Everyone loves practicing ásana (physical positions); they are amazing; they make your body strong, supple and definitely healthier. But why does almost every style of yôga practice ásana in a different way?
I can not tell you much about the others methods, as I don’t practice them, but I can explain ours and why is so effective.
India is, historically, one of the most invaded countries in the world. Every great emperor in the world passed through there, including the Aryans, later Alexander the Great and most recently the British invasion. You can be sure that every single colonizer somehow changed and influenced the Indian culture and, consequently, Yôga. The most recent, and significant, change that happened in Yôga was the introduction of repetition of the ásanas.
Ásana was traditionally practiced with permanence, but when the British army landed in India the yogins of that time seemed to like the Western idea of working out the body with repetition and this new habit got stronger when Yôga was exported to United States.
So, what do we lose by practicing ásana with repetition? First of all, ásana should not be categorized as “gymnastic”. Ásana has not only the aim to make your body healthier, but, mainly, to achieve body-consciousness and self-knowledge. Body and mind being closely interrelated, the practice of ásana aims at mastery over the body with a view to securing corresponding mastery over the mind. Control of nervous and vital energies produces control of mental functions. The mind-body complex is brought under perfect control, the indwelling Self shines out and the higher self is realized.
I think it is only possible to achieve such delightful results with permanence of ásanas, never with repetitions.
When you stay in the position for a good time it acts deeply on the muscle fuses, the receptors inside the muscle cell that are connected with muscle tone, and with the protection against the risk of strain. The position, combined with focused attention and coordinated breathing, affects the muscle fuses, stimulating them to lower their defensive control over the muscle. The fibres of the muscles decrease their level of contraction and effectively stretch.
” Ásana is any firm and confortable position”
Yôga-Sutra of Patañjali
Written by Paulo Pacifici
One of the most important gifts you can give to yourself this New Year is to have a healthier lifestyle. To achieve this ideal, you need to embrace a sustainable program that entails gradual steps. This is far easier to sustain and less strenuous compared to a sudden change of lifestyle.
You stand to have an enjoyable experience if you engage in specific daily tasks. Your body will adjust gradually depending on its needs. Eventually, you will fall in love with healthy living because you will realize it is a lovely gift you are consciously offering to yourself every day.
You probably have heard that adapting healthy habits into your daily life is difficult. Nothing can be further from the truth. All you need is to adhere to a number of rituals, and your body will begin to love healthy living.
Drink Warm Lemon Water First Thing In The Morning: This is important for expelling toxins from your body, reinvigorating metabolism, fortifying your immunity, giving your organs the water they need for optimal functioning and obtaining much-needed energy to begin your day. You stand to benefit more from this drink if you add black pepper, freshly-ground turmeric or ginger, and a little bit of your favorite healthy oil. Turmeric will also be of great benefit to your body because of the presence of black pepper. The latter improves the bio-availability of the former.
Start Your Day With A Smoothie: There is no better nutrient-packed drink than a smoothie. You can increase the amounts of minerals and vitamins in a smoothie by loading it with superfoods.
Take Herbal Teas Instead Of Coffee: It is possible to gravitate towards coffee, but your body stands to gain more from drinking rooibos and other herbal teas. You will surely be a healthier person when your kidney is cleaned, your body hydrated, and when you have lower levels of cholesterol. Similarly, herbal teas help you to lose weight and assuage your headaches, among other gains.
Exercise: When your body moves, more endorphins are released into the blood, making you a happier person. Both your mood and energy levels improve when you exercise. Where possible, walk to your place of work instead of driving. Depending on your personality, exercise in the morning or after work. It will help clear your mind.
Opt For Healthy Snacks Instead Of Processed Nibbles: Smoothies, fruits, a couple of nuts or your home-based energy bar are healthier choices compared to cookies and sausages.
Enrich Your Food With Turmeric: This spice is packed with medicinal properties and plenty of other benefits. Nothing adds more value to your pasta and rice meals, sauces and soups like turmeric.
You see how easy is ease to adapt these practices into your daily lifestyle? A time will come when you will not imagine your life without them. Along the way, you will pick up other similarly-beneficial habits. There is no substitute for your body. Nurture it.
Your Grace Guru
Apples are renowned for their nutritive benefits. Most weight loss diets include this fruit. The good news is that there is an even better way of enjoying this delicacy. Apple Cider Vinegar (or ACV) is beginning to excite health and nutrition experts – for good reasons.
