what I do there.  I do a cardiovascular workout which works my heart, I do the leg press which works out my leg muscles, and I do the seated press which works out my chest muscles etc. but what about that muscle which we often overlook for its cognitive functioning?

 

A healthy brain is a happy one

A healthy brain is a happy one

The brain as a muscle is often overlooked as the brain as an organ.  It is the brain that synchronizes all of our other muscles; it is the brain that releases all the chemicals that lets us enjoy the working out of our other muscles; it is the brain that allows us to be aware of our surroundings, but it is also the brain that diminishes in capacity and functioning over time due to inactivity, injury, or overexertion like any other muscle.

Working out the brain is as simple as doing the things we used to as a child,playing an instrument, practicing tongue twisters, or problem solving.  When doing brain activities we use both hemispheres of the brain: the right side which is more logical and analytical and the left side which is more artistic and creative. As children we use our left brains as much as our right brains that is why we are more ambidextrous and are quicker learners.

 

Why do kids have a higher learning curve than adults?

Why do kids have a higher learning curve than adults?

As we get older we start relying more on the left hemisphere of our brain.  The pressures and responsibilities of our lives require us to use more logical reasoning and thus we are naturally disinclined to use our imagination, intuition, and creative intelligence.  Our brain is intended to work as a whole and this is usually the case in children, which may be one of the reasons they are able to learn at a quicker pace than adults. Our brains use both hemispheres to tackle a problem, but if we use one hemisphere more often than the other than that hemisphere will be quicker to solve problems.  For example a popular brain activity is colour words: a series of colours spelled in a different colour ink. Reading the colours instead of the words uses of different a part of our brain than reading the words rather than the colours.  When doing this exercise I am quicker when reading the words; which are you quicker at?

the right brain tries to read the color while your left brain instists on reading the word

the right brain tries to read the color while your left brain insists on reading the word

All of us have a dominant hemisphere, but the idea is not to let the other hemisphere lay totally dormant.  Our non-verbal and artistic brain is usually overshadowed by our linear, mathematical brains; as we get older we slowly lose interest in coloring, dolls, the fake kitchen and edibles, and (my personal favorite) stickers: collecting, trading, etc. these interests are replaced by real world demands such as reasoning, critical thinking, and logic.  In other words, activities that engaged our right brains more are replaced with activities that engage our left brains more.

Just as any muscle; the brain diminishes in elasticity, alertness, and speed when not used regularly.  So to keep the brain’s activity up to par we must work out our brains. When the brain learns, experiences, or tries something new new neural pathways are formed in the brain and the brain flexes its muscles to absorb the sensory input from that new experience, solve the task set forth by the new experience, and to learn from the new experience. When doing something new, something differently our brain uses its muscles differently.

 

brain puzzle

Brain puzzle

So take a different route to work, sing a song to a different melody, or try doing with your non dominant hand what you do with your dominant hand; have a different experience, have a new experience, or just have a funny experience to work out your muscles without breaking a sweat. The next time you go to the gym for a workout don’t forget to work out that muscle that reigns over the body at the top of the head.

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…For the Wrong Reasons

Trying can seem like an uphill battle
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Trying can seem like an uphill battle

Trying can seem like an uphill battle when the efforts are not sincere

Part II of Trying Harder than We Should

Trying hard is good, it builds character. People who try hard win hard; but we only win hard when we try hard sincerely, earnestly. If we persist in our trying we will achieve success because with every new failure the probability of success increases. Trying to achieve something can expand horizons, holds our interest, and increases perseverance; however trying can become mundane, monotonous, and boring also.

This duality arises when we try for the wrong reasons: competition. When we try out of sincerity, to improve ourselves, to better ourselves trying takes on its positive qualities, but when we try to impress the boss, increase our popularity, or compete for the best grade, best car, etc. the negative qualities surface. When we try for ourselves the effort is more organic and therefore more pleasurable, but when the effort is made for others it becomes more of an obligation.

If you work you had the experience of your boss telling you to do

Anne Hatheway attempts to impress her boss...and she is miserable

Anne Hathaway attempts to impress her boss…and she is miserable

something in a manner you disagree with. You will carry out your attempt in one of two ways; either you will make this attempt as an obligation and find the task boring and mundane which will cause the completion of the task to take longer or you will look at this attempt as an opportunity to learn something new. A seasoned employee will mostly always take the former route (a lesson to the employer.) When your boss tells you to get something done without giving you specific parameters your attempt will show more gusto, creativity, and ownership. If the boss dislikes the outcome of your attempt, your second attempt may be laden with the negative qualities of trying if you refuse to see this as an opportunity to learn something new.

When we try to achieve something for the sake of being the best our attempt is not sincere. Mary Kom took part in a sport which was all about competition, but she loved boxing that is why she was able to live it, breathe it, and win. When we study just to get the best grade, studying becomes a chore; however if we study because we enjoy the topic or take it as opportunity to learn something new, the good grade comes automatically. In high school when I needed to write a paper of a certain length it was an easy ordeal when I wrote from knowledge and experience, but once I made the attempt with the mindset to reach a certain page writing became monotonous and gruesome. Quality over quantity never fails!

when we are focused on popularity our attention is shifted


When we are focused on popularity our attention is shifted

Popularity is similar to competition in that it takes the sincerity and pleasure out of the attempt. I enjoy writing and it became a natural and preferred hobby of mine in my early teens. Till date 1 have about 100 poems, more than a dozen short stories, and more than 20 articles; when I write with the aim of getting a good grade, attracting the most viewers, or to satisfy another my content quality will diminish, I will find it more difficult to write, and I usually am not overly satisfied with the result. Also when we win something due to sincere efforts the fruits are much sweeter rather than winning because of our popularity.

Don't make yourself so available to others that you become unavailable to yourself

Don’t make yourself so available to others that you become unavailable to yourself

Continue the effort, because it is the effort that defines our success; but make sure the effort is not made in the wrong vein. Trying, but for the wrong reasons takes out some of the gusto when we achieve our success at that endeavor. We all enjoy getting the good grade, the gold metal, and being the most liked, but once these pleasures become the aim of our attempt we lose sight of what’s important: the journey there. Sometimes we take educational courses for the certificate, the skills we will acquire, or the suffix we will get to our name; this takes away from learning, understanding, and the learning qualities. So when you try to do something, focus on the attempt itself and enjoy the natural fruits. The enjoyment of the journey is in the experience not the destination.

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Trying harder than we should…

our efforts are whaat makes us extraordinary
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Trying can seem like an uphill battle

Trying can seem like an uphill battle

Everyone tries their best, and that is a good thing. Being the best we can be is noble, healthy, and inspiring. If everyone tried their best there would be a lot less disappointment. If everyone understood that trying their best is good enough, there would be less misery, but they don’t. Instead there are a lot of face rubbing, hair pulling high achievers who believe ‘my best is not good enough.’ I was one of them.

We are the sort of people who will go the extra mile to get the job done; we are the types of people who will not rest or take a break until the task at hand is complete; we are passionate people who get lost in the undertaking. Once we set out minds to do something we become very stubborn and adamant and don’t feel satisfaction until we see a finish line. Does this sound like you? This means you are hardworking, passionate, and have ownership qualities. What tipped me off that I was an unhealthy high achiever were my sleepless nights all throughout school, then my inability to take a break at work to eat, and my irritation when my concentration was disturbed when I was working, studying, or doing something else that I sought to outperform myself in. I am still struggling with this, but I am better. What has helped me is the following: meditation (if you are unfamiliar with meditation sit quietly, in a quiet corner and close your eyes. If you can visualize great if not quiet your thoughts and focus on your breath), socializing, and the realization that I won’t always make or break the outcome.

Your greatest contribution is you

Your greatest contribution is you

Understanding that your contribution while important does not outweigh the importance of YOU, is the most important piece of self realization. I had a very difficult time understanding this; at my first community service job employees whispered to each other wondering if I worked there as the physical labor I was performing was so sincere and at my most recent corporate job I worked endless hours, concentrated more on my work output than my food intake, and made myself available at all times. While this workaholism leads to certain gains it definitely has drawbacks. The gains are: it teaches ownership, it can lead to promotion, it enhances passion and Flow, it keeps your mind on its toes, and it increases the size of your skill bank. I experienced all of these benefits while I worked, but when it came time to take leave I realized that for more than half a decade I was conveniently hiding behind the workload I began to love in order not to live life.

When you work to relax you are a workaholic

When you work to relax you are a workaholic

So while working is important, whether you’re an employer or employee, have a startup business or a multi-million dollar company, or have a stake in the company or just work there, your contribution will always be that: yours. If you are not well enough to contribute what will your contribution be? Whether you are a Bill Gates, an Albert Einstein, a Steve Jobs, or an average Alma Chopra and your contribution can change the world, make you richer, or make things go a little faster, it will all be negligible if your health is not up to par. Like everything there is a balance that must be maintained.

our efforts are whaat makes us extraordinary

Our efforts are what makes us extraordinary

Read Trying Harder Then We Should II! Trying Harder than We Should…for the Wrong Reasons

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Disappointment promotes Courage

disappointment affects us all
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Disappointment makes us downhearted

Disappointment makes us downhearted

When we are faced with disappointment we usually get discouraged. Recently there was a question posed on disappointment as to which of two extremely unfortunate scenarios would make you more disappointed. The scenarios were something like this: getting a failing grade after studying so hard, having your ATM thieved after saving for one month for that special present for your girlfriend, and being educated at a top university then sitting home unemployed.

Every situation described above would dishearten and disappoint me and probably you too; my typical reaction would be: anger, sadness, then, at times, helplessness. This creates clouds of haze, confusion, and uneasiness in my body that interfere in my thinking, my emotional output, and my physical output. At these times I will be moody, uncoordinated, and temperamental. Maybe you share a degree of these symptoms, maybe not; but if this is a version of what you would go through I would like to share my revelation.

Don't let your disappointment discourage you

Don’t let your disappointment discourage you

Staying on the negative, ruminating on the disappointment will discourage, dishearten, upset, and debilitate you. What I am experiencing and experimenting with (when I can) is instead of dwelling on the bad shift your mindset quickly to how you can change the bad to good. What this does is it allows you to bypass all of that negativity and let you live your life. Though this sounds like a cliché, it’s true. I noticed that when something goes awry: does not meet my expectation, does not go according to plan, or fails to produce the outcome I am looking for I get disappointed and upset. If instead of dwelling on the why, the blame, or the frustration, I divert my mind to focusing on something else I come up with a solution that much quicker. I just bypassed all the negativity and blockages that would have manifested and came up with a solution while ‘smelling the roses.’

Don't let your disappointment disturb your attempts at success

Don’t let your disappointment disturb your attempts at success

When we get an outcome that does not match our expectation we get disappointed and then discouraged. Getting a C instead of the A we had our hopes on, not being selected for the promotion we worked so hard for, being discarded by the boy we tried so hard to impress, or not being able to buy that car we saved 3 years’ salary for are examples of situations that cause disappointment. If we are not careful this can quickly lead to discouragement and negativity. If instead of dwelling on the disappointment we take this step of failure as a learning experience, you can view disappointments that were once discouraging as encouraging.

disappointment affects us all

Disappointment affects us all

Life is a journey meant for the experience, and because we get so caught up in materiality: wanting the most money, the newest gadget, the most popularity, or the best appraisal we often forget the meaning and purpose of this journey. Changing our view on disappointment and taking a step back allows us to enjoy the experience instead of getting caught up in it.

