Whenever we think about the center of our emotions, we think of our hearts. Terms like “Heartbreak” and “Think with your heart, not your head” and so on reaffirm this every day. As I go deeper into exploration into the way our bodies work energetically, I have learned that all of our organs have “emotions” and in fact they can produce “emotional hormones” as well. Our organs physically have well defined roles within the body, and they function as intended when the soul/spirit is in balance, we are taking care of our needs, eating well etc. When our spirit is out of balance, we then create a “holding on” energy transmission throughout our bodies. In Chinese medicine, it is our organs that hold onto emotion. Liver is the site for anger, and liver issues stem from the inability of properly addressing and releasing this emotion. Holding onto anger, frustration, jealously, can cause physical liver issues over time. Anger also speeds up our digestion which is at the expense of us not spending the proper time with our food to extract it’s much needed nutrients. Think of your reaction to fear, one of the first things we do is “hold our breath” and that is because our lungs are the organ known to hold onto fear if it is not released. We breathe shallower when we are scared or stressed, and we all know how damaging living with stress over time can be. Your gallbladder holds resentment. People harboring this emotion, cause an imbalance of bile production and can eventually cause it to be removed. Of course the liver can take over the gallbladder’s functions as it can also produce bile, but with the liver already having over 600 tasks to perform, it’s best to have a little help. Worry is held in the spleen. If you are a “worry-wart” it may be best to rethink, as you are hurting more than your quality of life. Worry and sadness slows your digestion, not only your inability to “move forward” on an issue your facing. Getting now to the heart. Your heart is the channel to which your emotions release through. Through breathing, opening the chest, crying, yelling into a pillow, whatever it takes to open your heart and let it out, and let it go. If you don’t, and eventually an organ like say, the gallbladder is removed, the energetic body of that organ remains, and the emotion still needs to be dealt with. But now, your physical body is working harder without that organ, hoping you have learned this lesson!
When I first started learning about energy, I was most fascinated by the way humans energetically exchange information. We actually give off a first impression even before we think we do. Ever been standing in line at a grocery store, and immediately you get a feeling for the person ahead of you? It may feel like this person is stressed out or maybe, you feel a vibe and want to get to know them better, all of this before you have exchanged a single word. Have you noticed some people have a presence that makes you think they are larger than life, and then the next person you see you didn’t even know they were there? We are always communicating energetically! Your energy is an immediate, accurate reflection of how you are (and who you are) right now, and cannot be masked even behind the best poker faces. Your energy is valuable, because it speaks volumes about you; it is you. Remember this as you are going about your day and ask yourself, how much of my day am I exchanging energy with stressful, negative people or situations? Could I be exposing my being and energy to a more positive life full of great influences? Even just intentionally observing ourselves helps us become aware and we naturally shift our lives for the better!
It happened to me today. In a perfect moment of animated suspension I felt it, not just felt, but overwhelmed by it.
Once and awhile, when I am lucky enough to be unconditionally in the present moment, void of worry, struggle, and sitting the knotted tangles of my life it appears.
One could call it bliss, joy, or happiness and all of those descriptions would be true, but there is something more, something….
It comes without warning, or encouragement from my surroundings. It doesn’t require exciting news or good fortune to emerge from within me, and all around me at the same time.
And the tears stream down my face as the warmth from the sunshine cakes the slightly salty path down my cheeks. I can feel the energetic exchange happening between my body, like there is no line in the sand between me and ….everything.
I inhale it deep enough to feel it in my toes, and it fills my heart. I open my eyes and see this life in pure gratitude.
And I plant the seed of hope that, in this life, there are so many more moments.
Just like this.
Does the thought of being still with no background noise, no TV, and no computer seem daunting?