It is important to understand that ACV did not become relevant in the modern era. Actually, the man who holds the enviable title of ‘Father of Medicine’ Hippocrates, is credited with having used ACV to cure a host of illnesses. He especially loved using this substance to dress wounds.
What Is Apple Cider Vinegar?
To create this wonder drink, one has to crush apples, thereby exposing the fruits to yeast and fermentation. The sugar in the fruits is turned into alcohol. The ensuing substance is mixed with bacteria to transform it into ascetic acid through fermentation. In essence, ACV’s main component is ascetic acid.
When making ACV, one may opt to filter the mixture to have a smooth liquid. This type of vinegar is used for cleaning as well as culinary purposes. However, at the surface of the ACV that has not been filtered is a thick substance called ‘Mother’. This version of ACV contains beneficial proteins and bacteria that look like cobwebs.
What Are The Benefits Of Apple Cider Vinegar?
From the onset, it is crucial to realise that there are many benefits associated with ACV. However, not many of these have been verified scientifically. They are just assumptions. Over the years, ACV was used as a home-made remedy for a range of complications. Some families still use it out of custom handed down generations.
Because it kills bacteria and other pathogens, ACV is widely used in home cleaning. Warts, lice, fungus and nail infections were customarily treated using this type of vinegar. It is for the same reason that this substance is used to preserve food.
Like the apples it is made from, ACV can be of great help to people who want to lose weight. It fills the tummy so that one feels full even when they have not eaten much. This in turn reduces the urge to eat – a powerful reason for weight gain. Moreover, CV contains very few calories and this helps in curtailing weight gain.
ACV has also been found to be effective in managing diabetes. It helps to lower blood sugar levels. The ascetic acid in this substance is anti-glycemic and this is important in dealing with sensitivity of the insulin.
Apple Cider Vinegar is also important as a detoxifier. The same way it deals with bacteria and other harmful organisms in the house, it helps the body fight infections. The liver will benefit from an intake of ACV just as the lymph nodes. When these body parts function optimally, illnesses are kept at bay.
The benefits of ACV cannot be exhausted in one article. One can only understand them through experimentation.
Here Are A Few Tips On How To Get The Most Out Of Apple Cider Vinegar:
- Pour 1 to 2 teaspoons of ACV into a glass of water and you have a rejuvenating drink before you.
- Pour two drops of ACV into your smoothie to enrich the latter.
- Take the same drink in the morning to clear your digestive system and prevent you from overeating.
- A few drops of ACV used to dilute water will create a drink that can help overcome indigestion and other temporary stomach problems.
- Having a problem with heartburn? Mix half a teaspoon of ACV in water and take the drink for immediate relief.
- Use ACV to dress your salads the same way you would use balsamic vinegar.
- If you want to have whiter teeth, gargle with ACV to remove stains in your gums and mouth.
- Mixed with water and essential oils, ACV is one of the most effective all-purpose cleaners for your home.
- You can also use ACV as a facial toner when you mix it with water and apply the mixture to your face using cotton wool.
- Mix half a teaspoon of ACV in a glass of water and use the mixture to rinse your hair, to make the latter healthy and vermin-free.
Your Grace Guru
Every day of your life brings you into contact with people and events that have powerful impacts on your life. You imbibe both negative and positive energy from this interaction. At the same time, you vibrate good and bad energy and the environment often reacts in equal measure. It is within this context that spiritual bath cleansing is very important.
You see, the negative energy you absorb and exude tends to accumulate over time to the extent that your soul and mind become toxic. Thankfully, your body has its own mechanism of fighting and expelling negative energy. However, unpleasant energy can build up to the extent of being uncontrollable. It is at that stage when your life becomes a bother.
You obviously have gone through times when you felt angry with yourself and others. These are moments when you are not at peace with yourself and your environment. You live on the edge. Anyone who comes your way feels the negative vibrations and energy emanating from you. You even realise that some people are avoiding you because you ooze negativity.
These moments demand thorough cleaning of your body, soul and mind, as this will renew your energy field. A spiritual bath is a ritual bath that opens your heart to freshness and inspiration while expelling negativity. It is an opportunity to give yourself something like a birthday because you will begin to feel like a new-born child.
Before you imagine you are engaging in a king of newfound ritual, it is important to understand that spiritual bath cleansing has been practised for many years before. History records this practice as part of cultural conduct in Africa and Europe. This was a popular practice used in hoodoo and magic circles. It had and still maintains traces of African, European and Native American witchcraft and religious practices.