It is difficult to change your attitude, very difficult in my case, but if I can do it you can too. Try not to dwell in your disappointment: divert your focus and once your mind frees itself from any negative energy go back to the disappointment and see how your next attempt may lead to a different outcome. Let your disappointments become forms of encouragement instead of discouragement and try again until you get it right. Don’t get disheartened; the most courageous people learn from mistakes.

couage is the 1/32 success story who will try despite rejection, disappointment, or humiliation

Courage is the 1/32 success story who will try despite rejection, disappointment, or humiliation

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Failures lead to Success

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Don't let failure make you feel defeated

Don’t let failure make you feel defeated

There is a famous quote I quoted on my senior page by Paul Coelho that goes “You are not defeated when you lose. You are defeated when you quit;” many of us call it quits when we lose either because we are afraid of failing again or putting in the effort again.  When I used this quote on my senior page I used it because I inadvertently live by those words. My whole life whenever I fall I muster up enough courage to get back up. Falling is a part of life for me, whether it is a bruise to my head, an insult to my self- esteem, or negative thinking, I get pushed down quite a bit. I am blessed with being resilient enough that getting back up is intuitive for me. But for most getting back up is a more arduous decision.

When I applied to college I submitted a poem patterned on Maya Angelou’s Still I Rise; aside from it being a phenomenal poem it reveals the great perseverance of the human spirit.  Although this poem is a personification of slavery, a similar version can be applied to our lives now.  Everyone goes through trials and tribulations, some worse than others, some more painful than others, and some longer than others, but this does not diminish the severity of the hardship.  So if one can consider this analogy of slavery and see that in spite of all the beatings, shame, and sneers slaves went through the black race thrives and stands tall and applies it to their own life, one can overcome the fear of losing.

The more failures increase the probability of success

The more failures increase the probability of success

I remember coming across a quote while watching a movie, “Don’t let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.”  Though this is a very simplistic quote it is very profound.  It is applicable to everyone on a very personal level; fear is one of the things that detracts us from trying and trying again.  The wording of this quote seems to make it about a sporting game, but it can be extrapolated to have a wider meaning vis a vie ‘we shouldn’t let our fear of losing, getting rejected, or getting hurt stop us from trying.’

These three verses are inspirational and logical words that can empower us when we feel we are defeated.  When we fail or lose at our first attempt to do something we often feel disheartened and lose the desire to try again. When we share our opinion, try to make a sale, try to sing a karaoke song, or make a comment on social media and fail vis a vie receiving a response of ridicule, not meeting expectations, or lose we become disinclined to try again. When I try to kick a ball, hit a ball with a tennis racket, write one page legibly, or play a timed game of Sudoku and lose, fall, or am not able to do it I used to feel ashamed and often got angry at myself, everyone around me, and the game I failed at.  Now I am a bit more patient and my anger has diminished due to the understanding that I can only do the best I can.

 

Your will can move mountains

Your will can move mountains

Losing in public makes it harder to dust off our pants and try again as there is that additional component of having our ego wounded.  Losing at something when there are no witnesses is upsetting, as the only expectation we fail to meet is our own, but when we fail in public we not only fail ourselves but also feel embarrassed. Trying again despite the damage to our ego and pride strengthens character and fortitude.  Trying again brings us one step closer to breaking out of the chains laden with others’ perception that we shackle ourselves with and one step closer to living for ourselves.

 

The road that leads to success halts at failure for a final Will call and check

The road that leads to success halts at failure for a final Will call and check

If we let our failures defeat us we become defeatists and will soon assume the philosophy of ‘why bother.’ In high school my friend said something to me that I thought was very profound then; ‘practice makes perfect; but why bother practice if we can not be perfect?’ Perfection is subjective, and being perfect is a term relative to one’s effort. If one has the will and desire continue pursuing something until accomplishment perfection can be possible, but if one quits out of fear or offence failure is impending.

When we try again after we lose, fail, or make a mistake we increase our chances of succeeding; if we don’t we are letting our failures define us.  Every second try is an opportunity to learn something new, do it a different way. So don’t be afraid of who is judging you or how you appear; give yourself a second chance at success.

 With willpower success is inevitable

With willpower success is inevitable

 

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Not-love

Duality
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Duality

Duality

This second Mayan message talks about the duality of this universe vis a vie karma.

This universe was created to allow for free will, the expression of which allows us to experience the good and the bad. In our universe where there is up, there is down; where there is cold, there is also hot and where there is light, there is dark.

Spirit guides, such as the Day Keepers help all people alike: the accuser, the accused, the victim, and the perpetrator.  Spirit guides guide the individual to achieve what they want, to achieve joy. As stated in the previous message, judgments are not made, only aid is given to fulfill the experience wished. Although no judgments are made on our actions, there is a “Review Process’ in the next realm that will enlighten us with the affects others endured due to our interactions with them.  So in effect, we will experience the consequences of all our actions.

Take time each day to reflect on your thoughts, words and emotions. Be mindful of your actions and reactions. The first step in any healing process is to be aware there is a problem. The next step is to find solutions to those problems. You have everything within yourself to create a balanced and centered life.

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A Nonviolent Approach

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"Strength does not come from physical capacity, it comes from indomintable will."-Ganndhi

“Strength does not come from physical capacity, it comes from indomintable will.”-Gandhi

We all learn about the great nonviolent movements of historic figures like Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi. How these movements changed history and persevered amidst opposition is eye opening.  The importance of these movements lies within the radical and defining changes they brought about in society.  Through nonviolent tactics both leaders produced prolific and resounding revolutions that we still refer to today.  However, despite being introduced to these movements early on we refuse to accept these teachings, no matter how peaceful and gentle we claim to be.

I wrote a paper on Martin Luther King Jr. when I was entering high school. It is difficult to learn about the history of America without learning about slavery.  It is hard not to see the effects Mahatma Gandhi had on the history of India and Great Britain.  The heights Gandhi’s activities reached are unparalleled and were noticed worldwide, but then what? We watch movies, read books, dwell on quotes, and praise these men, but this is all history; what does it matter now?

Learning about these movements teaches us how history was formed,

Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr.

how revolutions were created without weapons, and the force of the multitude.  However there are some lessons that are not taught and less spoken of, lessons that reach far beyond history.  These lessons include how one man can change the world for millions, how a single belief can proliferate, and most importantly, the root of non-violence.

The root of nonviolence lies within us.  Most of us deny living violent lives; we don’t expend force upon anyone, we do not aggressively hit others, nor do we act out in ferocious behaviors. Although aggression, ferociousness, and force are very broad terms they all contain a seed of violence.  The seed of violence is planted within us at a very early age and is given adequate nourishment to grow into very bushy trees.

Each derogatory remark, criticism, and blame we place upon ourselves is a form of violence.  Starting in our early school years to when we start mimicking media: trying to get that perfect figure, getting that perfect grade, trying to perform that flawless routine; we begin pushing ourselves, slapping ourselves, and smothering ourselves.  Every time I fell in public I would call myself names and think I deserved punishment despite the fact that the fall was not really my fault.

The violence within us

The violence within us

Just as the saying goes ‘we are our company,’ we project onto others what we think and do to ourselves.  If our minds are negative, it only follows that we will become accustomed to repeating that negativity.  When we are in school most of us compare ourselves with others, and when this comparison doesn’t meet our expectation we tend to blame and find inexcusable fault with ourselves.

This is where violence begins.  When our minds become agitated and upset we inflict pain and misery upon ourselves. This pain can only be contained for a short period of time before we start projecting our internal state onto others.  When we lash out at others or share an insult with another what is it but a violent act?  Most of us equate violence with physical acts of hate, but words can hurt far more than knives.  If we know how to hate, punish, and sabotage ourselves it follows we will know how to do the same to others.

Violence is a societal phenomenon.  Violence is taught to us in schools, through the media, and via fraternities.  When I was I high school, college, and post grad school I used to pull all-nighters and stayed awake all day, all night, and all day again for the sake of a grade, scholastic learning, or official work; what is this if not violence to our bodies? My average day is 13 hours and when I run above 15 hours I start feeling achy and groggy. When I was in school I sat like a zombie if front of the computer until that 2nd kick came in at 21 hours. It is not the natural state of the body to stay awake for this long, but we feel the need to in order to feel good about ourselves, meet the deadline, or compete with others.

Through competition and comparisons, we are actually taught to commit heinous acts against ourselves, and to propel and amplify the hatred by putting ourselves down, criticizing ourselves, and doubting ourselves.  Violence, like other learned phenomenon is only as effective as the energy you put into it.  So although we are given the tools for violence at an early age, it is our continuous practice and involvement in the behavior that labels us violent creatures.

Unfortunately, we are violent beings; most of us won’t admit to it, but the torture we put ourselves through proves otherwise. Our internal monologue creates changes within our bodies and because our minds are so susceptible to subliminal messages and other forms of convincing propaganda our internal monologue creates damaging changes such as the rate of digestion, tense muscles within our body, or secretion of abnormal hormones.

Free yourself from the violence within you and bring peace to the world

Free yourself from the violence within you and bring peace to the world

The effects of violence are so pervasive so why not cut down on the violence and start leading more peaceful lives?  We watch the news and condemn the violence that we see around the world, but we neglect to see and acknowledge the violence within us.  If we are nicer to ourselves, the atmosphere of our minds will be reflected in our surroundings.

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In the beginning

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In the beginning

In the beginning

This first Mayan message serves as an introduction to the Mayan messages and explains how we came to be and how the Universe came to be.

Our spirits came into this world with basic knowledge of the experiences we would have; however the construct of free will made the difficulty and complexity of these circumstances unforeseeable. We directed our own existence, and with the help of Spirit guides and friends we began our journey here.

A simple version of the creation of this world can be found in the book the Little Soul and the Sun by Neale Donald Walsch, but a brief description is as follows.

In the beginning of our Universe there was Oneness; all energies simply existed without form, definition, infinitely, and blissfully.  When there was a desire for Separation, Sparklets of light left the Spirit Realm to convert themselves into physical matter. Each of these Sparklets had memory from where it came and understood this existence was only temporary.  At this time there was no individuality, but as this Universe grew further away from the original Source, the desire to create different Dimensions with different experiences grew. Each Dimension had unique aspects and laws to govern how they would operate.  At this point memories of the original Source was still prevalent and that this is only any ephemeral experience was still intact. However, many universes later our universe was created which was decided to have the inhabitants encounter experiences that are farthest from the Source and to wipe all memory of this Source. This universe is meant for the more adventurous souls who are left to find their own way back to the Source.

Each world has a different set of experiences, and although civilizations on other worlds and planets face similar circumstances it remains noteworthy that Earth civilization continues to exist despite the darkness and destruction it faces. Due to humans’ need to control and manipulate things to their advantage, humans have not only caused damage to themselves but to Earth also.  This is due to the amnesiac effect.

Those who dare not to enter the Earth realm are in awe of those souls that do enter and find their way back.

We all chose our current experiences, but due to the nuances of free will and the amnesiac effect the circumstances we face are a bit problematic.  We have the luxury to choose our experiences, and due to our amnesia we get caught up in the possession and control of these experiences; however we all have the ability to awaken and rediscover our spirit- essence.