In a society that rewards the busy people who work hard, and scoffs at those whose need a minute to breathe, its no wonder we have lost our way. Tick tock, time is money, right? A lesson learned right from the schooling years, where working is productive, stillness is slacking. When you think about it, school is a training ground for society in more than the knowledge it offers, but in it’s factory-like design. Whether you have traded in your school desk for a cubicle, factory line, or dentist chair, we are trained to work when “on the clock”, break only during specific times (if we even take them!). I was surprised to realize that this is a fairly recent concept, that evolved only within the last 100 years or so.
When I was in Grade One, I was like every other kid. Always busy, full of energy, I could run around playing all day without missing a beat. One day a Yoga teacher came into my gym class, and worked us through a slow movement class, with a guided meditation at the end of it. Pretty ambitious for a group of six year olds who cannot even sit still. Nevertheless, she persevered through, and although I didn’t know what it was at the the time, the experience became one of the most life-changing moments of my life. I remember laying on my back visualizing a beach ball rolling on the beach, the sound of the waves, and the heat of the sun as she described them to me. Then, there was nothing but quiet. What happened next I couldn’t describe at the time, but it had felt like I had fallen into a deep sleep although I was aware, and time stood still as my mind completely silenced and my body stilled. It may have only been minutes, but it felt like I was there indefinitely. As we slowly awoke out of this state I remember thinking that I don’t know what this just was, but I knew it was the best feeling I had experienced in my short time on this planet. I remember wishing I had asked the teacher what it was we just did, but alas I was a shy kid, and alas never did get the answer to my question until many years later.
It’s not a stretch to say society is probably at an all time out of control stress level. In our frenzy of working, consuming, and striving to achieve there is little time to stop and recharge. I too, was caught up in the race for all of my twenties, and well into my thirties. A chance discovery of the yoga world finally answered my question about my experience in Grade One. I had entered a deep meditative state, a state of pure bliss, and as a child I didn’t have the layers of thinking that develops as we age, so I fell into this state almost effortlessly. I knew I was on the right track, but with almost three decades of cementing a habit that doing is good, thinking is productive, and becoming still doesn’t get me ahead in the world, meditating was not so effortless.
As I practice becoming still it is more apparent to me that this is a much more natural state for human beings. Only through becoming still can the mind, and body work on a cellular and energetic level to re-calibrate. Since I have began my practice, my thinking has become clearer, my body has become healthier, and my life has become more abundant. I feel like I am swimming with he current of my life instead of exhausting myself to swim against the flow. In short, I am much more “productive” now than at any other time in my life.
How to do nothing? It’s not so easy. Think of your brain as a muscle like any other in your body. When you are sitting watching TV, you wouldn’t needlessly flex your left arm over and over without purpose. You would flex a muscle only when you needed it. So the goal of meditation is to give our mind muscle the time off as well. Meditation was described to me once as the space between two thoughts. Thats it. Here are a few ways I do nothing with a purpose.
1. Moving Meditation. A Yoga class can definitely work to cultivate calming the mind while focusing only on your breath and your movement. I also love riding a motorcycle on a calm day observing the sights and keeping my mind in the present. It could be a walk, a jog, playing with your dog in the park, anything that causes you to focus on the present moment is a form of moving meditation. Ever been driving a car and suddenly realized you don’t remember passing the last three exits? I find when beginning a meditation practice, practicing a moving meditation is a great first step.
2. Single Pointed Focus Meditation. This involves becoming still to the point of one thought, or one focus. Sitting in a comfortable seated position, I will sit and focus on a candle flicker and simply become an observer of my thoughts as they arise. As a thought pops up, I acknowledge it without letting it become “sticky” and I let it pass. A sticky thought is a thought that grabs hold of your mind, and keeps you out of the present. An example of this would be thinking about what to make for dinner. You could let that thought pass, knowing there is time later to make that decision, or you could let it take hold and start mentally rifling through your pantry.As I stretch the space between thoughts, I am renewing myself, my spirit and my mind.
