Category: Law of Allowing/Attraction

The Science Behind Laughter

Is laughter really the best medicine? We hear this saying all the time, and it can be easy to roll our eyes at when we’re not feeling so great. Whether it’s stress caused by outside situations that’s bringing you down, or internalized negativity, sometimes the last thing you want to do is laugh. Still, don’t we always feel noticeably better after a good laugh? Or don’t we feel like a weight has been lifted when you finally break down and laugh so hard you cry after a full day of everything-feels-like-it’s-going-wrong moments? The truth is that laughter is a kind of medicine – and not just because it makes us feel better emotionally! There’s a science behind it that proves just how positive laughter can be in your life (especially when you’re feeling down).

Laughter Gets Your Blood Flowing

The act of laughing dilates your blood vessels, improving the blood flow all over your body. Increased blood flow improves brain function, muscle function, and the function of most of your organs. It also decreases the chance of cardiovascular disease. So, just by improving blood flow, laughter helps to improve the functionality of the rest of your body. The increased blood flow also releases T-cells, B-cells, and Gamma-interferons, all of which boost your immune system.

Laughter Chills You Out

Feeling stressed? Overwhelmed? Laughter is the cure. The act of laughing releases endorphins, much like exercise does. These endorphins leave you feeling positive and relaxed. But, that’s not the only way laughter works to calm you down! When you laugh, your body reduces its output of stress hormones like cortisol and epinephrine. Laughter is very literally taking away your ability to hold on to stress.

Laughter Yoga

If you want to use laughter in your life, consider laughter yoga. The concept behind laughter yoga is that voluntary laughter acts the same as involuntary laughter. Some liken it to internal jogging – it’s an exercise for your mind intended to release the positive endorphins and reduce stress hormones. If you’re feeling a little nervous about trying it out for the first time, I recommend starting with this simple breathing and relaxation exercise:


Everything You Have Ever Wanted is on the Other Side of Negativity

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However you envision your life is how it will be. This sounds like a simple philosophy, and it’s true. When you think negatively about your life, or you tell yourself your wildest hopes and dreams can’t possibly come true, you immediately give truth to those thoughts. This is a difficult cycle to break, because negativity acts as a kind of cyclical trap. Once you feed negative thoughts by giving them truth, they have influence over your reality. And when your reality is negative, you’ll continue to think negatively about your present and your future.

This doesn’t have to be true for you. Think about your deepest dreams and desires for your life. Envision how you would feel if they were your reality. You can have more than one. You can think that these dreams and desires feel crazy given where you are in life right now. But the truth is that these dreams are possible. You can achieve them, and the path to start doing so is on the other side of negativity.

Whether your goals have to do with your personal self, your professional self, or your relationships with others, accept them. Release the overwhelming negativity or fear that’s holding you back and leaving you feeling stuck in a damaging thought cycle. Instead, embrace your deepest dreams and desires. Make an active decision to think positively about them, even if it doesn’t feel natural at first. Once you start trying to think positively about your dreams and desires, they become achievable. They enter your realm of possible reality. Your dreams become your goals, and your goals become life as you know it. All with the power of positive thinking.

You can achieve all that you dream of once you are on the other side of negativity. The key is making positivity a habit. Give truth to positive thoughts surrounding your goals and dreams, not negative ones. The negative thoughts exist, and they’re natural, but they don’t deserve your time, energy, or focus. I know that you can achieve these dreams and desires, and I know you will find yourself in a wonderful place on the other side of negativity. Are you already thinking more positively about the life you dream of for yourself? Doesn’t allowing a sliver of positivity to shine through brighten your world? Your dreams are achievable once you believe that anything is possible – because you’ve given truth to your positive thoughts.


Expanding the Heart

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Our remedies oft in ourselves do lie” William Shakespeare

“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” This quote from the children’s story, The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, bears a universal truth. Love, connection to self and others, and a deeper understanding of life, creates peace and happiness. Last week, we looked at how life long learning benefits your body, mind, and spirit. Knowledge is like love; it springs from a sundry of sources and is obtained only when we are open to it. Schools and colleges provide fodder for your mind what about your heart; the seat of seeing the unseen, the understated, the unspoken. When you grow in wisdom, you learn how to see the world through the eyes of your heart center.