As a race, we are starting to look within, harness our spiritual power, and make conscious decisions; this is making our collective consciousness more aware of our Higher Self the part of us that remains in the spirit realm.  We are realizing that the life we want to experience comes from ourselves.  When we experience anything, this information is sent back to the Source. No matter how far from Love we go, there is no judgment; this is simply an experience.

It is no coincidence that we are on planet Earth today. There is a huge line of souls wanting to incarnate. Among the multitude we were chosen for our special talents, because we were one of the original creators, to clean up some of our previous messes or to ride the ultimate rollercoaster. We are accompanied by at least one spirit guide when we incarnate into this world in addition to the many spirits who assist people like us on our journey; the Mayan Day Keepers are such helpers.

So go forth this day as a newborn, observing all with wonder and without judgment!

*Note that the phrases highlighted are the uplifting and philosophical messages I extracted from the original message.

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The Need to Win

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Life is a game without winners or losers

Life is a game without winners or losers

Life is a maze. Life is a puzzle. Life is a game; but we generally forget we are just players not competitors. Have you ever played the game Life? It starts with an empty car and if we are lucky we add passengers to our car. Sometimes our car breaks down, sometimes we have to take a detour, and sometimes we get to move ahead 4 spaces, but all cars take the same route and eventually get to the same endpoint. Similarly, in life we experience setbacks, complications, and smooth sailing, but we are all on the same platform at different stages. However sometimes we forget that life is an experience with ups and downs, not a game with winners and losers.

I never considered myself competitive; as a child I was involved in the most competitive sports; gymnastics, soccer, baseball, tennis, basketball, roller blading, and track. Despite partaking in some very competition worthy activities and receiving a high school education from a prestigious preparatory institution which produces high achievers, I never felt the need to compete with others. Whether this disinclination was due to my youth, maturity, or disability I don’t know but while my peers learned to compete for the best [running] time, the most accurate goal, and the highest grade I began to compete with myself for these things and thus became a perfectionist.

the glories of winning

the glories of winning

The need to compete is inborn; it is that incessant voice in us that uses that word ‘than.’ In school, I had to earn a better grade than Joan; at the prom, it was ‘I am prettier than her.’ In whichever sphere, that troublesome word than puts unnecessary stress on outside circumstances. Whether we are playing a game, using social media, or performing daily activities, our mindset usually harbors on comparing ourselves thus competing with others.

When we compare ourselves with others we are putting our attention where it is not needed. The need to compare is instinctive as we are so immersed it competitiveness that we are not even able to censor our own thoughts from it. Our minds naturally start comparing when we see two girls: who is prettier, when we see two books: which is more interesting, when we see two grades: which is higher, when we see two swimmers: who has a better stroke, or when we see two puppies: which is cuter. Our minds are trained in this way, to see hierarchy and rank; this is one way our mind categorizes and organizes information, but it’s when we start subjectifying comparison and start molding it into competition does it start to affect our output and mindset.

When we start competing for the best hairdo, car, outfit or any other best we start losing the focus on ourselves and start putting the focus on outward experiences. I recently started playing the Spellathon with my

Spellathon

Spellathon

dad; trying to make a word out of seven jumbled letters. It interesting to note that when I play this game on my own I cannot seem to get it, but when I play with my dad the word seems to jump out at me. In this sense, competition can be constructive, but usually competition is a mindset that drives us to excel and be better that everyone else.

This mindset is engrained into us from early childhood when we are ranked by the best grade in class or the prettiest picture drawn. In 2nd grade when we were learning multiplication, every week we were given a timed test and the person who won was awarded. In high school, we competed for titles like Most Handsome or Most Likely to Succeed. When my senior poll came out, I was voted Friendliest and Sweetest, but even titles like this were popularity contests and ostentatiousness rather than merit.

From early childhood into adulthood we are thrust onto the field of competition. We compete for the best grade, the best dressed, the thinnest figure, the sleekest car, the best paying job and the list goes on. In school, on the sporting field, in the workplace, and in organizational settings we strive to be the best by scoring the most goals, being awarded for being the most productive, or being recognized for being the best dressed.

When we worry about being better than or the best we are expanding our attention and thoughts to others. This takes the focus and thus energy away from our own experience. When we compete we are trying to win and in most contexts this means thinking about others’ actions, reactions, and moves. When we compare, we focus on two or more characteristics, actions, or processes that we try to be better than.

Comparing is an effect of competition that affects our mindset, awareness, and consciousness. As we get older our inherent need to win decreases as our organized activities decrease, but this need prevents us from experiencing our individual journey fully. Everyone has their own path, their own purpose so why continue to compare apples to oranges? If you compete, compete with yourself. Strive to outdo yourself as it is futile to compete with someone else as they will have a different mindset, strengths, ideals, and knowledge.

The next time you find yourself comparing, striving to be better than, or outdoing another take a minute the think about why you need to be better. What will it give you, what will you gain, and how much effort are you putting into this interaction?

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Technology Tirades

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Technology brings the world to your fingertips

Technology brings the world to your fingertips

We hear about how great technology is; the building block of the next invention.  We hear and see all the advancements there are due to technology, but how come we seldom hear of the drawbacks of technology? Technology has helped tremendously in virtually every field: medicine, communications, automotive, engineering, and the list goes on.  But like with everything, the good comes with the bad.  Our dependence on the technology that has increased the ease in our lives has impoverished the wholesomeness in our lives.

I became an AOL addict in my late high school years which is around the time I got my first mobile phone (2000).  As a child in the 90’s, television was an after-school pastime, but playing outside with friends was still the preferred activity. Nowadays children receive their first mobile phones at a prepubescent age, a time they also become familiar with social media. Television is now technology of the past and children navigate through their pastime, and sometimes learning, on their iPad or Nook.  I’m sure any kid would beat me with their knowledge on social media and such.

I came to India in 2012, leaving behind a job in a highly reputed technology company. Although my job was not technical, being in the company of techies you can’t help but become a little techie yourself.  My occupation was related to HR/ Finance/ and administration, but the amount of time I spent on my computer was comparable to any full fledged techie.  I think I spent 17 out of 24 hours on the computer and of the remaining 8 hours I spent 3 on the phone.  Once I came to India my laptop usage was severely cut down then entirely cut out 9 months later, my phone usage was also severely cut down, and my television watching which was minimal to begin with remained minimal.  Although this mandate was not easy for me to follow at first, within 3 months I lost my dependence.

Till now, using the phone or computer seems to be a burdensome distraction. Where I used to obsess over my phone: calls, music, emails, apps, and messages, I refuse to tempt myself by getting an iPhone today.  Within 2 years I have become more aware of the negative effects and dependence of technology. What did people do when there was no television? They formed other pastimes that involved other people. What did people do when there were no phones?  There was more face-to- face interaction. What did people do when there was no light? They woke and slept with the sun.  What did people do when there was no gym? People did manual labor and stayed healthy by doing chores.

Although I always had an idea about these issues I never felt as strongly as I do now about them.  I feel our dependence on certain technologies has begun at such an early age that our wholesomeness is being affected.  Advancements in technology in fields like medicine, education, and marketing have greatly increased society’s ease and awareness. But dependence on these advancements is inevitable, if not there already, and can  serve as a great handicap to society in the long run.

Watch technology run you life

Watch technology run you life

My main concern was with the development of the individual as exposure to uncensored ideas and images are now available at a very early age, that the social interaction has severely declined, and the means of entertainment have become very technology and solitary based. Technology has its pros, but if not careful they can quickly become cons.  Dependence on any good thing can become an addiction.

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Live your Life

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Love the life you live

Love the life you live

Most of us don’t know how to live our lives. We get caught up in the nuances of life, in the details of living life, and forget to actually live life.  We trap ourselves in thoughts of acceptance, actions of propriety, and boundaries of conformity that we forget what are true desires are.  We work so hard at trying to please the public that we place secondary importance to pleasing ourselves.  I was a gymnast when I was young; when I had my practices and competitions all the emphasis fell on landing the cartwheel on the beam, or following the routine as a replay of practice.  Life happens when you don’t land the cartwheel on the beam; life happens when you improvise and don’t keep playing records.

Living our lives adequately does require patterns and repetition, but it is when we start trying to replay these patterns that we start confining ourselves within expectations.  I know waking up at 5A.M., going horseback riding, doing yoga, listening to music, and working make me feel good- so I incorporate this into my daily routine; when this routine is interrupted because of an injury, the weather, or other uncontrollable circumstances I get a little disheartened.  I forget the reason those things brought me peace, happiness, and stability: myself.  I try so hard to stay on my schedule that when I am unable to follow it I am so focused on the missed ride, the oversleeping, or the missed stretch that I forget to improvise and live.

Enjoy the freedom of your life

Enjoy the freedom of your life

Living your life entails doing what you want. That’s not always possible because there are certain rules that we have to follow and certain parameters set to guide us.  Work, diet restrictions, school, and family are examples of things that restrict our expression.  Every activity will have more or less parameters, but it is how we attune to those parameters that defines our life.  When we try so hard to color within the lines, walk on the dotted line, or speak not to offend anyone that we stray away from living our lives and begin to live a conformist life.

When we worry about how others will react to our behavior, think about how to conform to what’s ‘pretty’, or do what others are doing, we begin overstepping the very fine line that separates our life and a commercialized robotic life.  Living your life is about doing what you like, having your own thoughts, and expressing yourself as an individual; it’s about your uniqueness.  Watch movies if that’s what you like, but don’t get caught up in looking or acting like what you see; go shopping if it’s what you want, but don’t get caught up in following the trend or fashion; get a job because you have to, but don’t get one that gives the most money.  In life some people are rich, some are poor, some people are attractive, some are not, some people are intelligent, some are just smart; don’t get too caught up in attaining what you are not or don’t have, enjoy and make the most of what you do have.

Make the most of what you have

Make the most of what you have

Many people look to make more money, a better reputation, be a good person, or improve in some way, in essence everyone tries to improve their quality of life, but what is the point in doing so if the quality increases, but the duration decreases? Quality over quantity, but when life’s moments are so fleeting there must be a balance between the quality and quantity.

Live your life, not to anyone’s expectations, not to please anyone, and in no one’s shadow, but for yourself; your own expectation, pleasure, and in your own path.

Most people on a spiritual road would say that the aim of life is to reach enlightenment, nirvana, moksha, etc. and to reach this state intense meditation, sanyasi, and abandonment is required but the teachings of GURU say otherwise.  Live to your enjoyment, live in abundance, live with pleasure: soon you will realize the tranquility of nothing, the peace of silence, and the happiness of being alone.  Life is meant to be lived, and when you can live without preconceptions, without expectations, without worrying about judgments, and without caught in influences, you will have reached your enlightenment.

Coloring outside the lines has it's own beauty

Coloring outside the lines has it’s own beauty

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Inhale

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Inhale. Exhale.

Inhale. Exhale.

We take our breath for granted. As a matter of fact we take most of our bodily functions for granted, but let’s focus on breath as it is one of the more vital and basic needs for survival. In yogic terms the breath in called ‘prana’ or life force, and the exercise of breathing is called ‘pranayama’ or extension of the life force. What is breath? Breath is just a composition of air that our body releases. When we breathe we ingest some air, our bodies alter the composition of that air based on our needs, and then we exhale.

