What if heaven is not a place where we go, but the state we are in? What if heaven is the way we think and feel in relation to ourselves? A slight change in perception may change our experience in life. We can all define our purpose of living by answering the question Who am I? But, I believe, and many will agree, that our purpose is to be happy and healthy in life, right? Is not the essence of life the journey itself, not the destination?
For me to work with people, serve and heal, first of all, I need to take care of myself. Otherwise, I am not helping anyone. Isn't it true about all of us? Who is responsible for your happiness? Nobody, but you!
I created, and turned into habits, chunks of time that are devoted to cultivating that sense of feeling peaceful, loving, blissful, warm, and at ease with total comfort. Those moments when I find my piece of heaven simply by cultivated quality time with my physical myself, my higher self, God or Higher Intelligence (whatever word resonates with you).
I love my daily routines which I call morning infusions of joy. I set aside 30 min of my time. I prepare my warm water with lemon, nice cup of French press coffee with a favorite Hazelnut creamer. I sit comfortably, being fully present with myself, breathing into the body, keeping it more and more relaxed and soft.
I may take this time to pray, meditate, journal or simply being with myself. Sometimes I put on some music that makes me feel good,or diffuse an essential oil that stimulates my sense of smell in a pleasant way. Or I cover my body in a cozy and warm blanket to give me that sense of love and nurturing.
When I am consistent with my routines, I feel grounded, balanced, centered, and happier, and so I bring that part of me to the world. So, what is your Heaven? What brings you joy and peace? What is your passion? Make it unconditional about you, not people in your life. Perhaps unbelievably, it is not dependent on anyone else.
It is good to be learning baby steps toward unconditional happiness. Although, when it comes down to it, do you want to be happy and live a life of heaven on earth or not? It is a choice of saying to yourself that NOTHING is important enough to diminish your sense of well-being. Stuff happens all the time, some trivial and others, serious, mind challenging events. But is ANY of it worth your personal joy of life? Practice acceptance, which is the art of letting events pass through you, bad ones without resistance, and good ones without clinging.
When you learn to feel happy inside yourself, there is a sense if relaxation and ease in the body. This allows the body to start healing and return to equilibrium. Your body has tremendous wisdom inside, and all you need to do it to align with that by being easy and gentle with yourself. The more you cultivate the feelings of peace, compassion, and joy within yourself, the more your body will respond to those elevated feelings.
What is your heaven? It is not outside of you. It is always inside of you. Only you can find it, or even better, only you can create it, cultivate it and anchor it inside as yours.
In trying to relate more personally to the topic of self-love, one of the loves of my life came to mind . . . dance. I continue to dance as an expression of my joy of life, as something enjoyable that I do, without a lot of reflection, but realize, in this moment, that dance has become part of my being. When dancing, it consumes my awareness, as it takes discipline and concentration to perfect moves on the dance floor, and it comes with unavoidable pain, mostly associated with a leg pull, ankle turn or overstretched muscle.
Like dance, self-love takes discipline and concentration, and if you love yourself enough, you learn to perform through pain by letting it go. While the 7 Steps to Self-Love, as outlined in October's BLOG, are important, the transition to practicing self-love as a way of life also requires Acceptance, Awareness and Inner Strength.
So how do we maintain the practice of loving ourselves?
Many of us grew up in a culture and families where a healthy relationship with one-self was not cultivated and many times diminished, not even taken into consideration or even ridiculed. We all have a tendency to think that we have relationships with others. In reality, the most important relationship we will ever have in our life is the relationship with ourselves. Everything in our life, from health, success, and self -esteem, to how other people treat and trust us, starts with what kind of relationship we have with ourselves.
One of the popular phrases that we hear when we leave the company of others is the saying " Take care of yourself"... a nice and kind thought, but what does it really mean?
On a physical level it means to take good care of one's body and provide it with nutritious food, an adequate quantity of sleep, a proper exercise program, hydration etc.
When I ask my clients the simple question "do you love yourself"?, it is often responded to with a surprise or laughter, or as if there is something strange with that statement. Yet, unconditional self-love and acceptance are very crucial ingredients for a better and healthier quality of life.
How can we get there?
If we spend some time every day cultivating one or more of these 7 steps, day by day we will be walking a path filled with more unconditional self-love, fulfillment, a greater sense of overall well-being and love towards others. The only way to live that way is to reconnect with our true- self. I hope my thoughts inspire you to connect with your heart and live a life that is authentic. There is no better time to start than NOW.