Ritual baths often involved using running water or even sea water, especially the type that was regarded as pure. Other practices involved adding concoctions of roots, herbs, minerals, tree barks or even salt. Well, today we may not use spiritual bath cleansing for witchcraft and magical purposes, but the physical and spiritual benefits are worth enjoying.
Spiritual bath cleansing was also employed in treating sickness. People who were experiencing physical discomfort were put into baths to cleanse away the sickness in their bodies. Contrary to what you may expect, many of these people were cured of their illnesses or at least got some relief from their illnesses.
Approaching Ritual Baths
There are a number of baths that can give your body, mind and souls the needed relief from negative energy. Remember whatever method you choose to employ the intention is to create an atmosphere conducive to understanding what your inner self is telling you. You must be ready and willing to inculcate the change you need to make positive energy flow through you once again.
From the onset, you need to understand that you are cleaning your spiritual self and protecting yourself from unwelcome influences. This implies you are not just engaging in the normal bath you take in the morning, evening, after a journey or when you just feel exhausted. You need to bring your entire self into this exercise.
Unlike normal baths, you cannot use the normal soap, bath oil or shampoo that you normally use. Never forget that you are engaging in a spiritual exercise and you need to bring all your senses into the bath. If you really want to get the most out of your ritual bath, you must distance yourself from mundane thought and practices – the type that you engage in during a normal bath.
Types of Spiritual Baths
1. Using salt water: This is one of the most popular methods of cleansing your body. It is important that you set aside an hour or so for the exercise to have the desired effect. Several handfuls of unrefined or unprocessed sea salt, or the highly-regarded Himalayan crystal salt, added to warm will do the job. You may want to use some essential healing oils like lavender to boost your relaxation.
As you relax in the water, engage in meditation or some form of communication with your inner soul or the Supreme Being. Ask to be relieved of the negative energy that has piled up in your body, mind and soul. Do not hesitate to ask for higher spiritual vibrations. It is recommended that you just put on you robe, that you and do not dry the body with a towel. Moreover, try to remain in that state for 24 hours.
Give yourself this kind of treatment once every week and you will realise how powerful spiritual bath cleansing is.
2. Using baking soda ash: Perhaps the only time you use this product is when you are baking. Now you have another important use of baking soda – spiritual bath cleansing. The same approach as the one used with the salt bath is necessary.
3. A natural bath in the ocean: You need to try this especially if you live near an ocean. What many people don’t know is that the sea and the salt therein are therapeutic. Taking bath in such an environment will cleanse your body from physical and spiritual impurities.
This exercise has other important benefits. To begin, a salt bath helps the skin to absorb the heavy metals and toxins in your skin and eliminate them. Moreover, there are numerous trace minerals that your body needs and this kind of bath will infuse your body with them. If you have been having skin problems such as acne, a ritual bath will kills the bacteria and dirt that has accumulated over time. Similarly, your muscle pains and aches will begin to feel better.
Now that you know the importance of spiritual bath cleansing, make sure to give your body the necessary rejuvenation it deserves. There is nothing more important you can do to a body that has served you this long than to bring relief to it through a spiritual bath.
Your Grace Guru
Visualisation meditation is a form of meditation that involves communicating with either spiritual guides, your higher self / subconscious mind or Supreme Being. The other form of meditation is object-focused but this one is a form of visual meditation that is subjective. Practitioners preach that meditation visualisation is a powerful tool for transforming one’s inner being and conduct.
Visualisation meditation is subjective but at the same time it involves a high level of action from the person who wants to benefit from it. The reason some people have never realised the benefits of visualisation meditation is because they often confuse it with daydreaming. To the observer, a practitioner of this technique may appear to be daydreaming but in actual sense the latter is involved in an engaging and powerful self-transformation exercise.
The Power of Visualisation Meditation
As noted earlier, visualisation meditation is regarded highly because of its powerful ability to transform lives. The following are some of the ways in which practitioners have benefited from using this technique:
- Relief from pain. People who have experienced chronic pain have reported to feel significantly better after this particular practice.
- Acceleration of healing: Individuals who are recuperating after undergoing treatment attest to the speeding up of the healing process after engaging in visualisation meditation.
- Dealing effectively with anxiety and stress: After practicing visualisation meditation repeatedly, practitioners report significantly decreased levels of tension and the increased ability to focus the mind on other productive activities.
- Generally, people are using this technique as a substitute to or to complement contemporary medicine.
- Did you also know that if people practiced this technique, they would reduce their visits to the doctor by 90% because the majority of illnesses we suffer from can in fact be cured through visualisation meditation?