3. My Grade One experience aka Meditation without focus, a state of nothingness, or bliss. Although I have yet to have a meditation experience now that was as long or as quiet as I did in my childhood gym class, I do know know that was exactly what I had experienced. A brief moment in time where I felt I was the world and the world was within me. This is a very powerful, energetically connecting meditation that Monks strive for in caves, and your yoga teacher abstractly explains in class.
Most people spend their whole lives never knowing a moment’s peace. As in all meditation, the common thread in to be completely present. So if sitting in a Himalayan cave is not your thing, Simply taking a minute, and inhaling and exhaling while you watch a beautiful sunset is powerfully healing. Deepak Chopra explained it well when he described the mind like water. When the mind is a still pond the smallest drop of water can create a noticeable rippling effect in your life’s purpose. But, if your mind is a constant turbulent stormy ocean of thoughts, you can throw the Empire Stare Building into it and it wouldn’t make a difference.
Do you remember the exact moment you chose to be …soft? Maybe your resolve to speak up like a picket-line force of nature dwindled over the years, or maybe it was extinguished in a second watching someone you admired shrug their shoulders and sigh “Oh well, we are just the little guys, we can’t make a difference”.
Can you remember the day when your spark died out?
Were you told that “Nobody likes a complainer”, or “your tone is very unbecoming” and inevitably you squeezed your body, your thoughts, and your being into an uncomfortable new uniform that somehow you resigned to accept, even with how hard it is to breathe? I bet your gut screamed at your thoughts “This costume does not fit, this is not who you are, take it off!” Yet you forced the zipper up, and wore it hoping someday it would feel a little less stifling. I bet even today you still yank at the collar to stop it from completely choking you out.
Science class taught me at a very young age that energy never gets used up. What exactly are you doing with all those pent up feelings that well up inside you? When you watch the news, or see your country corrupt your politics, when big corporations kill our fragile ecosystems, and when the ones who we trust to be protecting us, only profit from us instead; where do you hide your true self in those moments?
How do you shove, and elbow that energy back down inside your itchy, hot, and restrictive society-accepted attire? Somehow, you do, and maybe you have done it for more years than you can remember now.
You are quiet, allowing others to gobble up everything you held near and dear to you, while you shrug in hopelessness. You have learned to swallow your opinions now, stretching the fabric tighter and tighter around you.
Seriously, who dressed you? Because you look ridiculous.
Your children will only learn from you when they see injustice, that they need to be the voice of change, or to blend into the walls. Your helpless coworkers, neighbors, friends and enemies need you too. They need you to tell them their society-imposed, opinion-muffling costumes are outrageously outdated now, just like I am telling you.
Growing up, I had the mother who loudly demanded the advertised fifty-cent discount on a loaf of bread at the checkout line, while my sisters and I hid from all of those eyes, glaring with impatience. My mother taught me that standing up for what’s right (no matter how trivial I thought it was) might be uncomfortable to others, but no one ever dared try to choose her wardrobe.
I love her so much.
But, back to you. Did my post offend you just now? Did it make you…. Feel something? Good.
Maybe you can take off that foolish ensemble, put on a pair of sweat pants and help me kick some ass, because I need you too.