Most of us probably heard it before that everything we truly want and look for is already inside of us. That includes your health and well-being. Yes . . . your health and your well-being.
Nice and sweet concept but what does it really mean and how do I connect or attune with it? We often hear that we are giving our energy and our power away. As interesting as it sounds to many of us, it may appear as an enigmatic statement and what does it all really mean?
Everything in our Universe is composed of matter and energy. Matter is everything that we can perceive with our 5 senses (what we can see, hear, smell, taste and touch). So, people, bodies, building, trees, objects, our body, animals, stars, moon, really everything that is visible to our senses.
Energy cannot be perceived, and it exists beyond our 5 senses, but energy can be sensed and felt with our awareness and consciousness. I am sure that most people can walk into the room of others, and sense if the energy in the air is happy, light, or tense and uncomfortable, right?
So, you cannot touch or smell or see your thoughts, feelings or emotions, but you can become fully conscious of them and know that they exist when you pay more attention to them.
So, the key is the ability to Pay Attention! Paying kind attention, on purpose, and in the moment, is a skill . . . like learning how to tie your shoes, or learning how to walk. Initially it is hard and clumsy, but eventually you can learn it, become better at it and master it.
The ability to pay attention is a very important skill because where you put your attention is where your energy goes. This is very important so I repeat it again.
WHERE YOU PUT YOUR ATTENTION IS WHERE YOUR ENERGY GOES
Most of humanity lives entrenched with everything that is external to them. So, the moment we wake up our attention, it is mostly focused towards the outside . . . to people, situations, Facebook, problems, children, friends, work, spouses, partners, in-laws, money, news, , government, the world, even enemies. . . don't forget your enemies :) . . . and our energy goes to the past, regretting, thinking about the past, and fear and anxiety of the future . . . I am sure you get the idea.
All that precious, mental energy that goes away from YOU, every day, day after day . . . it all becomes a program that runs you. That program can largely consist of simple survival, where the hormones of stress like cortisol and adrenaline are released into the body and we seemingly have no choice but go into the familiar reaction of hide, fight or flight, and simply be victims of our chemistry.
So, if we live like this, day by day, we simply give our energy, which is our power away. When we give our energy and power away, we have no energy for us to heal our body or to create our life the way we want. The body, in a natural way, starts to degenerate and becomes ill, as we are lowering our energy within. We are doing it to ourselves.
Pay attention to where your attention goes, bring it back into you and into the present moment. Meditation is an outstanding tool to learn and teach all of us how to stay present and how to keep your energy inside YOU. Then you can have a chance to heal your body and feel better.
It is so worth it.
Most of you on this email list know me, possibly read a few of my BLOGs, and have benefited from my understanding of the mind-body connection during therapy. Those of you who have embraced mindfulness have commonly reduced your pain and rejected suffering.
In June's BLOG I addressed Our-potential-for-self-awareness, and in May I advised to Let-go-of-pain and in April discussed our Quest-for-the-truth. These were important BLOG topics, each with their own merit, but now we stand on the edge of a Paradigm Shift. What used to be an understanding of illness as strictly cause and effect has grown to changing our way of thinking to affecting the cause through an appreciation of the oneness of the body and mind.
As humans, we are very comfortable with the known and familiar. New information that throughout our history, enters the mainstream, is initially resisted, criticized, and condemned until later, when it is fully understood, accepted as the truth, and a new set of rules is established, creating a new view on reality.
Galileo and Copernicus proved that the earth is not the center of the Universe, but is orbiting around Sun, that new information was not trusted and heavily condemned. It took over 200 years until that truth was fully accepted by people and considered a fact. Can you imagine thinking now that the earth is flat? Nobody would think that today . . .
It feels very antiquated to us now, but at some point, in our history, a flat earth was the perceived truth. Both Copernicus and Galileo were ahead of their time. They helped to shift our awareness to a new reality, it was a paradigm shift from a certain view of the Universe to a new, expanded view of how things really are.
Our predominant model of reality of medicine, our physical body, disease, and aging is based on 17th-centery science. Most medical and dental schools are based on the science, that views physical body as a mindless machine that is composed of chemicals, tissues, organs, and systems, genes that are destined for disease and illness and not influenced by the power of thoughts and feelings. Why is that?