- Last but not least, if you have a problem concentrating on a task, lesson or routine this technique can drastically help you to reverse the trend.
Getting Down to Business:
- Begin by looking for a quiet place and time, preferably a quiet room or at night before you sleep. However, don’t limit yourself – ensure you have enough time and will not be interrupted during the session.
- Like all meditation, visualisation meditation begins with the practitioner adopting a comfortable meditation posture.
- The next course of action is to shut your eyes. This helps you to concentrate your mind on the task at hand.
- Now breathe deeply from you diaphragm and relax your muscles gradually.
- Visualise yourself in a place where you are surrounded by a glowing white light.
- Imagine that that light is filled with peace and happiness.
- Concentrate on imbibing the light every time you breathe.
- Allow that feeling to infiltrate into your body, reaching each of your cells, organs, atoms and every other part of your being.
- Now visualise yourself getting rid of negative energy. Think of all negativity as a black smoke. Release the thick stuff from your body as you breathe out.
- After getting rid of negativity, focus on the positive. Think about that thing or state you desire and how you will feel when you eventually achieve it. With that image in mind, inhale deeply, as if allowing the dream to become a reality.
- Remember to create as clear an image as possible, complete with all the senses.
- Once the process is over, go through the normal procedures of concluding a meditation session.
- Don’t forget that visualisation meditation should be repeated regularly until it becomes a normal practice. The desired image must be called into the mind as often as possible in order to make it some kind of an obsession you must achieve.
Which kind of scenario is conducive for Visualisation Meditation to endure expected results?
- To begin with, your visualisation should involve smaller moments and not vague gigantic amounts. In other words, you cannot dream the world in one setting. You know what you want. Break it down into smaller goals and objectives. Remember the dream will be realized piece by piece, not all in one go.
- You also need to have a clear plan. Like your dream, your plan must be broken down into achievable parts. You might want to create daily, weekly or monthly tasks that contribute to the overall goal. You also need to be realistic when making your plans.
- Now put your plan into action. Be faithful to the plan you have made. You are your own supervisor. Have a To-Do list for each day.
- It will not be easy. You must have self-belief. There may be many times you will feel like giving up. You need to have self-confidence. Nothing will be achieved without your efforts. You will find obstacles throughout your journey. Let the expected outcome work as an incentive for you.
- It is the sum of small efforts that will culminate in the dream. Always see the bigger picture in the smaller effort.
Is there a Recommended Frequency?
Visualisation meditation is not about the time you spend doing it but the level of concentration and result. At the onset, it is advisable to spend between a quarter of an hour and half an hour in the exercise. This is especially when you are new to the technique.
As you become more experienced, you may want to concentrate for longer periods of time. In other words, the duration of time spent by different people depends on experience.
How many times should you do it in a day, week, month etc.? Again this is a decision to be made by the individual. Some do it twice a day while others visualise only once every week. It is only you who knows how desperately you need to make your dream come true. However, you should be careful not to overdo the exercise to the extent of it become mundane and ineffective.
Despite this, if you make it a routine and it works for you, then go ahead and practice it. For example, there are people who engage in it before going to bed or after waking up. Your bed will often provide enough comfort to visualise and meditate. This is especially effective for people who find it difficult to sleep.
Why people fail to gain from Visualisation Meditation
Visualisation meditation has been criticised by people who do not understand the rationale behind it. In recent decades, the debate on the law of attraction has attracted widespread acceptance and rejection / skepticism in equal measure. This is especially true when it comes to attracting the things, people and circumstances that one wants in his or her life.
The reason I am talking about the law of attraction is because it teaches a form of visualisation meditation that many use for material gain at the expense of their spiritual, emotional and mental development. Visual meditation acknowledges (like the law of attraction) that everything begins as an idea before it matures into reality. Everything your senses can perceive was once an idea in the mind of another person.
However, many beginners of visualisation meditation stumble when the ideas they hold in their mind do not come to achievement. What they forget is that even the best idea must be backed up by a parallel action of the technique in order to produce the desired results. As one anonymous individual said, building castles in the sky is commendable but the dreamer must go ahead and lay the foundation if the dream are to become a reality.
In essence, you must go beyond visualising what you want and create an action plan for achieving your desires. There must be some form of physical effort towards achieving the dream. Unless you act towards your goal you will be like the person who dreams he or she had won the lottery and wakes up to search for the money in the bed, only to realise it was merely a dream!