Why do we breathe? What happens if we don’t breathe? We breathe to oxygenate our bodily organs. We receive o2 when we breathe, a chemical we also receive when we drink water, and presumably derive it from other sources as well; in the course of breathing we release toxic chemicals from our bodies such as carbon dioxide, a chemical we could presumably excrete in other ways too. So the question remains; why breathe? I can’t provide an answer to this, but I can tell you the most important things and the most wonderful things are often inexplicable.

Breathing is something we do unconsciously and like most things that happen unconsciously, the effects are pervasive and far reaching. Our breath is the vehicle by which each cell in our body receives the oxygen it needs and releases its unneeded and toxic gas: carbon dioxide. Every organ in our body is made up of millions of cells, and our single inhalation allows for the continued productivity of them; imagine the huge benefit we are getting by a simple intake of air. Our brains, hearts, lungs, and other organs would not be able to reach its optimum functionality if we stopped breathing.

Breathing is our direct exchange and communication with the universe

Breathing is our direct exchange and communication with the universe

Breathing helps our physical bodies in a most necessary way, but its calming and introspective qualities are often overlooked also. Most of us take short, shallow breaths; although this type of breathing gives us just enough oxygen to sustain us, long, deep breaths gives our bodies ample oxygen to utilize and also a side effect of relaxation. Breathing is something we do unconsciously and thus do not pay attention to how or when, therefore our bodies just takes what it needs; but if we consciously become aware of our breath: why we are doing it, the how will most likely change automatically.

Taking long, deep breaths helps promote the productivity and longevity of our cells and thus our bodies; but also deep breathing promotes calmness and clarity. When we can focus on taking deeper breaths it not only refreshes us and helps us break out of the pattern of stress, anxiety or fear, but it also helps us stay in the present by forcing our bodies to do something it otherwise would not if it were left to its own awareness. Shallow breathing is an indicator of a stress- prone environment which allows and is sometimes accompanied with tense, hunched shoulders. When our bodies are stressed: physically burdened, physically tired (cardio), and physically anxious (adrenaline) our breathing is affected and reverts to its normal and unconscious functioning, and for most of us that is quick shallow breaths. Like this, we inhale less oxygen and exhale less carbon dioxide.   Without proper intake and elimination, our cells run the risk of dying and we start perspiring. However, if we can learn to control and be aware of our breath deep breathing can help when our bodies are taxed.

 

The practice off breathing requires concentration and control.

The practice off breathing requires concentration and control.

Deep breathing, control of the breath, and different kinds of breathing are yogic practices. The importance and practice of pranayama is taught in the introduction to yoga. Yoga and different disciplines that stress the importance of the breath teach us that breathing into the pain, stress, or anything else the body feels promotes relaxation. Breathing in synchronization with our exercises is called asanas or postures. In these postures we achieve unison with God, the ultimate goal of yoga.

Breathing seems trivial, so trivial that it happens without our knowing it. But understanding its importance goes to show how faulty our thinking is when putting stress and importance on things.

Just breathe.

Just breathe.

When you can learn how to breathe, your body will be easier, and when your body is easier and more calm, your clarity and rationality increase. Taking a minute to breathe will renew the moment and see beyond the stress and anxiety.

So, take a breath; breathe yourself in and breathe out the fears and stress that aren’t you. Inhale.

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What you see is what you get

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What you perceive is what's important

What you perceive is what’s important

People wish, want, and pray real hard for that ideal partner, that promotion at work, monetary success, or a better life, but we usually don’t get it.  Despite how much we think we want something, our actions, thoughts, and energies sometimes say something different.  We dream and wish for a partner with specific traits, but when we find them we question this reality.  I always dreamt of finding someone who would love me inspire of and despite my condition, and after coming across this person my suspicions pertaining to his sincerity, loyalty, and motive grow endlessly.  I got what I always wanted, but now that I got it I am thinking and sending energies and affirmations that contradict the very manifestation that I wanted.

If you continue to see the negative then that is what you will receive.  Pessimism is vicious cycle: no matter how much one wills or wants to receive and be part of something positive their pessimicity will always come in the way.  Many of us have wanted to change jobs, maybe even career paths at some point, but when that opportunity comes we second guess it either because of security, comfort, or disbelief. If you wake up at 8 every day with a grunt to go to a job that you could enjoy, but refuse to look past the hours you are putting in, the increasing workload, or to the monotonous tasks to what you are receiving, then the first reaction to everything will be a grunt.  Most jobs are roughly 9 hours hence it is important to be comfortable when we are there as it occupies more than half our day.  So if you chose to change jobs make sure it is not your perception and negativity forcing you on, but some other motivation.

Seeing an inadequate job will make that job inadequate. Once you convince your mind that your job is inadequate, your mind will reciprocate and only hone in on things that convince you that your job is inadequate.  When you constantly read about and see infidelity, your mind will take no extra time in raising suspicions and pointing out the negative qualities of your partner.   This is not to say that you should censor your mind, but if you constantly feed negativity to your mind that is what you will see and become.  Our minds are thus susceptible, but also influencable.

When your mind is positive, what you see will be positive.  Your mind controls the hue, emotion, and meaning of everything your eyes see. So even when we get what we want our minds can blur our vision so much so that it is construed as something we don’t want. Similarly,

When you can see the rainbow admist the rain, clouds, and dreariness that is what you'll get

When you can see the rainbow admist the rain, clouds, and dreariness that is what you’ll get

when we get something we don’t want our minds can construe it as something positive.  Negativity (pessimism, criticism, complaining etc.) narrows and blinds our minds whereas positivity (optimism, resourcefulness, happiness etc.) opens our minds to possibilities.

Getting what we want involves two things: first there needs to be active participation in attaining the item sought. This means that dreaming is not enough; we need to make a conscious effort towards attaining what we want. We can think about it, imagine what it would be like to have it, or act as though achieving it is inevitable.  Second, once the item is in our horizon of acquisition don’t question it. Unknowingly we question and contradict our own efforts and realizations when trying to make our dreams come true by disbelieving, being suspicious, or being afraid.

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What to expect when you are not expecting

Waiting in anticipation...
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Waiting in anticipation...

Waiting in anticipation…

Life often falls short of our expectations and as a result we are unhappy. When we set our minds on a certain outcome we are setting ourselves up for failure.  Every Saturday

I go out for lunch with me best gal pal; the one day of the week I get to feed my craving with a delectable warm fudge brownie topped with ice cream. So naturally I look forward to and expect to feed my sweet tooth while indulging in sweet company; hence I start waiting in anticipation for the day to come.  Here’s whats wrong: I am attaching unrealistic satisfaction with this event.  What happens when she or I cancel, if the food is not tasty, they are out of brownies, or she and I have an argument during the meal? There are so many variables I am hoping and praying go in my favor that my expectation for satisfaction is left to the mercy of unforeseen and uncontrollable variables.

Looking forward to something is good, healthy even, but it is when we start attaching expectations to those events that it becomrs problematic and not so healthy. If I simply looked forward to my weekly lunch date and had no expectation, I would not be attaching any emotion to event. I would simply be waiting for a date I will share lunch with that person; the moment I add expectation I start looking forward to the good company and the good food.

Adding expectation adds subjectivity to the event we are looking forward to.  Doing a cardiovascular workout for 20 minutes a day makes me feel more positive, more energetic and more agile. I have had this experience time and time again so I have started expecting to get this boost everytime I do cardio. But what happens when I can’t exercise or when I don’t get this boost from doing cardio? I will get disappointed because I have set a certain expectation that if I do this I will get that. If I simply look forward to exercising I would not necessarily get disappointed as I am not focused on the benefits I will be receiving.

These days meditation has become the new exercise fad. Everyone is talking about it and everyone either does it or wants to do it.  We hear of the benefits of meditation and expect that we will receive those same resilts.  Once we start expecting we begin focusing on the outcome rather than the meditation itself.  First, the results from meditation are individual and second and more importantly, focusing on the outcome  takes away from the results we are trying to achieve.  Expectation gets in the way of experience.  If you are so focused on the results you will miss the journey that brings you the results.  Moreover, if we do not get our anticipated results our spirits flounder.

When we focus on the expectation of the future, we miss the turn that leads to the present

When we focus on the expectation of the future, we miss the turn that leads to the present

Once we learn how to subtact expectation from looking forward to events we can be in control of our own happininess, mood, peace that much more.  We will learn how to appreciate the journey, we will allow ouselves to enjoy the experience, and we will be happier when we do get the results.  Looking forward to something rather than expecting it spares us the possible and probable negative emotion we will inflict on ourselves.

When you allow yourself to expect something you are setting a standard that you believe will be met, if it is not met there is a disappointment that naturally arises.  As our bodies experience disappointment we undergoe psychosomatic changes that may promote aches, immune dysfunctionality, and  decreased activity.  Disappointment can be externalized as when we get angry at others for falling short of our expectation or internalized, as when we become frusterated with ourselves for not performing up to par. In both cases we are allowing external stimuli to create agitation within our bodies.  When a student expects to get the A he is already setting that benchmark, when he looks forward to it he will study hard to achieve it.  When a kid conveys sickness they expect to be excused from physical chores, when they are given other responsibilities they may become disappointed.  When a child expects an after school snack to be ready for him, he will be displeased when it is not there.

Trying to lower our expectations in life will make for a more stress- free life.  Expectations lead to unnecessary disappointment which it turn propogates negative emotions such as anger, frusteration, and sadness.

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Paying attention is good: beyond school

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We all have our daily routines which sometimes feel monotonous and mundane.  Grooming, eating, exercising, working etc. are examples of activities we do every day, and doing so can make them seem repetitious, and thus dull.  Once we get accustomed to an activity such as grooming our minds switch to auto-pilot: we don’t think we just do.  Doing an activity without thought negates any result or prolongs any result we are looking for.

paying attention gets you much more than good grades

paying attention gets you much more than good grades

When we pay active attention to what we are doing we increase our attention to the task at hand and thus focus on and achieve the result we are looking for.  Grooming is done daily: most of us brush our teeth after our meal because we have been habituated to it.  We don’t give a thought to how or why we are doing it; we do it as a ritual, as something that must happen every day. Instead of mechanically brushing our teeth if we think about why we are doing it and focus on the benefits we are receiving we will be more likely to succeed.

Similarly, when we exercise we may follow a pattern or routine that may become tedious after a while. Even if we change the routine regularly it is still doing a certain number of repetitions, a certain number of sets on the same machines.  It is not hard to see the monotony in this exercise, but if we actively participate in our workout by thinking about what we are doing: what we are trying to achieve and how we are trying to achieve it, our stretches will go a bit deeper and the weights we lift will affect our muscle mass that much more.

Paying attention does not cost anything but is invaluable.  Actively attending to what we are doing increases the chance for positive results, because doing so amplifies our interest and efforts.  When we perform a task we generally seek a particular result; when we seek a particular result the chances of it being manifested become greater as opposed to mindlessly pursuing it which results in a hit or miss situation.  For example, when assigned a specific task at work focusing and concentrating on completing that task will ensure that you achieve the intended result much quicker and surer than if you listlessly and crassly finish it. In school I had a hard time when the teacher assigned us an in room assignment; my peers would often complain of the difficulty or duration of the project which would irritate me because their whining disturbed my focus, and if they spent the time buckling down and working instead of whining they could finish the assignment more swiftly and succinctly.