In modern society, you are encouraged to pursue an education and this is sound positive advice. There is a freedom in learning, but equally important is to not fall into spiritual complacency. When is the last time you let go of fear and danced into the day or stopped to admire the cloud formations? Perhaps you have everything you could possibly ask for and still find yourself disgruntled or hungry for more meaning and inspiration in your life.

Like the brain, our heart is an organ but it also literally and figuratively, transports the life force that courses through us. How do we learn to access and increase these subtle energies? First, by being mindful, present in each moment. Naturally this takes time and practice as well as learning ancient and contemporary philosophies that offer guidance and insights. There are thousands of books and websites that can help enlighten us.

Other ways to enhance your spirituality are to tune inward to the energetic fields within. Perhaps read about the chakras, the seven subtle energy centers that when working together create a sense of balance and harmony. Take an active role in raising your consciousness through meditation, positive affirmations, and healing therapies such as acupuncture, sound vibration, and Reiki. By educating our inner selves we begin to peel the layers of fear or negativity away. When we learn to empower our hearts we toss out the stories that keep us paralyzed and separate from our true self. The self that is not influenced by social expectations or age or status in life.

Learning how the lattice work of invisible energies influence your life, can raise your awareness and help you heal the heart. Trying cultivating a mindful attitude towards the inner selves that are at play within you. Respectfully acknowledge these varying energies and explore the many ways that offer healing. For example, if you feel chronically tired, perhaps the fatigue stems not from the physical but rather from a sense of spiritual depletion. Your heart feels heavy, maybe try taking quiet moments throughout the day to acknowledge your spirit, to let it feast on a positive mantra or reading.

Let go of the kinetic call of multi-tasking, look at how you can simplify your life to carve out more time for sitting in stillness or to pray or meditate, to literally reconnect with the energies/spirit within. To listen to the inner voices calling for more love and less anger. Look for the answers by going inward. Yoga is a wonderful practice that combines the healing of mind, body, spirit. There are hundreds of different styles to choose from. Or maybe read a book on energy medicine or the Tibetan healing through sound. Explore the different spiritual practices that may resonate with you.

Whatever route calls you home to your heart, follow it to find the bliss that comes from learning the language of love, which over and over again will guide you to a more fulfilling life.


Will This Matter in 5 Years?

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In some cases, stress can be healthy. The ability to feel stress or anxiety is a result of our fight or flight response that have helped humans survive and succeed for so long. Feeling stress is natural; about finances, relationships, big-moment life decisions…these stresses exist for a reason. It’s our inherent way of focusing on what’s important and guiding ourselves to make positive decisions that bring joy or health to our lives.

But what happens when we stress about the small things in life? What happens when we let the anxiety behind being unable to control whether it rains, whether rescheduling an appointment will cause confrontation, or whether our spouse wants seafood or Thai for dinner on Saturday negatively impact our lives?

We live in a world where controlling even the smallest details of life can feel immensely important. This is partially because it’s so easy to control the small stuff in the 21st century. The ability to be constantly connected, schedule every aspect of life, and have immediate access to nearly everything makes it easy to feel all-powerful. It can feel like we’re in control of everything! Unfortunately, sometimes the stress that accompanies controlling these details isn’t worth dwelling on.

The stress that comes from feeling out of control is truly a vicious cycle. We become stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed by a situation that is beyond our control, no matter how small. Then we become stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed by our emotions and our inability to control them. The cycle continues, and it rarely benefits us emotionally. In fact, it’s usually harmful to the way we approach the world. Think of all the things we miss because we’re mired in our own stress.

As you look ahead, I challenge you to ask yourself this when feelings of stress creep up: Will this matter to me in 5 years?

If the problem you’re experiencing stress over won’t matter in 5 years, stop stressing about it. Release the need to control the outcome. Eliminating the need to control small details of life opens you up to live more fully, free of insignificant stress. It also opens you up to focus on the feelings of stress that crop up around dilemmas that will matter in 5 years – those “big moment” life choices that deserve extra consideration.