At some point our thinking has shifted. When defining “health” I think of the body living in a state of optimal efficiency, with the strength to repulse illness, and living energetically in harmony. It’s becoming a scary universal belief that simply living with the absence of disease is the picture of health. When did we settle? When did we give up that amazing feeling of “being alive” and accept just living, or worse surviving? We have lowered the health bar to meeting the requirement of living disease free, which leaves a pretty big void. Our health care industry (and remember it’s a profit generating big business) really thrives on disease, take a moment and think about how many commercials focus and curing disease (at the risks of sometimes even larger ailments) and how many they put out to prevent these same diseases. Even if our family is predisposed to cancer, this does not mean we have to resign ourselves to the same eventual fate. It has been proven that a diet full of whole foods, natural foods without chemicals and as close to their natural state as possible, while reducing meat, because the higher we eat within the food chain, the higher the amount of toxins that accompany it (and when choosing meat, really go for quality, the absolute best you can afford). The phytonutrients in plants stimulate and regulate our health, and we really need to get our Omega 3s. Type 2 diabetes is reversible with food alone, so why are we not guided to see the light? Unfortunately medical personnel just do not get the training required to adequately “prescribe” a healthier way of eating. There are many, many pharmaceutical salesmen out there knocking door to doctors’ door, but there is just not enough interest, or money to market nutrition against the deep pockets of the drug companies. Almost half our nation is taking at least one prescription, and one-third of us are taking two or more daily, and not enough of us put our faith in food and our bodies’ amazing ability to heal itself. There is more to being well than simply the absence of illness. We all have heard that prolonged stress can manifest physically in our bodies, but so can anger, hatred, depression, hopelessness, anxiety, jealousy, and all negative emotions that when held instead of releasing will build a hospitable environment for inflammation and disease. At our fundamental core, we need love, we need to be connected and we need to be happy to thrive. I hear in the Philippines, people with nothing are always smiling, and in fact, there are malls that play loud happy music once or twice a day, and everyone in the mall stops what they are doing and begin to dance, and sing and release the pent-up energy …they let it all go. A very powerful energetic cleanser is Pranayama, also known as breathing techniques. Even the simple act of finding a quiet space and focusing on your breathing while letting your mind calm is extremely powerful for eliminating stress, and any unrest in the body as well as creating alignment in the energy centers. It is time to question what growing old looks like because old is not synonymous with sickness, and it is time to really scrutinize this belief that our fate is completely hereditary, with no input from our choices and decisions. Health is happiness; health is living is a harmonious state. This life is ours to live, and why not make it our best life? It is never too late to be healthy.
This weekend I was lucky enough to carve out some time to watch a few documentaries. In my twenties it surely wasn’t “cool” to spend a Saturday evening watching informational videos, but I am content to be in a place where “cool” no longer matters. In other words, I am officially my parents. In an effort to elevate peace and happiness for 2015, I thought I would share insights from some very influential philosophers and maybe even inspire you to embrace them into your own life. Socrates is perhaps the most well-known of all the great thinkers. He was a guy that walked the streets asking people the great questions that made them examine their lives. To do this now may raise a few eyebrows, but should it? When exactly did we stop questioning life? Or accepting common sense at face value? Socrates was on a mission to keep the general public from becoming “sheep”. A man many of us would argue we could use today. To learn from Socrates, question everything, including common sense. If we look back into the not so distant history, smoking was not only cool but beneficial to our health, and women couldn’t vote. Epicurus was not as well-known, and his books may not have been as widely read, but his philosophies on happiness are still valuable today. He believed there were 3 things needed to achieve this.
First were friends. He bought a home on a hill larger than anything he would ever need, and asked his closest friends to join him. They rose in the morning together and discussed the politics of the day. They drank wine in the evening and revelled in each other’s company. Friends are the key to life! We are the company we keep.
Freedom. Eventually Epicurus wanted to be out from under the town’s thumb. So, him and his friends moved away and started what would be known today as a commune and lived out their lives completely self-sufficient. Surely this is a hot topic today with the economy, and not only relying on the banks to hopefully help to shelter our families, but educational loans that in debt us, credit card interest which enslaves us, and mortgages which are incredibly profitable to the lenders. It’s nearly impossible to live without credit, or an identity within the governments eyes. A sometimes very stressful life.
Examine your Life. I find there are too many of us trotting through life thinking only about getting to the next pay check or even to retirement. The Buddha had said “It is better to travel well than to arrive” and finding pleasure in the journey should be the goal, not just the goal to be happy “someday”. There is an opportunity for bliss in every moment, joy in every step. Become wise to our patterns and habits can help to steer us onto our paths, instead of potentially following someone else’s.