When you pay attention to what you are doing you are also cancel out any unnecessary or negative thoughts by forcing your mind to stay in the present.  Thoughts about the future and past bring with them unneeded emotions that impact how we function and react in the present.  Dread, anxiety, fear, and regret are among the hundreds of feelings we get when we think about the past and future.  Ruminating in past joys or future fantasies may produce temporary elation in mood or biological functioning, but is followed by depressive hangover because we are experiencing intangible thoughts, not reality.  Although these thoughts are attractive, staying in the present proves much more beneficial.

Your body is present, but where is your mind?

Your body is present, but where is your mind?

Actively thinking and participating in the activity we are doing helps us stay present.  Habituating our mind to stay present decreases the likelihood of anxious (past or future) thoughts.    Learning to be in the present helps us enjoy and live our lives to the fullest.  When we are in the present we break free from over-thinking things, prevent the mind from using wasteful energy on unnecessary thoughts, and are able see a clear picture of what is going on around us instead of one clouded with our judgments and preconceived notions.

When you focus on the present the mind will naturally wander to the past could haves, future possibilities, and the analysis of words, actions, and meanings.  As this is the natural state of the mind, it requires effort to focus your mind and bring it back to the present moment. Eating is something we all do usually multiple times a day.  We usually do not think about how we eat as it seems like an automated task: we get the plate of food, then leave the rest to our teeth, tongue, and saliva.  We conveniently feel free to utilize this time to think, wander, and plan. However, thinking about our food: how and why we are eating may be more beneficial; the nutrients we are getting from the food and how many times we are chewing our food are the primary ways for us to focus on our food.  Staying in the present helps us keep our bodies and minds joined. When our minds become accustomed to roaming freely whenever it cares to regardless of what the body is doing, we forget how to keep focus and be attentive in the present.  Problems arise when our bodies and minds are disjointed; so before taking that quick daydream or when our thoughts stray back to past memories think whether living in your head for that time is worth missing the present moments.

The past is a compilation of stepping stones that helped form your current self so living in the past is of no use; the future is held behind a maze of doors that your current self will choose in the present if you are busy wondering about those doors you will miss the opportunity to open one.  Mind body connection is essential in achieving the results we want; staying present is an effective way to harness that connection. Mend the seeds of this connection now so you can enjoy the fruits of it in the future.

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Meditative mantras: the modern modality

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When we have a job we are generally allotted vacation time; why? When we go to the gym or do some repetitive strength exercise we do a certain number of sets and rest in-between, why? After running all-

Our bodies need rest and will take it wherever it can find it

Our bodies need rest and will take it wherever it can find it

nighters we often feel groggy and sleep deprived, why? The answer to these questions involves some scientific explanation, but the bottom line is that the body wants and needs rest.  A grinder, iron, car or any other type of machinery will eventually lose functionality if left on all day every day. We know this so either we pull the plug or somehow switch off the machinery when it is not in use; shouldn’t this reasoning be extrapolated to the

We know how to rest our bodies...

We know how to rest our bodies…

body and mind also?

When the body is pushed too far it shows signs of needing and wanting rest.  Our muscles may start shaking, our body speed (reflexes, movements) may slow down, or our eyes and other organs may start lagging or dozing off.  What happens when the mind is pushed too far? Of course it manifests itself in physical fatigue, but when we rest our bodies we do not necessarily rest our minds.

Sleeping is a way to rest the mind; while sleep replenishes our energies leaving us refreshed when we wake studies have shown  that meditation not only augments the benefits received during sleep, but also increases positivity, decreases negativity, and boosts our health systems.  Meditation is a practice that gives the mind a rest from the constant activities it is involved in: thinking, analyzing, deliberating, conspiring, etc. The constant chatter that fills our minds causes disease and restlessness to the body and mind. Quieting the mind serves not only as an exercise in relaxation, but also replenishes our vaults of energy and peacefulness.

Typically, when one thinks of meditation a Buddha like figure pops into mind: a calm and serene person sitting under a bamboo tree in lotus

The right way to meditate?

The right way to meditate?

position with their eyes in a closed state.  Most of us aren’t able or willing to substitute ourselves for that Buddha like figure either because meditation is too time consuming or has always been reserved for the more ‘conscious’ souls.  Meditation involves quieting the mind which is harder to do in public places, when you are doing some non-automated movement, when you are doing some mental exercise, or sitting idle.  We have conditioned our minds to believe that meditation is possible for supreme souls and is therefore difficult as the mind’s natural state is to think, deliberate, ruminate, analyze, and wander.  Our senses constantly provide the brain and mind stimuli to decipher and judge, thus public places hinder the attempt to quite the mind; when doing a movement our minds must put some thought into the subsequent movements, thus quieting the mind may be harder task when performing some movement, although the body is at rest when playing a game like crossword or Sudoku, the mind is busy formulating and thus prevents a quieting of the mind; an idle mind conforms into its natural state and is so not conducive to quieting the mind. As with anything changing the natural state of something (gasàsolid, fatàthin or negativeàpositive) requires some effort and time.

mantra3

You are meditating when your mind is focused, alert, and tranquil

When in a state of meditation the mind is at rest, it is at peace.  It has no stimulus to analyze, judge, or register and no room for thoughts.  It is helpful to visualize something, chant something, or listen to something whilst trying to meditate; our focus and attention eliminates any additional thoughts. We generally block our senses i.e. shut our eyes and sit in a quiet place.   Visualizing entails focusing your attention on a mental image. Chanting entails concentrating a repeating a mantra. Mantra is a Sanskrit word meaning to liberate the mind.  Yoga nidra and the like are spoken meditations that induce the student into the desired state.

These are the traditional ways to reach a meditative state, but many of us find this practice weary and grueling.  Meditation should not be forced, but should be sought out for its peaceful qualities: not as a means to an end but an end itself.   If sitting quietly under a tree while cutting off sensory stimulation to your brain seems too tedious and daunting consider engaging yourself to find your Flow.  One can enter the state of Flow by doing what one enjoys. Dr. Martin Seligman referred to someone who experienced Flow by entering into the stock exchange.  Artists, entrepreneurs, scientists enter Flow and have made many creations and discoveries this way.  Consider determining your own strengths at authentighappiness.com and constructing your work and play activity according to them.  Finding a balance between what you are skilled at and what challenges you is key synergy to finding your Flow. Interest and understanding what you are doing goes without saying.

Doing something you enjoy makes it easier for the mind to enter into the state of Flow.  Find what you are good at, what interests you, and what intrigues and excites your mind and there you will find a door that will direct you to the experience of Flow.  It is in this experience that you can reach the meditative state.  In the state of Flow your mind is on auto-focus negating any idling or observatory thoughts and on autopilot cutting out (most) of the thought process involved.  So get in tune with you Flow today, and experience meditative sanctuary.

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The Greatest Love Story

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The one whose arms fit perfectly around us

The one whose arms fit perfectly around us

We often wonder, savor, dream, or ruminate on the ideal love life. We get our notions from the media, experiences, and what we observe.  Snuggling under the blanket on a cold day, having moonlit dinners, and walking across the beach under a beautiful sunset with our partner are romantic notions that we have all yearned for or experienced at some point in our lives. But what happens after these romantic events are done?

I unabashedly admit that I am guilty of having these yearnings. Having someone to catch you when you fall or to experience new things with is a wonderful notion, but we (I) tend to forget the baggage that will come along with that someone.

Before we can even try to find that companion that will ‘complete us,’ before we can even begin to look outward to find the partner we are willing to compromise, sacrifice, and adjust for, our even before we can expect our current partner to complement us we need to look inward and complete ourselves.

Only once we know ourselves can we experience or expect to experience

Touch the one person who truly matters

Touch the one person who truly matters

anything satisfying. The most important relationship we develop is the one with ourselves.  Most of us live our whole lives not really knowing who we are: not knowing what we truly enjoy, what really bothers us, or what we actually want.  If we do not fully understand ourselves we wander through life waiting, hoping, and searching for the someone or something that will fulfill us.  When we nurture, spend time, and learn to listen to ourselves we can understand what we really want; when we recognize what makes us happy, what makes us sad, and what satisfies us we can ask for and seek the things we want and need instead of searching for thing that may or may not bring us fulfillment.

The reason we do not get what we want is because we do not really know what we want.  Humans are fickle, easily distracted, and impatient.  We think having a partner with xyz qualities will make us happy, but look the other way as soon as we see someone more appealing.  We are attracted to and seek out person x until we are introduced to a new and shiner prospective object of our attention.  When we see something that makes us happy we run after it and when it does not bare immediate fruit a new search will begin to that will aim to fill the void that our initial search failed to fill.

Once we begin our relationship ourselves we can better understand what we really need and want.  Developing a relation with yourself is as much of an investment as taking care of a new puppy or making a new friend; you will need to spend time by and with yourself in order to learn how you feel about things, how you react to things, and what the natural tendencies of your body are.  This is the study of the self on an intimate level. Study on this level will allow us to know ourselves on a soul level.

This study will not only be an enlightening and uplifting journey, it will introduce us to the greatest love of our lives, the one person we cannot live without. Finding out our strengths, weaknesses trigger points, fears, and motivators will give us a new understanding and guide us to a smoother path in life.  We will better be able to articulate what we want and what we don’t want.

Your love story will begin while on this journey; you will realize the height of your own accomplishments, the strength of your character, the wounds you have healed, and how deserving and unique you really are.  Once you know yourself you will automatically feel a sense of fulfillment and will start looking inwards rather than out for things that will make you happy.

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Letting go

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As much as we hit the control button, we can never claim control

As much as we hit the control button, we can never claim control

Many of us worry abput losing control. I know that I can be charertarized as a Type A personality control freak, but my recent experiences in yoge, mmeditaion, spirituality, and a technology limited existence have led me to an understanding that loosening up on the reigns is ok.  I thought I needed the answers to every question that could be asked of me: who, what, when, where, why and how did this happen.  This need may be intrinsic to euntraprenureal blood because as I look at my parents and siblings the need is the same.

When we loosen up on the reigns and lose a bit of the control which we feel keeps our life in order we are actually regaining the control we lost in our early childhood. The reigns we hold are material and the harder we hold will not help us live our lives more peacefully, elongate our lives, or make us more happy.  The reigns are ephemeral just like everything else in life and the harder we try to steer the more hurdles we will have to maneuver.  When we were children life seemed to flow; we didn’t think about who, what, when, where, why, and how things happened we just did what we needed or wanted and didn’t worry about who had the control.

Once we relax and open ourselves up to possibility we realize the need to be in control is a futile and taxing effort that keeps our mind and bodies under stress.  We hold onto the reigns so tightly and become so

I am pulling back on the reigns, so why am I lunging forward?

I am pulling back on the reigns, so why am I lunging forward?

rigid and particular about how, when, and where we want things that we become so focused and tunnel visioned that we forget to look at and appreciate other possibilities.  If we let go of our control our mind will open up to possibility, we open ourselves up to chance thus be part of different positive experiences. As most of the people who know me can attest to I am the most stringent of persons; professionally, I run a tight ship and never let up the precision; personally, there is a certain way and time to do everything.  Not only can this way of thinking be exhausting to yourself and others which produces negativity, but it is quite impossible to package everything into tidy little squares. Being anal makes me successful at implementing procedures and following proceeses, but unsuccessful at relationships.  You need malleability when being with people, when living life, a characteristic being anal prevents you from developing.