It would surely be a magical feeling to live a completely stress-free life. Stress is a result of being in situations where the outcome is not guaranteed. Rather than denying yourself the right to feel stress, refocus your stress on dilemmas that will have a long-term impact to make better use of the stress reaction.

Remember, when you begin to feel stressed, assess whether it will matter in 5 years. If not, stop stressing.

 


Truly Celebrating Valentine’s Day

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It’s the time of year where stores are covered in displays of hearts, sales on gifts for that special someone takes over advertising, and expectations for romance are at an all-time high. But are these expectations healthy? Getting involved in Valentine’s Day is overwhelming for some as they focus themselves on what they “should” be doing to express love for their partner, or what they “should” expect from their significant other, but there is a healthier approach. Focusing on the “shoulds” of life and love is always a recipe for negativity.

Valentine’s Day is fraught with expectations – many of which are implied by companies looking to make an extra few dollars on a dozen roses, a box of chocolates, or a sweet card. These things themselves aren’t inherently negative, but the pressure surrounding them certainly causes plenty of individuals to be discontented. If you’re in a relationship, there’s an expectation to make it a day that fully celebrates your significant other, more so than every other day that you love and cherish them. If you’re not in a relationship, there’s an expectation that you’re searching for love and will be thrilled if it magically comes together by Valentine’s (and crushed if you’re alone without a date).

However, these expectations are fully under our control. You have the power to shift your expectations to something more positive, and frankly, more in line with the holiday’s true intent – celebrating love. This Valentine’s Day, the choice is yours. Your day does not need to center on this notion of the romantic ideal. Wouldn’t it be better to spend that energy on truly celebrating those you love, however you prefer to do so?

Rather than focusing on what societal expectations are for Valentine’s Day this year, empower yourself to celebrate the many kinds of fulfilling loves in your life. Maybe that love is shared with a significant other, or between you and your family, or with your closest friends, or maybe it’s just the love you have for yourself and who you have grown into as a person. Love is not exclusive, and Valentine’s Day doesn’t belong only to the bouquet of roses you’re expecting from your partner.

This is a time to embrace the love you have in your life right now and joyfully revel in all the positivity it brings you. Whatever your love life looks like, take Valentine’s Day to celebrate these meaningful connections and relationships rather than dwelling on what material gifts or displays of love you expect out of your current or desired romantic relationship. This could mean reconnecting with an old friend, meeting a beloved family member for lunch to catch up, enjoying time to yourself with your favorite cup of coffee, or, yes, taking focused time to appreciate your romantic partner for all that they are to you.

Don’t get lost in the desires for romantic overtures and the pressure of expectations this season. Instead, this Valentine’s Day, allow positive energy and the powerful existence of all the many kinds of love in your life be celebrated without expectation – only deep appreciation and contentment.


Return to Love Again & Again

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The Beatles popularized the phrase, “All you need is love” and to some this may sound trite or over simplified, but it is based literally on ancient philosophical truths. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr said, Darkness cannot drive out darknessonly light can do thatHate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Do you ever feel overwhelmed navigating through a world that sometimes feels hollow and made of steel emotionally? How do you cultivate love when confronted with bigotry and misogyny or any other misguided negative attitude? Returning to the essence of love within you will stave off the blues and keep your heart healthy physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

How do we define love? There are a plethora of loves; love of country, love of an activity, love for yourself or a friend, love of family, love between two partners. In other words, what type of love are we talking about here? Philosophical love, love that transcends the limitations of our inner and outer worlds. Love that acknowledges others and never acquiesces to hatred. My grandmother used to say, “Never say never.” And she was right, there are travesties that are so appalling, it is easy for the seed of hate to flourish. Yet, even then, if you are consumed with hatred, like a small grass fire gone awry, the consequences are devastating.