Two famous people started shaping our current Western model of reality in the 17th- century. One of them was French mathematician and philosopher Rene Descartes, who invented the mind-body split. He started the belief system that imposed the duality between the concepts of mind and matter. The second one is Sir Isaac Newton, English mathematician and scientist, who not only solidified the concept of the Universe as a machine, but he also produced a set of laws starting that human beings could precisely determine, calculate and predict how the orderly ways in which the physical world, and the physical body would operate.
About 200 years after Newton, Albert Einstein produced his famous equation E=mc2, demonstrating that energy (which are our thoughts, feelings, and beliefs) and matter (our physical body) are so fundamentally related that they are one and the same. It was over 100 years ago that Einstein's work proved that matter (our body) and energy (our thoughts, feelings, beliefs) are completely interchangeable. Einstein was also ahead of his time, with his work and further research becoming more and more understood, bringing us to the edge of an expanded Paradigm Shift.
The last 20-30 years of research by new bright scientists in the fields of neuroscience, neurophysiology, epigenetics, quantum physics, brain chemistry proves to us that atoms (the very building blocks of our bodies) are mostly empty space; that atoms are energy, and we are built of atoms. Everything that we perceive physical in our life (our body, objects, trees, flowers, animals), is not just solid matter - rather, each is a field of energy or frequency, patterns of information.
This is a very, very exciting time for us to live as we are entering an expanded paradigm of mind-body medicine, where we are NOT just victims of our genes or heredity, when we can learn new ways of thinking, being and feeling to create a new body and reality for ourselves.
We can evolve and be more mindful, teaching our brains new neural responses and realizing the potential of our higher being
Unlike most species in the Animal Kingdom, human beings have the potential for self-awareness. This is so easily forgotten about in the heat of the moment, when anger, for instance, might emotionally override the fact that we as humans have self-awareness as a choice.
Most of us operate on what can be referred to as autopilot, just letting the mind wander into thoughts that require little in the way of conscious guidance. These thoughts are taken from the past or consist of future expectations, but, in an all-consuming way, tend to occupy our current moment. Because of this, often it is not easy to choose mindfulness as we are so accustomed to reacting to the world, to the environment and people or certain situations as an email autoresponder would send the same message to each similar inquiry.
Our behaviors, thoughts, thinking, impulses and feelings are simply downloaded to us through our early conditioning by our caregivers, society, school and various institutions. Many of us, react to everyday situations and triggers in the same conditioned way, as our neurological system is hard wired after years and years of repetitions.
Another aspect that differentiates us from others in the Animal Kingdom is that we store pain, trauma and negative emotions in our body like an emotional memory library. Often, that old pain or trauma, triggered many times, has not much to do with the present situation, and it is hard for us to differentiate what is happening now and what is really being activated in our body from the past. If we repeatedly react in the same way, the brain forms synaptic connections and chemicals in the body. After a while the body and brain acts on your behalf unless YOU choose to stop that same old behavior and chose a better one.
As humans, we have our highly developed frontal lobe of our brain, which is responsible for logic, reasoning, and the ability to choose thoughts, actions, and behaviors, which, in turn, can produce better and healthier outcomes and results. Next time, when the same situation presents itself (and trust me it will, until we learn), and the same old trigger is activated in our body, step back, take a big breath, and ask yourself; What is a better way to respond to this situation? What would be more healthy or mature way of handing this? What would be a response that would be a win-win for everyone involved?
Becoming mindful of every moment, connecting with the breath, slowing down the train of old, conditioned thoughts and beliefs, gives us the power and space to really be in the present moment, to respond in any given situation from the empowered choice. Mindful living needs daily practice and it really takes a commitment to live from a more aware, grounded and empowered state of mind. When we do it consistently, we can hugely enhance the quality, peacefulness and joy in our lives.
We can evolve and be more mindful, teaching our brains new neural responses and realizing the potential of our higher being. We can change our behavior through thoughtful reflection and learn to live better through the power of moment-to-moment awareness.
We all create our own lives as we go along ...and we always have a choice. Astoundingly, recent science proves that there exists a high level of neuroplasticity in the brain, which means we can change the ways in which our brains respond by practicing mindfulness. Not only do we interrupt old ways, but we create new neurological connections through mindful awareness.