Letting go entails some kind of faith, because if you let go you are trusting that someone will be there to take a grip on the reins for you.  Whether you are letting go of control, a past injustice, or an intolerance, we are giving up the aforementioned items to someone.  Whether or not we acknowledge that ‘someone or thing’  letting go benefits us as it lightens the load on our minds, hearts, and souls.  Holding onto unnecessary burdens or frivolous thoughts waste our energy, time, and use up precious space in our bodies. Anger towards the person who is responsible for losing your laptop, resentment towards a parent for not giving you what you needed, or hatred for a co-worker who made a mean comment about you is one of the many ways we make negative the potential positivity.

Negativity accumulates in the body just as fat accumulates in the gut.

Letting go of the anger, pain, and regret that we hold so tightly

Letting go of the anger, pain, and regret that we hold so tightly

We can break up the dark spots of negativity by learning to let go.  Forgivesness, compassion, and gratitude are examples of artillery we can use to combat the blemishes that stain our heart.  Learning to let go of the need to get even, leaning to understand others, and learning that even the smallest action is worth noting are ways to lessen the burden we carry and thus ease our bodies. “Forgiveness doesn’t excuse the behavior, it just prevents that behavior from destroying your heart” similarly being grateful snd compassionate are ways to broaden your scope and is not about the others’ behavior.

Letting go is a sign of the strength in your person, not the weakness as the phrase connotes.  Forgiving entails letting go of the anger, resentment, and hatred we accumulate in response to a person that did us wrong. Just like any particle that stays in storage for too long, our negativity rots and starts producing hazardous chemicles that affects other   bodily and mind functions. Gratitude lets us appreciate even the smallest acts so we are able to let go of wasteful and meaningless emotions.  When you realize no event is ever independent, being grateful becomes easier and thus the letting go of our rigid needs, wants, and desires begins.  Compassion allows us to understand the others perspective, so once we can learn to be compassionate we can let go of our fusteration with others, our impatience with others, and our inflexible views.

Learning to let go lets us live peacefully rather than wrestling with what are position should be in so to be peaceful.  Sound minds and bodies are created when we learn to let go.  Sometimes we wonder how we can let go because the action of another is so hurtful; letting go is not synonymous with forgetting it is simply a cathartic release of the negativity we associate with events, persons, or places.  By letting go you are not ridiculing, minimalizing, or erasing what happened you are simply deciding not to let those frusterations, fears, prejudices, and anger dictate how you live today.

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When the World becomes a More Inviting Place

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Knock. knock. The world wants to play with you

Knock. knock. The world wants to play with you

All of us have been annoyed with the proceedings of our lives, at one point or another.  Some more than others, but we all feel like helpless victims at some point.  We are slaves of karma, servants to our children, and robots in a commercialized culture; sometimes we just want to break free and do what we want when we want.  When I was in law school there was a shirt that I used to wear very frequently because it was comfortable. One day while I was waiting for class to begin, I read the outside tag of the shirt; it said ‘Do what you like and like what you do.’ I was thrilled at reading this, for two reasons: I practice this philosophy and I was wearing/ showcasing this enlightening slogan, which made me cool by default.   This eloquent yet simple phrase is a philosophy to live by; we spend 75% of our lives working, and if we actually enjoy what we do rather than working to meet an ends, we will find ourselves in a much happier

People who are passionate about what they do everyday have less of a chance to greet the morning in a grumpy state.  If you enjoy what you do, where you go, and what you are working on your body and mind will have less of a reason to be negative.  When I went to work I would wake every morning enthused.  My mind didn’t find excuses to delay going to work such as oversleeping or a phantom ache.  Of course work comes with stress and other issues that can create negativity, but enjoying what you do means not forcing your mind and body to be in a place it doesn’t want to. As children we make a face and mope when told to do something we do not want to: our bodies will lag and our minds will start searching for excuses. As adults, we understand responsibilities, so feel compelled to force our minds and bodies, but our bodies still start to lag (ulcers and other disorders) and our mind tries to find excuses (making unintentional mistakes).

Why do children seem to be in a happier state than adults? Yes, they have their parents to worry and take tension for them; but more it’s than that.  Children are not bound by the responsibilities and restrictions adult learn to adopt. Children do what they want regardless of etiquette or consequences.  For example I wanted to watch a movie that would’ve ended at 1 AM the other night but weighed the cost and immediately reconsidered; had a child wanted to watch that same movie they would have regardless of the repercussions i.e. late for school, less sleep and would have dealt with them as they came. I ended up regretting not watching the movie the next day. If we do something we enjoy, we can save the extra energy our bodies and minds use to engage in tasks that they do not want to.

This way to a more delightful journey

This way to a more delightful journey

Finding a profession that we are passionate about is not an easy task. After all, we don’t learn passion, we emote passion. In this culture, the ultimate aim is a higher paycheck, not the simple feel good job.  However, every job can elicit some passion if we can change our perspective:

  • Instead of complaining about the hours, responsibilities, coworkers, etc. take a more active role and try owning some aspect of your responsibility; bring your initiative, creativity, and think of ways to enhance whatever it is that you do
  • If you think it is a practice run for the promotion, you will shine harder.
  • Every job is a learning experience; somewhere, somehow we pick up a few tricks of the trade
  • It is our prescribed duty and we will be graded on how dutifully it is carried out.

So go into work with a smile instead of a frown.  Don’t go in with anticipations and expectations. Change your perspective and let the prospects change for you.

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Flowing with the Flow

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Ride in the current of Flow

Ride in the current of Flow

I believe all of us need to practice something we enjoy that will bring us closer to ourselves. Something that gives us joy. Something that gives us peace of mind. As we grow, we tend to forget to do this because of the responsibilities and tensions life hands us. We slowly, but surely lose touch with the child we once were. Children know joy; they aren’t preoccupied with the restrictions, etiquette, and responsibilities of life.

If we, as adults practice something we enjoy, the rewards we will reap are immeasurable. Although some adults, me included, thoroughly enjoy working our jobs, I don’t mean this. I mean a hobby; something we do for ourselves.  Don’t know what to do? If you had one hour what would you do; you have no pending professional work, no housework, and no friends online, or even available, what would you do? This is just YOU time.

I’ll give you my example: in 6th grade we were given creative assignments and I choose to remember and recite “If” by Rudyard Kipling. I was an avid reader and enjoyed writing (homework and assignments), but this was my first experience with poetry. My first poem was written in grade 7, and thereafter became my preferred creative process for assignments and such. I realized that when writing poetry I would lose track of time, block out noises and other disturbances, and enter the world of the poem which I was in the process of writing. This process gave me so much pleasure, that I looked forward to any chance I got to write poetry.  When I write a poem, I lose track of time and continue writing until the work is done.  Being inspired, trying to rhyme phrases, and writing aesthetically can be 1-8 hour process, but when you are in the Flow it seems minutes.

Another activity that forces me to lose myself is listening to music. I am a type A personality: very anal. As such, I am very particular about time and feel the need to be early to every appointment: classes, movies, meetings, doing assignments early, and the like. In my 1st year of college I had a statistics class at that I had to be driven to. Apparently, one day I got ready a little early so my mom had me wait; I decided to listen to music for the time to pass. I switched on my 60 cd player stereo and stated listening (and singing along with) the soundtrack of “A Walk to Remember’; I got so caught up in the emotions of the music that my mom had to come to me and tell me I was late.

Things I do to calm, center, and give myself joy: 1. Writing 2. Listening to music 3. Chanting 4. Meditating/ yoga 5. Reading

So, in the one hour you have for yourself, do any of my meditations interest you? Do any of these things give you joy such that if someone comes knocking you will be irritated? Will these or any other activity be so pleasurable and centering that it will put you into a trance like state?

I invite and urge you to spend some time to go back to your simpler life and remember something that gave you joy. Plug this activity into your hectic and busy life and see the wonders it will do for you.  Spending time investing in this activity will provide to you the same fruits as meditation provides.

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Affirm yourself

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Affirm yoursefl

affirm yoursefl

Most of us talk to ourselves; thoughts, reminders, criticisms, and commentaries are just a few ways we converse with ourselves every day. We weigh out the pros and cons with ourselves when we make decisions, we talk ourselves into or out of different predicaments, and we encourage and discourage ourselves daily.  Negativity, as well as positivity, is a consequence of our internal discussion.  As the saying goes, we are our best advocates as well as our worst adversaries.

In our lifetime, the person we spend most of our time with is none other than our self.  The influence our peers, partners, and family have over us is substantial, but minimal compared to the influence we have over ourselves.  When we think to ourselves we create an effect on our mental state: thinking about the past will create anguish, and thus produce negativity; thinking about the future will create anxiety, and thus produces negativity. Overthinking situations, or ruminating about a past and future situation, produces secretion of different chemicals that creates negativity in our bodies.

As we grow older our inner voices becomes louder.  We become more comfortable in our thoughts, so we start talking to ourselves more; our self criticisms become more apparent, due to media and norms, and thus destructive; our criticisms of others becomes internal, due to norms and etiquette, and thus destructive. For example, we start telling ourselves we are fat; this may be due to models in a magazine or what the doctor says, but with this thought structural changes happen in the brain, thereby secreting different chemicals that affect us negatively. Similar is the process when we criticize others. We meet someone and immediately make a judgment; “She’s so ugly;” what is a judgment but a criticism? Whether we disapprovingly criticize ourselves or others, the result is the same: a negative effect on our own minds and bodies.

Wake up and affirm yourself

Wake up and affirm yourself

I will not hesitate to state that 85% of our internal monologue is negative; as we grow we stray further and further from purity and are conditioned to keep our negative thoughts to ourselves.  The propensity for negative thinking is increased when we become increasingly exposed to the media, depressive states and disorders, and when we are unable to meet our responsibilities.  Once one negative comment is made, due to the afore mentioned reasons, we are pulled into a vicious cycle that propagates negativity. Recently I had some personal belongings taken from me which were misplaced. This made me upset and I started calling the person names. From names, my negativity had me conceptualizing different situations in which my stuff was stolen and misused. After thinking about the negative situations, I started calling other people names and blaming them. Thus began my sinking into unending whirlpool of spitefulness and hate.

Thinking negatively impacts our behaviors, interpretations, and body functionality; it limits our prospects and perspectives.  It makes intuitive sense; our mind set does exactly that -it sets a boundary for our mind; if we are bent on a certain outcome our minds will refuse to see any possibility beyond that outcome. An example that stretches outside of negativity, but still goes to the point of how the state of mind can limit thinking of possibilities is when I was working.  My coworker said she could not complete a certain task because she couldn’t get a certain document from Google printed. She complained that she had tried saving the document, directly printing it, and cut and copying it into Word, but it COULD NOT be done; I asked her if she tried the ‘print screen’ button.