The Greeks, who defined six different kinds of love, called this universal love Agape. Eventually Agape was translated in Latin to caritas, which became the origin of the word charity. In the Theravada Buddhist tradition this is called mettā or “universal loving kindness” All spiritual traditions and practices address this type of love. How do you apply this kind of love to your everyday life without feeling fake or put on? Like most things, it takes conscious practice and willingness to journey inward. You don’t need to conform to any one particular spirituality, in fact, I urge you to explore: “It is proper for you to doubt .. do not go upon report .. do not go upon tradition..do not go upon hearsay.” (Buddha, Kalama Sutra).   In other words, it’s essential to survey and study that which resonates with you. There is a banquet of philosophies on love to choose from. Find quotes that speak to your heart, keep them close to you when you need a little bolster.

Practical ways to develop a loving heart is to learn about yourself and others. The more we know and love ourselves the easier it is to open a closed fist and to reach out. For example, if I am in a grumpy mood one day and someone does a kind deed, opens a door for me, this will soften my edge. This act of loving kindness then has a ripple effect spreading out into the world. One person, you, us, can make a difference. We all have the capacity to allow love to grow our empathy for others. We may be unable to reach everyone, but like that old Chinese proverb says, “you climb a mountain one step at a time.” It has been physiologically proven that putting on a smile, when you’re feeling unhappy, changes the chemistry of your blood; all of the stress hormones drop. One simple practice can change a negative into a positive and that positive fosters love.

You may never know the impact your love and generosity has on the world. I once heard a tale about a Holy man who lived in a very small village. He asked God why he couldn’t be moved to bigger more prominent place where his work could touch thousands more than this small community he was stuck in as the spiritual leader. But alas, the man carried on his good deeds for years and eventually died, never having been relocated from his village. When he met the Sustainer he asked why this was? Then, he was shown all of the people he inadvertently helped and how they went on to help others and so on. This story stuck with me. It reflects that part of us that wants to be recognized and rewarded. It reminds me that an act of love, kindness or generosity by definition expects no reward. The act is the reward.

Stories such as those remind us over and over that the power of love can impact our world. Love guides us during duress; it is a road map that can lead us to safe shores when we feel lost or confused. That we do have a choice and that our chosen weapon to dissolve hatred is loving kindness.

 


Connect Within

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The unfolding of a new year gives us a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with ourselves, that part within we perhaps call spirit or essence. As we take stock of our physical health, it is equally as valuable to get a psyche check-up, to quietly enter that realm of your being that is unique authentic, unspoiled. You may ask the questions: Where am I on my journey? Does the direction I am moving in match my intention? You may also contemplate your life’s purpose, which may be many folds. To realize yourself more fully takes courage and reflection.

Once you take the time to travel inward, stay for a bit. Clear away all of the stresses and influences that don’t really represent your true feelings or passions. How can you simplify? What practices can you begin that will move you closer to the vision of your best self?

Science tells us it takes twenty-one days to create a habit. What positive habit do you want to implement into your life? For example, maybe you want to stop reaching for your phone or device first thing in the morning. You would prefer to start your day reading reflective material to set an encouraging tone for you day. Place the materiel you want to read where your phone would have been, do this for 21 days and reap the rewards. Connecting within will help you realize these missing bits of your life that can have a profoundly positive impact.

Begin to listen to your inner voices, those aspects of you that may feel neglected. The artist, the writer, the reader, the contemplative. Modern society has most of us conditioned to keep moving, we are sold the idea that stopping for an inner break costs too much time and money. Saadi of Shiraz one of the major Persian poets and influential literary men of the medieval period wrote: 

Things that come easy don’t last long

In China it took forty years to make a porcelain bowl,

while a hundred a day pour out of a kiln in Baghdad.

Which is worth more?

A chick fresh out of the egg pecks its own food,

while an infant remains helpless for many years.

The first never raises its gaze from the ground,

while the second can find stars and galaxies within.

In other words, exploring your values in your inner life takes time; there is no app to click or short cut, which is why we often call life a journey. By checking in, you see how your navigation is going. Have you gotten off course or has your desired destination changed, altered with the wisdom of time? Similar to a marriage or relationship with a partner, to keep it healthy you need to hear one another. It is the same with the self.

