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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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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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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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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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