"YOU ARE THE CEO OF YOUR LIFE, NOT YOUR PAIN. WHAT YOU
FOCUS ON EXPANDS. LET GO OF PAIN AND START LIVING AGAIN"
The issue of coping with and healing chronic pain can be very tricky, especially if we have been suffering from it for years. Perhaps we went to many different practitioners, hearing conflicting and sometimes scary predictions or opinions of how to deal with or simply accept our own pain.
We may have a strong desire to be pain free, but all of those other feelings flowing through our thoughts about the pain can cancel out the desire to get better. The body is confused. On the one hand, there is a strong desire to get better, but on the other hand lingers all of those thoughts about how that might be accomplished.
I applaud everyone who never gives up on himself or herself, searches for different ways to make pain go away and finds new techniques or practitioners who can help them. I personally believe that all pain can be fully healed, let go of, all without external enhancements.
When we start our Myofascial Release process, it is very important to explain expectations and how therapy will progress. Everyone is different and heals at different rates of speed.
The intent of this Blog is very practical in nature and includes different, important aspects of chronic pain release that have physical, mental and emotional components. We are referring to releasing pain that does not have any underlying medical pathology.
1. As with any Myofascial Release session, initially we want to fully feel and connect with our body, feel and sense the area that is to be treated, fully owning it, sensing it, breathing and feeling underneath it with ease and detachment.
2. Then, follow up on recommended stretches, releases, and breathing. I have noticed that those who do their own home program, are the ones that progress faster and more consistently. At some point, additional exercises will be added that include strength or balance deficits in your body. Remember it is all about balance. It is your own body, take good care of it. Nobody is responsible for it but you.
3. Deep inside, you must believe, strongly believe, that you are going to get better. You need to fully own it and be confident that you can do it. The therapist can guide you, encourage you, inspire you, but the ultimate work is yours. It is your own body. Nobody can really help you or fix you, but you.
4. After a few sessions, you should start noticing the changes that are happening in your body. Initially, they may be small changes, but notice them, appreciate them. The progress happens in small increments and baby steps. It is not going to happen all at once. But as it happens, you may be able to sleep one night better than you did before, notice that, appreciate that, and know that it is possible. It may just take time. It may be in a zig zag way, two steps forward, one step back.
5. Even when you start feeling better, keep listening and tuning into your body. We are so programmed to listen to our minds, that we forget that if we fully connect with our body and have an intimate connection with it, it will send us messages. Just breath and listen. Listen to your own body as to what it wants. It may need a rest, nap or a down time. Many times, we simply do not observe it, as we are too busy taking care of everyone else. Just stop and honor your body.
6. Start training your mind to spend a few minutes every day on visualizing, sensing and feeling how you want to be and NOT on what is. When we live with chronic pain, we all have a tendency to focus on what is, and not on what we want. I do understand that it is hard to direct attention elsewhere when we feel pain, but breaking this constant loop of pain has to start somewhere. See yourself in your minds eyes doing the activity that you love and enjoy, see yourself how you want to be and feel. It may sound like wishful thinking, and many times we feel that we cannot do it UNTIL we feel better, but sometimes you have to create a road map for your mind and body. If we just focus on the PAIN only, it shrinks us and we get the same thing, we just get more pain.
7. Focus and appreciate what is working in your life, what is good, easy and peaceful. Many times, when we have chronic pain, we are so overwhelmed and consumed that we practically forget the whole world. I get it, I know it is hard, but trust me, when you start expanding your awareness beyond your pain and focus on and appreciate what is good, you are mentally taking some energy away from that pain and focusing it on other areas of your life that are working.
8. Appreciate your body. When we have chronic pain, I believe that many times we are really hard on ourselves and our body for letting us down. We may be harsh or critical on our own body that is doing so much for us. Many times I hear people say jokingly "oh just give me a new body"...think about it, if you said it to friend "oh I just need a new friend, not you"...well I am sure that person would not be very nice to you, right? Our body is a magnificent instrument and when we appreciate it and truly take care of it, it will work better with us, not against us.
9. Find little or big things that you enjoy or are passionate about, which are healthy and wholesome. Connect with nature, truly be present when you have a nice cup of tea, take a relaxing bath, open your heart to someone close to you, share your feelings with someone you can trust or write them in your notebook, connect with your higher self, forgive yourself and others.
Letting go of the past is very challenging for all of us. Often, we carry all that past emotional energy and store it in our body, carrying it with us like a heavy suitcase that we truly do not need. If you find your mind going back into the past, redirect it, and focus its attention on your breath and the present moment.