How then do you go about connecting within? How do we practice presence from that heart space all of us have? One simple suggestion is to carve out time for stillness. Rather than pile more on your daily to do list, take something off and replace it with meditation. If you are allergic to the word meditation, you can talk a walk, without your headphones. Or if you live in the city, walk with quiet lulling thoughtful music that beckons your inner thoughts. Listen a little less to news. A fifteen-minute reflection can refuel your commitment to living a life that you yearn for rather than feeling as though your destiny is in the hands of others. Read reflective books and let the works marinate into your psyche. We often over expose ourselves to harsh corrosive stimuli, how about swapping that out for books, podcasts or CD’s that support our inner growth?

As 2017 evolves, give yourself the gift of time. Time for inner perspective to hug that person waving from the vista of your true self and enjoy the delightful discoveries that shape your life’s happiness and purpose.

 


The Magic of Music

There are times in life when challenges on our time and resources exceed our ability to satisfy them. This affects our moods and feelings and often we do not realize that we have a choice over what we feel. We know that our thoughts are the wellspring of both. However, there is another way to change our moods and feelings. Music. Music has the power to restore your body, mind, and spirit. It is mystical, spiritual and has extraordinary effects on the brain.

You don’t have to go to music therapy to reap the benefits of music. Author and composer, Elena Mannes, found that “scientists have discovered that music stimulates more parts of the brain than any other human function.”   Think about when you hear a particular song or score that takes you back in time or generates a strong emotion. When you feel deprived of time to reflect or need a haven to slip away to, turn on the tunes and rekindle the magic of music.

Music works on the autonomic nervous system – the part of the nervous system that regulates blood pressure, heartbeat and brain function. When you listen to soothing sounds, there is a physical reaction, your blood pressure drops and your heart rate slows. Music also influences the limbic system, the center that controls emotions. When you play slow rhythmic music, your muscles release tension, you breathe easier and your mind relaxes; a no side effect prescription for creating a sense of calm.

There are a plethora of benefits music provides; scientists found that when people listen to slow musical beats their brain waves mimic that of a person meditating. Using music as a therapy for quieting the mind also works on children. As parents, you may feel exasperated at times by the barrage of stimuli your children endure. Try playing soft soothing tunes to your child when they are doing their homework or are acting out. You may find playing this type of music with your child also helps both of you focus. With the calming effect of music, your mind can zone in on completing a task, without getting frustrated or anxious.

When your energy is depleted and you need a boost or if you are feeling overcome from the doldrums of daily living, try playing music. Music is multifaceted, in that it also has the power to ease depression and to elevate your mood. It increases the release of dopamine in the brain (the feel good hormone) that produces a sense of happiness and well-being. Researchers have found that the genre of music that you listen to does matter. Classical and meditative songs were the most beneficial; heavy metal and techno music can actually make depression worse. Only twenty minutes of listening can uplift your mood and help give you a new, lighter perspective on life.

Cultural music is another way to reconnect with the world around you. Often it matters little that you may not understand the words. The tempo and lure of the emotions behind a song can set you soaring. It stimulates the imagination and contributes to creativity. For children, this can be a wonderful lesson of the universal language of music or a reminder of their own unique heritage.

There are wonderful new ways to discover music now. Pandora, Spotify, even YouTube all offer free listening and you can select a genre that suits your needs. Perhaps this is the day you re-discover your love of music. Play a favorite song and sing along or let go; dance in the living room and revel in music’s beautiful ability to connect us to others and ourselves.music 2


Moving Forward

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“Try not to become a person of success, but rather try to become a person of value.” Albert Einstein.

For most of us, the onset of a new year brings a renewed sense of starting over, clearing the slate, recommitting to change. You may revel in the accomplishments of the bygone year while lamenting over losses or achievements left unfulfilled. Perhaps you are experiencing a lingering weariness from the holidays and getting back on track seems a bit arduous. How do we find that balance of relishing what has passed while keeping the faith for what is yet to come? In other words, how can we refuel our ability to move forward?