Look at advertising and you will see the subliminal messages in the slogans and imagery swaying you to believe that purchasing a product will give you these things. Epicurus put up a wall outside the market proclaiming that true happiness cannot be purchased here. After my first Black Friday in the US, it is clear that the advertising industry has used the Epicurean principles so successfully people will go to crazy lengths to find it.
Seneca wrote extensively on overcoming anger to become happier. He believed anger was the most frenzied and hideous of emotions. He studied people from different social classes and came to a surprising conclusion. The wealthier the individual the angrier they seemed to be! He realized that the things that make us the angriest are the things that take us by surprise. The more money a person had, the more they believed they were immune to “surprises”, and became increasingly irate when the situations arose. Even today, you can see the patrons in a fine dining restaurant picking at any imperfections with increasing annoyance. Seneca had some advice on dealing with anger.
Become more Pessimistic. Every day when you get into your car, there is a good chance you may get cut off, or get into a traffic jam. Yet we get are so surprised when they happen. When you start expecting drivers to be bad, the bus to be occasionally late, and your boss to give you unrealistic demands, you might just notice that living in the world realistically keeps the anger at a controllable decibel.
Lower your expectations. Next time you are at the airport notice the differences between the First Class Line up versus the Coach customers. Doing a fair amount of travel myself, (all coach by the way), there is a noticeable difference in expected perfection by the Premium ticket holders, and inevitable disappointment throughout the flight.
Conforming your expectations to the world rather than expecting the world to conform to your expectations is the key to controlling and overcoming anger. Crucial in finding our way to Happiness. Montaigne was fascinated by one’s Self Esteem. He saw our inadequacies in three areas which seemed to be the most peculiar.
The Body. Unlike animals, we spend so much time obsessing over how we should look, how much we should weigh, our hair color, clothes and the list goes on. He suggests we learn to accept our bodies with grace and a little humour. Montaigne although wealthy, wrote books about his mundane life filled with bowel movements and masturbation. He spared no minute detail to point out that we are really all the same. All classes could relate to him on a personal level, and he was very popular in his day.
Becoming Judgemental. This was thinly guised way of propping oneself up to Montaigne. He saw the gossips and the ones so eager to point out another’s perceived flaw as a crutch in making one’s own ego larger. He felt there was a certain arrogance that came with people who thought they were the last word on what’s right in society.
Intellectual Inadequacy. Montaigne felt one could be wise with humility. Understanding the difference between wisdom versus knowledge is key here. Accepting even the greatest scholars have limitations, and knowing the far bigger dangers of becoming intellectually arrogant. Nietzsche talked at length about hardship. He wished illness to his friends and loss to his family. He hoped for these low times in the lives of the ones he cared for most, as this is the only way to get to true happiness. Difficulty is normal, and should be expected. Only through suffering can we reap the greatest joys. He likens our lives to becoming gardeners, who start with dark situations and through are perseverance can we cultivate the most beautiful of gardens. Every hardship is an opportunity to grow, to become aware our ourselves on a very deep level and nurture our true self, rather than the demanding ego in our heads.
On a personal note I have seen this first hand. Only through losing my first husband and childhood best friend, have I to have been able to see how deep sorrow can grow into an unbridled gratefulness and willingness to enjoy every last moment in life, because it is short, and if we don’t open our eyes to it, we just might miss it!
Bringing us the Schopenhauer, who was one of the very few philosophers to touch on love. He felt that love above all was the most important thing, because it alone propagates the species to reproduce. On this more scientific note, he also believed our attractions to our mates are based on cancelling out our own features to create balance in our offspring. If you are short, you may be attracted to someone tall. If you are completely logical all the time, you may fancy a mate who brings the inner child out of you. If this is true, than the next time you are rejected, think of it more as an imbalance of personalities/traits, rather than taking it too personally. Well, maybe still keep the evening of ice cream and romance movies, but in the sugar induced hangover the next morning, brush it off as nothing more that a biologically predetermined mis-match.
Have a couple of hours to spend? Watch the full documentary http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/watch-online