When I think negatively, I can feel it physically. Getting up from the couch, doing exercises such as bridging, or climbing into the car, activities I can do myself everyday become unusually hard when my mind is negative. My balance or strength will lack somewhere, and performing these mundane tasks will leave me with a scratch or a bruise, on these days.  Thinking positively is slightly inconvenient. Our minds are naturally inclined to the negative, whether we are talking gossip, news, food, movies etc., our mind tends to focus in on the criticisms: the bad rather than the good. Whether our minds are conditioned to this or there is an inherent tendency I don’t know, but focusing on the positive rather than the negative has proven to be healthier.

To change our interpretations of the world, we first have to change the interpretation of ourselves.  We cannot change the media, our friends, or family who criticize us, but we can change ourselves. By taking the time to appreciate our attributes and strengths, we can be more well equipped to combat criticisms. If we take that 85%, and turn even 30% into positivity, we will make so much of a difference in our attitude that people will wonder.  Meditation, putting a conscious effort not to ruminate on the ’bad’, and simple affirmations are some of the countless ways to stay positive.

Thoughts are mostly destructive as they entail rumination and tend to focus on the past or future. Staying in the present (is hard!!) is a sure way to block some negativity. Past and future analysis will cause anxiety. Simple and daily affirmations, to appreciate the self are calming and reassuring ways to positivity. When’s the last time you rolled out of bed without a negative thought such as ‘I’m late for work, I wish I didn’t have to work today, I shouldn’t have seen the movie last night, I have to prepare lunch’, or something of the sort? Can’t remember? Try saying ’good morning’ to yourself; we like when others say it to us, but if we say it to ourselves the effects are far more reaching. Why wait for the compliment, let’s compliment ourselves; why think about how others will judge us when the most important judgment comes from us. So stop negating and start affirming yourself.

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Newton’s law of karma: Hinduism’s law of motion

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who knew Dominos was a game of Karma?

who knew Dominos was a game of Karma?

Science has explained that when any object exerts a force, it is met with an equal and opposite force.  The collision of these two forces result in a movement.  The study of this movement is largely carried out by physicists, most notable of whom gave us our 3rd law of motion: for every action there is an opposite and equal reaction.  The application of this law extends beyond observable actions, such as a fish swimming in water, but affects our thoughts and has an implication in reincarnation.

The notion of reincarnation assumes that each life is a progression of the soul and the Law of Karma is the equalizer of that notion.  Like Newton’s law, the Law of Karma is a law produced by cause and effect. Actions we perform initiate reactions from other people, nature, or from ourselves. Reactions can be observed within minutes, days, years, or lifetimes.  Once we initiate an action, it is recorded in our ‘karmic bank account’ and considering the intent and outcome associated with our action, we receive either good or bad karma.

A boy jumping on the ground is a movement resulting from his jumping force; this force, coupled with the force the ground exerts to push him up results in his movement upwards; this is the law of motion. Intention is a major factor when assessing the karmic value of an action. Him jumping into the middle of the street to save a child is entirely different from him jumping over a fence to get away from the police.

People say that karma is ‘a bitch’. Yes. She is the bitch that bites back, but why? Because we make it so.   It is the man himself who prompts his suffering; every act, word, and thought has a rippling effect; it is this rippling effect that produces karma. So the cause(us) creates the effect (the outcome) and the outcome (the effect of the initial action) acts upon the initial cause (us.) Let me give you an example: when I was in law school I had a professor who after grading one of my first assignments predicted that I would fail out of her class and made other hurtful remarks. Several months later she was diagnosed with cancer.  Thus, she (cause) was rude and inappropriate which (effect) made myself and others doubt our own abilities.  Then she received a diagnosis of cancer (effect) which produced the same anguish and doubt (cause) for her. I’m not certain if this was a genetic limbo or the karmic hand, but I do know she will ‘reap what she has sowed.’

Every time we think, speak, or act we create an observable or unobservable effect.  We unleash an energy into the universe and that same energy finds its way back to us in some form; hence the saying we reap what we sow.  Sourced from the Bhagvad Gita, past Karma predetermines four main aspects of our lives: our birth family, our income level, our education level, and our physical appearance. Just these four factors have a very strong influence on our lives, and then, in addition, we struggle with karmic reactions daily. Although Karma does not eradicate free will, the Vedic texts do tell us that ‘actions are guided by the Law of Karma and free will is very limited.’

Hinduism believes that all souls are eternal and are stuck in this vicious cycle of rebirth: samsara.  Every life is not only a progression of our soul, but is determined by past karmas; good karma elicits good fortune while bad karma results in misery and misfortune.  Although this is far from the complete understanding of Karma, I am not here to preach or promote Hinduism; I am here to heighten the awareness of YOUR soul and internal power. So act consciously because the love, hate, manipulation, or compassion you give to others is what you will get back; in this life or the next.

Please visit http://hinduism.iskcon.org/concepts/103.htm for more information on karma.

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Unconditional love: Crossing the limit when you love someone

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Where I end and you begin

 When we love someone, at what point do we decide that our threshold of tolerance has been exceeded? We all know the concept of unconditional love; we all want to be loved unconditionally, but what does it really mean? Loving someone this way means that there are no expectations, limitations, or conditions to the way you feel. Let’s consider this: loving someone regardless of what may come is a romantic notion, but is it practical? It expels the notion of ‘enough is enough’ and negates your individuality. So we would like to be loved unconditionally, but can we love unconditionally?

Loving someone limitlessly is a tall order to fill. It presupposes the ability forgive, accept, and persevere. Forgiveness, acceptance, and perseverance are virtues we all strive to acquire, but our ego usually gets in the way. Letting go of our anger and pride to forgive, letting go of our prejudices to accept, and persist despite disturbances and disagreement is not the natural human nature. The relationship that comes to mind is that of mother and child; mothers usually love their babies despite who they are and what they do. Loving without expecting to receive anything goes against human nature as well. Our capitalist culture has been ingrained into us that ‘you give to get’; we are programmed in this way and practice this philosophy throughout our lives; in the workplace, in relationships, and in commercial activities. This is tied to conditional love, because it is this philosophy that we base our conditions on. We work for an employer to get money and in return we perform services. Our actions are conditional in this way from the playground: if we work hard we get the A. An example of conditionless love can be found in a true servant of God. They will perform duties and prayers to God without seeking anything in return.

We all want to be loved regardless of our mistakes, our temperaments, and faults. I want that security and assurance, but it requires an almost saintly being at the other end. Unconditionally loving someone requires putting aside your ego, forgetting your principles, and releasing your intolerances. The prime examples are mother/ child relations and servant/ God relations. Even the mother/ child relation tends to evolve over time as loving another human being unconditionally can be exhausting, demeaning, demoralizing, and even damaging as it requires an understanding and acceptance beyond the self. I try to unconditionally love someone and even the attempt I make leaves me feeling used, dejected, and degraded as I have to put aside my own opinions, thoughts, and beliefs for her happiness.

When we love someone we harbor deep feelings for them that usually help to overcome arguments and disagreements, but there comes a point when will not be able to stand for the grave mistakes, the intolerable abuse, or the inconsiderate behaviors that challenge us. Loving another then reaches its optimal point when both parties have a mutual respect and understanding of the others values, beliefs, and temperament. Unconditional love thus becomes a more elevated experience requiring first wholly loving yourself first. Only when you can absolutely love yourself despite your faults, imperfections, and impurities can you even fathom to unconditionally love other.

Everyone has a limit, a tolerance level and when we understand and accept this we end up in harmonious relationships Life is an adjustment so why wouldn’t we adjust for the ones we love.

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The difference b/w spirituality & religiousness

Spirituality and Religiousness
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Spirituality and Religiousness

Spirituality in Religion

The difference between religiousness and spirituality is a question that arises often. I was asked this question in a ‘coincidental’ meeting I had the other day. I was taken by surprise when asked this; usually one gets to reflect and ponder on the differences of such similar constructs. I gave a very succinct answer that I hold to be true. Spirituality is the journey of the soul whereas religion is the journey of the being. Religion is an institution created by people for people. Spirituality is an individual experience for your unique self. Religion is a counseled and commercialized affair of your relationship with God. Spirituality is a private and personalized gateway to realizing your relationship with God. Spirituality is the path we create to gain a higher consciousness to understand ourselves and our relationship with the world, whereas religion is a road we choose to follow with all its dogmas and rules to show and guide us through our relationship with God.

Spirituality and religiousness are different means to the same end. Sometimes your religion will show you the path to spirituality; at times spirituality will open the road to religion, and sometimes a person will find themselves being both religious and spiritual; after all religion is a form of spirituality. I fall into the latter category; I perform the prescribed duties of my religion and duly pay my obeisances to Hindu gods, but I also spend time via chanting, meditation, and exercises that provide me Flow to understand and nourish my soul.

What is interesting is that the Hindu dharam is based in spirituality. It

Religion in spirituality

Religion in spirituality

may be the only religion with this dualism, as the basis of Hinduism is the soul. Hinduism believes in reincarnation and the progression of the Soul so while Hindus may go to temple and duly worship all the deities and, at times get trapped into that daily routine, the basis of Hinduism lies in spirituality and the journey of the Soul.

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A coincidence

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Why did YOU bump into me HERE and NOW?

What a coincidence!” We proclaim that all the time, but is it just happenstance or is there a reason for it? Starting from childhood we encounter and use the concept of coincidence often. What is coincidence? Is it two events that take place randomly and in unison, but seem unlikely to have a propensity to collide in time.

But what really is the probability of a coincidental occurrence? And how often do coincidences really happen? It doesn’t add up, what we term as coincidences occur far more often than mathematically logical.

I think a brilliant portrayal of the likelihood and definition of a coincidence can be found in the poem Design by Robert Frost. This poem details three subjects in nature and their coincidental collision. Or is it coincidental?

I found a dimpled spider, fat and white,
On a white heal-all, holding up a moth
Like a white piece of rigid satin cloth –
Assorted characters of death and blight
Mixed ready to begin the morning right,
Like the ingredients of a witches’ broth –
A snow-drop spider, a flower like a froth,
And dead wings carried like a paper kite.

What had that flower to do with being white,
The wayside blue and innocent heal-all?
What brought the kindred spider to that height,
Then steered the white moth thither in the night?
What but design of darkness to appall?–
If design govern in a thing so small.//

Everything has a design; everything has a purpose; everything and everyone is always accounted for in the circle of life. Every person we encounter, everywhere we go, and every major crossroads in life has a meaning, has a purpose. When I came back from Hyderabad I had lost all hope; why was it then that Bhagvad Gita classes were offered in my complex? Why at the very moment I decided not to continue to follow and have faith in the therapist who brought me to Hyderabad, I met a lady who introduced me to a manifestation of God that I could have faith in. I was introduced to the concept of Quantum Physics almost a decade ago and despite repeated head butts with this concept I refused to understand it, but several weeks ago I read about and understood the concept. Why? Because I was ready to; it is not a coincidence I found relevant a topic that I was introduced to a decade ago. What is the likelihood that these events occurred my life at these particular times by chance?

Just yesterday I had a meeting with someone who had a certain agenda in mind and out of the blue we started talking about spirituality. What we spoke about, the recourses he introduced to me: is it only coincidental or did I meet that particular person at a certain time in my life when I was ready to hear his message?