Take an honest look at all the challenges you have faced thus far and give yourself an enormous pat on the back. We do this for others with ease, but when it comes to acknowledging our own successes, the list is often skimpy. Recall the days you were tired but cared for your family despite the fatigue or the extra efforts you made for a friend or a colleague. Remember your new habit of drinking more water or eating less sugar or breathing before reacting. Success is the sum of all the small steps you take along the way. Honor yourself for the courage it took to overcome life’s hurdles. When we remind ourselves of our unique victories, no matter how large or small, we renew our conviction to infinite potential and possibility.

Evaluate your definition of what constitutes being a successful person. Are integrity and kindness factored in? Moving forward sometimes means taking some time to examine your values and goals. Do you yearn for more meditative time or a less hectic lifestyle? Then moving forward may mean subtracting; and taking out the tedious nonessentials that keep you from achieving that goal. As the saying goes, less is more. Substituting the urge to acquire more things for the desire to simplify or de-clutter may free up time for creative endeavors. Perhaps moving forward means loosening the reins of controlling a loved one. The side effect is more time to be present in your own life to be free from judgements and expectations that don’t belong to you.

Believe that change can happen. Human beings are dynamic, our cells are continually rejuvenating themselves. If you took a MRI of your body today and another in a few months, they would look different. A close friend of mine has a favored quote “the one thing we can rely on is change.” It happens whether we want it or not. Choose to be an active participant in the kind of change that shapes your life in the way you envision it.

Moving forward means developing patience and steadfastness. When you read about a writer celebrating their award winning novel or a teacher being rewarded for their contributions, what lies under the surface is the years of plodding ahead with no reward in sight. There is no such thing as an overnight sensation, despite what the tabloids may have us believe. Every stride towards being a whole individual is a step towards creating a meaningful life.

Remember, it is never too late to hop on the train and travel to your next destination. No matter your age or circumstance, you have the innate ability to change, to move forward. Each day we are given a new opportunity to start again. And although you may have setbacks, perhaps they are simply necessary rest stops to peer back over the terrain you’ve crossed until that next whistle blows and onward you go.


Self-Care

Winter for many is a time when colds and flus become a menace in our lives. If this is true for you then finding ways to stay conscious of what your body is telling you is paramount. Notice things like if you feel more tired than usual, or a tiny tickle in your throat, as such observations and treating them can be the difference between having a cold and it developing into flu.

Many of us are taught not to trust our bodies. If you listen, your body will tell you when it is time to slow down. Often we wait until someone of authority such as a doctor or our mother tells us to rest or to take a preventative homeopathic remedy, rather than thinking of it ourselves. By listening to our bodies and trusting in them we begin to take better care of ourselves. By being more aware of our bodies we may prevent or lessen the impact of the colds and flus we encounter during the winter season or any season.

Self-care is a lifestyle; it incorporates daily habits to ensure that you are taking time for yourself in the best possible ways – physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

Some ideas on how to enrich your practice of self-care on a daily basis:

  • Every morning set your alarm early to allow for 10-20 minutes of meditation.
  • Following your meditation do a quick body scan. This will allow you to hear what your body has to say.
  • Mindfulness will help you slow down and notice the details around you and within you. Once you are more aware, you might notice that tickle in your throat before it becomes a cough. For example: Every time you touch your phone, think about that phone. What color is it, what is the shape, how does it feel against your hand? Doing this will help you be in the moment every time you touch your phone. Eventually this will begin to occur naturally with other things or events as well.
  • Unplug! Sleep better and leave your devices outside of the bedroom at night.
  • Exercise in whatever way appeals to you. Walk, dance, swim, yoga, the gym. Do something, even if it’s for 10 minutes in your living room. Exercise increases blood flow.
  • Make small changes to create a healthy diet. Establish a routine for meals. Drink more water.
  • Take power naps. 10 to 20 minutes once or twice a day.
  • Establish a regular bedtime routine in the evening and plan for 7-8 hours of sleep. Your body will tell you how many hours you need, listen to it.

               catcleaning“Make yourself a priority in your life. Afterall, it’s your life.” Akiroq Brost