Nature has rules and laws that do not change to suit our needs. It is us who need to change to be in tandem with nature. In the case of visualisation meditation, nature demands that we align our attitudes and actions with the desired outcome. A seed that is planted but not watered will die. An idea that is visualised during meditation but is not planned for eventually becomes a distant dream or a fantasy.
Some people also fail to realise the fruits of visualisation meditation because they fail to back up the dream and action with belief. You must believe that you will achieve your dream. There are many who have an idea, create a plan for achieving the dream but fall along the way because they do not have self-belief. You need confidence and self-assurance that you are equal to the task and that the universe will help you to achieve your desires.
Another barrier to visualisation meditation is over-indulging in the exercise without the backing of common sense. Creating a mental image of what you desire is the first and very important step towards your target. However, creating mental images for the sake of it or simply because you want to escape your current position ASAP is detrimental to your efforts.
Think about it this way. If you visualise yourself getting out of poverty or some form of misfortune tomorrow yet you don’t have the means to back you up, you will be disappointed. It is important to remember that visualisation meditation is not magic. There can be no miracles if you don’t expend any efforts towards making your idea a reality. Wishful thinking is not synonymous with visualisation meditation!
I hope you do not think that I want you not to be ambitious. No. Ambition is crucial for personal success. However, your dreams must be in tandem with the universe and its workings. There are laws of cause and effect; laws of planting and harvesting, and laws for rewarding effort and not mere fantasising. To emphasise: that is how nature works and it cannot change to suit your whims.
Many of the people you will hear disparaging visualisation meditation are those who were looking for quick fixes and instant riches, contrary to rationality and common sense. They came with high hopes. They wanted a miracle. They were not willing or prepared for the mandatory effort and self-belief. When the natural and rational outcome of their meager efforts came to fruition (here I mean when they failed) disappointment and disillusionment set it and they started blaming the technique and not themselves.
The process we have discussed here is just an example. Come up with one that fits your need. Make sure the atmosphere and experience you visualise is one that brings you into the right state of mind to expel negative energy and imbibe positive energy. Make sure you do this as often as you feel you are functioning optimally.
Finally, an idea / dream, coupled with the right plan and a determination to succeed are the main ingredients for effective visualisation meditation.
Your Grace Guru
Moods are important! Emotions are part and parcel of every human being. The tradition with human feelings – these include both good and bad vibes! If anyone tells you that they only experience good moods, please realise you are dealing with a liar or a mentally disturbed person!
As fate would have it, it always seems harder to get into a good mood but always very easy to lose it. To put it differently, you are likely to change into a bad mood faster than it will take you to adopt a positive emotion. It feels like an exercise in futility, right? … Not exactly!
Why A Bad Mood Is To Be Avoided
It is important to consider the negative effects of a bad mood, hoping that this will jolt you into realising why you need strategies in order to rid yourself of a bad temperament. A foul disposition sets in motion a series of negative reactions to people, events and other external stimuli.
When you are in a foul temperament, you are likely to dent your reputation through negative talk and actions. You may say something you will regret. It is also possible to throw away opportunities and people that could have helped you. In other words, a bad mood beclouds the mind and precipitates negative conduct.
How To Change Your Mood For The Better
Here are effective actions to take when your mood goes south, as it will often do. You will realise that changing your mood to the better will demand that you address certain mental, physical, social and even dietary issues:
1. Treat the cause, not the symptoms: Your moods are indicative of a deeper problem within you. Perhaps it is self-acceptance or low self –esteem. Possibly there is an unresolved problem with someone else. It is time you took the bull by its horns. Iron out the issues with the other person, or, where necessary, seek professional assistance.
2. Set goals and priorities: Your foul mood is probably due to exhaustion and feeling that you have too much to do within a very short time. Write down all the tasks that await you and prioritize them. Identify the urgent and the important and decide what to do first.
3. Adopt a positive disposition: Whenever you focus on the bad that is happening or is likely to happen around you, you tend to feel to despondent. Focus, rather, on what makes you happy. Think about your past success whenever the present seems to be going against your present desires.
4. Grab a wholesome snack or meal: Your moods plunge when you are low on energy. The best solution is to eat healthy food like fruits, nuts, vegetables, avocado and dark chocolate, to name a few. The nutrients these foods carry will elevate your mood almost immediately.
5. Engage in an enjoyable activity: What is that pastime that brings out the best in you? Just do it. Get out there are and ride a bike. Volunteer for community service. Engage deliberately in activities that have previously lifted your moods and made life enjoyable.