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"MAYBE THE THRILL OF LIFE IS TO DISCOVER IT ALL ON OUR OWN, IN MOMENT-TO-MOMENT AWARENESS"
Wouldn't it be great if when we are born we were given that awesome book or manual with detailed instructions on how to live this life? And all our questions were eloquently answered like why we are here? What does it all mean? What happens when we die? Why do we get sick? How can we be happy and create the life that we truly want?
But maybe it wouldn't...maybe the thrill of life is to discover it all on our own....
Probably just few of us are born in wonderful circumstances where there is a lot of wise, mature and nurturing behavior and examples around us in our early formative lives. As I observe life it seems that the majority of us learn through trials and tribulations, emotional or physical pain, trauma, illness and other unpleasant circumstance of our lives.
I definitely was this type of a curious child, who was asking tons of questions about life, existence, why we are here? Where do we go after we die? Etc. - I wanted to know the truth about life. That thirst for the answers lead me to read many books about philosophy, psychology, how to reach human potential, religion and spirituality, biology, how the mind - body and spirit are connected. I also have taken many seminars and courses on human development, personal growth and spiritual empowerment.
A lot of that searching and curiosity, I believe was coupled with a deep grief, sadness and confusion related to the fact that between the ages of 4 and 15 I lost 5 close, relatively young (48-62 years old) family members to various chronic illnesses.
I was first introduced to Transcendental Meditation back in Physical Therapy school during our first psychology semester many years ago. Right from the beginning it really intrigued and fascinated me. Ever since that time and then in my early 20's, after someone handed me the book "You can heal your life" by Louise Hay, I realized that I am finally tapping my toes into something that I was searching for a long time, but had no idea what it was.
The more I read and enjoyed meditation, the more my appetite grew. I was sensing that I was moving into a much bigger dimension that my five senses could detect or be aware of. I was becoming more excited about discovering another way of being, in reference to myself first, and the world around me.
When I was 24 years old, I lost my Dad to cancer at his young age of 62. That profound sadness again made me want to go even deeper for meaning and purpose.
As I have been meditating over the years, growing and evolving, reading and learning, I realized that this life is a beautiful process of unfolding of our true self. It takes a lot of work and dedication. It is a nice intellectual concept that we hear in our religious classes that we are all children of God. It is nice to hear it, but to fully feel it, which is feeling good most of the time, most of the life - is a completely different thing, especially when it is mirrored by many painful and sad circumstance in our life, over which we may have no control. This is the work of learning and unlearning that true happiness is really an inside job.
It takes work. It mostly takes dedication and self-awareness. Brutal self-honesty. To let go of everything that we learned, accumulated and have been conditioned to, that simply was not the truth about us, or who we really are. It is not always easy to let go of reactivity to the outside world. To sense that everything that is triggering us about others, is really inside of us to uncover and let go.
When we start perceiving mediation, not as a nice tool to quiet our mind, but an elegant and grounded way of living, we really start tapping into true happiness, which is not dependent or contingent on external circumstances or anyone's behavior or action toward us.
When we start living our life with deep, relaxed, grounded and confident self-awareness, we start approaching a new way of life, which is based on freedom and deep inner peace.
If we could simply learn to accept each and every moment of life precisely as it is, without the internal resistance, and give ourselves the permission to be as we are at the given moment... If we could become more present to our own awareness and allow our own emotions, thoughts, and feelings to simply be as they are.... And, with that allowance, over time they lose the grip on us, so we can feel freer inside and shine from our true light and awareness.
The key to everything is really self-awareness. All we can do it take one day at a time, being fully present in it.
About 1 in 3 people have at least mild insomnia. Many poor sleepers have developed poor sleep habits. In the long run, taking sleeping pills isn't effective. To improve sleeping habits and make lasting changes, we need to address the chemistry of the body, mental-emotional aspects, and the environment where we sleep.
When we do not sleep well, we are not going to function optimally or feel our best. Good quality sleep is crucial for the restoration of the physical, mental and emotional parts of us. If a person does not sleep well or long enough, they cannot lose weight, they cannot keep the immune system at its highest level, the connective tissue cannot repair itself, and we are going to have stressful dreams. Chronic sleep deprivation leads to mood changes, depression, low energy level, poor judgment, and being prone to accidents and injuries.
Here are 3 facets of getting a good night's sleep:
Chemistry of the Body
Environment where we sleep
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