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Quantum Physics

Quantum Physics
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Quantum Physics

Quantum Physics

I was poor student of science so when I first was introduced to the concept of Quantum Physics I held my breath and refused to swallow. However, several weeks ago I read up on the theory and was able to wrap my head around it within minutes. So this is what I have deduced it to:

1) It is a branch of physics that deals with the nano- smallest of the smaller- particles. It’s implications on the nature of reality are broken into two theories:

  • This theory states that nothing can be quantified definitively because of observer bias. According to this theory Quantum scientists believe that nothing really can have an accurate objective measurement. Example given: the cat experiment

    i. a cat was put in a box {there is no dispute the cat is alive}
    ii. a box of poison is put in the box
    iii. if the cat claws and opens the box, it is dead. If it does not, it is alive
    iv. the cat is alive and dead at this point, it is in both states
    v. only when the scientist opens the box does the can live or die

  • The 2nd theory states that when an action occurs the universe splits itself, accommodating all possibilities. Example given: gunshot experiment

    i. a gun is randomly loaded
    ii. a man plays Russian roulette with himself
    iii. when the trigger is pulled, two universes are created: one in which he dies and one in which he remains alive
    iv. again the trigger is pulled and again the universe further splits
    v. so on and so forth

Based on my brief reading on Quantum Physics there is a larger belief in theory a, however theory b is picking up some momentum.

A] I was introduced to Quantum Physics as it relates to the power of our thoughts. Our thoughts are electrical impulses that are created in the brain. These electrical impulses create an energy, effecting our attitude, behavior, and perceptions. As with any impulse, movement is created that attracts or repels like charged elements. So, if an object is and is not in existence before our thought energy creates a decision as to its existence to US, our thought energy should be formed in such a way that is optimal to us.

In essence then, we create our reality. If the reality in which we have no money, and the reality in which we have money both exist then our thoughts determine which reality we will encounter.

So if we replace our complaints, whines, and negative affirmations with positive, healthy, helpful affirmations we will help create a reality we want.

B] Déjà vu?

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Mental abuse

Mental Abuse
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Mental Abuse

The strangling effects of abuse

Many people are subject to abuse on a daily basis, and many of us are subject to it from an early age. Although the effects of abuse never become less injurious, we do get accustomed to being abused. In childhood when we get poked fun of by other children the scars can reach deep. Belittling comments that are commonplace such as ‘you are fat’ or ‘you are stupid’ may be more or less harmful to a child depending on the self esteem that has been instilled in the child: the stability and security that has been provided to the child, and how often the child is put down.

Generally abuse is learned to be tolerated at an early age. Even if we are not subject to the belittling comments repetedly from others into adulthood, the comment is learned and if we are not provided the stability and security or given enough leverage to develop our self esteem and self confidence the comment is turned into a negative affirmation. So in essence we start abusing ourselves.

Once we start internalizing the negative judgments, disparaging comments, and demeaning actions of others towards us, the abuse begins. A person can be bullied, humiliated, severely tortured for his characteristic {being fat or poor}, his past {decisions or background}, or his beliefs {same sex marriage),and once we internalize and start repeating to ourselves the negative comments of others the destructive aspect of abuse set in.

One can claim sympathy from others and themselves when they succumb to saying they are a victim of abuse. Yes, abuse does exist; yes, there are perpetrators of abuse, but the facilitator that converts the abuse (n) into abusive and debilitating (adj) is the individual receiving the abuse.

When we say or even think that we are victims, we weaken our selves. In the society in which we live there will always be an oppressor and the oppressed; it is the oppressed that defines the cruelty of the oppression.

Let me give you an example, when I was in college (20) I was verbally abuseed by a group of ‘cool kids’; they made fun of the way I walked and called me mean names; although this hurt my dignity and although I did cry I did not let this abuse become abusive. How? Had I ruminated on the nasty names I was called or started feeling sorry for myself due to my walking ability, I would have given them the power to define me and subjugated myself to them and their abuse, instead I got angry, set up meeting with the dean, and forgot about it.

Once we call ourselves victims, once we allow ourselves to consider a demeaning remark someone else says about us: we become abused. All throughout high school I was made fun of for the way I walked and although it did hurt, although I would cry etc. etc. I never let it become abuse by knowing these were ignorant comments. Now I can also say that these comments were more harmful to the commenter’s rather than me.

 

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Happiness- a learned phenomenon?

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What makes us happy when everything adds up to unhappiness?

The age old question. What is happiness? Is it a feeling, an object, attaining a certain status? Can it be measured? Can it be learned?

Isn’t happiness relative to the human being? What I derive happiness from is different from what you may derive it from. Hence it seems from this statement that happiness can be measured. If happiness can be objectified it follows that more of that object will increase our happiness. What are some things that make us happy?

Flowers; smelling nicely scented flowers always bring a smile to my face; waking to a fresh picked bouquet of jasmine flowers started my day on a happy and stress free note, having a bouquet of appropriately arranged (colors depend on the which colors make you happy, for me its vibrant colors i.e. sun yellow. bright pink, tree green, bright blue etc.) placed in my house makes me happy when I look at it. Music; listening to upbeat music always puts me in a happy mood. What are other things that make you happy, comment on this and let me know.

So it follows that if someone places a bouquet of flowers by my night table for me to wake to the scent to, if I place a bouquet of pink and yellow flowers on my table, or if I listen to Batameez Dil (Hindi song) or A thousand years (English pop song) I will be happy? Not really. Happiness then can’t be objectified? I think it can, to a certain extent. Swinging on a swing, listening to upbeat songs, eating thick cheesy vegetarian pizza, and regressing to a child- like state are things that make ME happy. But they can only supplement my happiness that is already there. Do you think if I come home from being humiliated and disrespected a bouquet of strategically placed bright blue and pink flowers are going to change how I feel? No, Objects (flowers), actions (swinging or eating a potato patty), attaining status (getting an A in class or getting a promotion), and other materialistic objects or gains can only give us ephemeral happiness. These things cannot change our mood but gives us pleasurable experience which can help elevate our mood.

Our mood is our emotional state and happiness vis a vis joy, pleasure, satisfaction, etc is one of the elements that get us into a good versus bad mood. Happiness thus is a state, made up of various elements including joy and pleasure that helps us project a good mood. Happiness is subjective, formed by each individual’s beliefs and interpretations, and thus and thus cannot be measured. Different things give us feelings of happiness, our interpretation of external stimuli: swinging on a swing (joy), seeing Mom, (delight), eating pizza (pleasure), hearing Rafat Ali Khan (pleasure) , seeing and smelling bright/ fragrant flowers (pleasure) or writing poetry (content); these things produce feelings of happiness within me, and although these feelings of happiness i.e. joy. pleasure, delight etc. can combine to make me happy and therefore in a good mood, there is not one stimulus that can always guarantee a feeling of happiness. Swinging on a swing will not give me joy if I just had an argument with a friend, writing poetry will not provide me with a feeling of contentment if I am sleepy, eating pizza will not be pleasurable if I have a stomachache etc.

If nothing can guarantee to give us happiness, is it a hit and miss equation? Is there something that can provide us with a static happiness?

YES. I just discovered and will share it with you.

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When prejudice become practice

Prejudice
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Prejudice

Prejudice turns us against eachother

If you are like most people you will deny that you are prejudice. What is prejudice? It’s an intolerance, a bias, or even a disliking that we have. It is natural to have prejudices, but becomes problematic when we become offensive or discriminatory based on them. People learn prejudicial behavior, and if we repeatedly reject or condemn something due to our prejudgments the behavior is strengthened and becomes a form of hate. People generally are scared of what they don’t know and hence construct an opinion based on their notion. If one is too scared, hesitant, or unaware of how to cope with something forming a preconceived notion is the easiest way to understanding that thing.

When I was in high school, my classmates used to call and my lazy and drunk. If you read my story you know that I have a condition and comments like this are hurtful, at the least. My classmates did not know what to make of my abnormal gait, so based on the knowledge available to them [most kids at that age drink and intoxication produces abnormal gait] they jumped to the most logical conclusion [she must be drunk]. Why do people feel the necessity to pass negative comments about what they don’t know? If something is different or deviates from the norm, the instinctive reaction is to condemn it.

Prejudice narrows our vision to Include things we dislike

Prejudice narrows our vision to Include things we dislike

When you force yourself out the natural tendency to form prejudgments you liberate your mind from the bonds that preconceived notions form. Permitting your mind to create, imagine, and think of outcomes different from what your experience says, you allow for a more positive understanding of the outcome. If you form a prejudice based on fear or experience you limit yourself to the negative possibilities that ruminate in your mind. So liberate yourself and start expecting unexpected outcomes.

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Second chances are given in small packages

Small Packages
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All good things come in small packages

Would you give someone a second chance? Most people would like to think they do; but actually our society is very close minded and tunnel visioned. Would you befriend a murderer, or engage with someone who committed a crime?

Most people live in denial as far as our true identities are concerned. We won’t readily admit to personality inadequacies and provide intricately woven manipulations to defend our misguided thoughts or actions. In short, our nature and culture have molded us into very magnanimous hypocrite; telling ourselves we can give second chances when in fact we can’t or don’t.

A Second chance entails redoing something in a different capacity. Were you ever given the liberty to redo an action that resulted in a mistake or rethink a decision that resulted in an unfavorable outcome? Giving second chances implies forgiveness, a toleration most people are not ready or equipped to give. We teach ourselves that it is invaluable to forgive and it is of virtuous character yet fail when we try to attain and apply this virtue.

Recently I was on a blog that asked if you would get married to someone who had a history of cheating. What were the circumstances that resulted in the cheating action? How would the decision to marry be effected if the cheater cheated only once, was caring and loving, cheated on all his partners, or cheated on only his most recent partner? So even though the circumstances under which the negative behavior was acted must be considered; who doesn’t have a history? Some worse than others, but no one has a clean slate. Everyone has a propensity to engage in some adverse behavior, but forgiving the bad behavior can result in changing the behavior.

If everyone judges a person on their past behavior society will go nowhere. People can change, but if we don’t give each other a second chance there will be no reason for us to understand or act differently. If for example a person commits a petty theft, will the label of Thief be applied regardless of the circumstances? And if this label is applied to this person and he has no chance of retribution will he not continue to act in this manner? Words are not empty vehicles.

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The origin of a name

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The evolutionary perspective of a name

The evolutionary perspective of a name

Why is your name Heather, Amanda, Lisa, etc.? Why is my name Alma? Our parents named us when we were born; we might be named after someone or the name might have been decided at the spur of the moment.
I believe everyone comes into this world with a name already assigned to them. My beliefs do not oppose free will; I just believe in karma, destiny (fate) and astrology influence our free will.

My name is Alma, which I disliked as a child, but as I learned the meaning of my name I grew very ford of my name. Alma means soul in Spanish. I do not think it is a coincidence that I have become very spiritually aware and taken interest in matters of the soul. The soul is the essence in Hinduism: the idea of reincarnation supposes that this body is ephemeral, born and disintegrated in the dust whereas it is our Soul that lives on.

I was given the name Alma by my aunt because it was short: why I was named what I am named (being named after someone, some definitions of the name) is of no consequence, I believe my name and hence all names help give definition to who we are. A person is not randomly named as it seems, but the name is fitted to their soul and their predestined journey before they are born.

Every name will not have a specific meaning, but every name has an origin. It may not be so literal; try to look at the origin of your name, you might be surprised.

 

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