6. Invest in some humour: Your mood has plummeted? Watch that favourite comedian or comedy show and bring back some excitement into your life. Call the funny friend who makes you laugh simply by being around you. Go out and meet them as this will spike your mood. How about remembering events and people that made you laugh in the past?
7. Bring a smile to your face: This is where we say you should fake it until you make it. Go before a mirror and smile at the person who is looking back at you. Act happy and you will be surprised at how quickly your thoughts pick up the happy mood.
8. Engage in a distraction: Instead of focussing on that issue that has negatively affected your disposition, look for something different but more enjoyable to do. It may not be something you have done before, but it has to help your forget your reasons for being sad.
9. Work out: It is rare to find a person who is exercising being unhappy at the same time. Exercise has a way of stimulating the secretion of endorphins thus lifting up your mood. Take a brisk walk, hit the gym or perform push-ups in your living room to drive bad moods away.
10. Practice spirituality: There is a soul inside you that yearns for connection with the Supreme Being. Nurture your soul by engaging in prayer, meditation or any other activity that nourishes the inner being. The ensuing peace of mind cannot c0-exist with bad moods.
11. Listen to your favourite music: Music, especially that cool and sentimental type and spiritual vibes, has a way of lifting up your spirit and giving you a reason to be positive and to smile again, despite the negatives around you.
12. Dance: Closely related to music is the idea of moving your body in unison with the beat and rhythm music you are listening to. Dancing, like exercise, has a positive impact on your endorphins, banishing away a foul mood and bringing back the positive vibe you need.
13. Reach out to friends and family: Some bad moods stem from feelings of disconnection from the rest of the society. That is why you need to call your friend and eat out or watch a movie together. A much cheaper option is to set out on a walk or picnic.
14. Play: Which is your favourite game? Football, basketball, baseball, volleyball, badminton? Get some friends or visit the sports club and play to your satisfaction. Bad mood will eschew you.
15. Disengage social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and their cousins have a way of making you feel less successful, unimportant and less attractive, especially when you look at the posts and profiles of apparently more successful peers. Give yourself a break and focus on improving your self-esteem.
Most importantly, remember you can only get out of a bad mood by taking practical steps. Whatever works for you, bring the vibe and groove back, maximize on it, and bad moods will not dictate how you live your life!
Your Grace Guru
Happiness is something that all of us crave and search for all the time. It comes and goes, sometimes very quick and sometimes it stays a bit longer! Ask any person you meet what they want from life and chances are they will mention happiness are very high. We spend a lot of money trying to attain all that bliss, we go to great lengths – to the end of the world – just to feel that serenity and gladness that we crave so much.
So why is it that we don’t remain happy for long?
Here are 10 simple things you need to do to become happier or to inculcate an attitude of happiness:
1. Live a simple life: Most of us forget that life is meant to be enjoyed and the best way to do it is to live as simply as possible. Often, it is not the money and material things that bring happiness into life. Rather, it is the simple things that matter. Appreciate the very fact that you are alive and healthy; that you can talk to people and listen to the beautiful sound of nature. Much of these can be enjoyed away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Think about it this way: how would you live if you were taken to a world without modern technology?
2. Imbibe the fresh air from outdoors: There are few things that are as refreshing and invigorating as the outdoor. You level of happiness is likely to spike when your brain imbibes fresh air. After hours of interacting with many people and machines, some of them irritating, you need an injection of freshness and happiness from nature. Create time over the weekend or after work to visit that park or lake where nature teems. The blood in your brain needs that freshness to bring back happiness.
3. Exercise gratitude: It has been proved that people who accept themselves as they are often experience high levels of happiness compared to those who are always complaining. Learn to give thanks for the people around you like family and friends. Be happy when things go right and learn to appreciate when you don’t get your way. Instead of basing your daily disposition on the weather, train your body to appreciate all kinds of weather. Grateful people often find more reasons to become happier.
4. Engage in regular workouts: Regular exercise relieves the body from stress. It stretches out your muscles and brings relaxation. Your brain becomes invigorated because fresh air is mixed in the blood. Your mood is boosted and you begin to feel happier. Rarely will you go into the gym with a foul mood and low spirit and return with the same disposition. People who exercise regularly are among the happiest on earth.
The only bad workout, is the one that never happened!
5. Focus on the good, not the bad: To become happier, you need to identify issues that make you happy and those that sadden you. Your focus should be on maximizing on the positive issues and minimizing or eradicating the negative. In life, there will always be some things and people that exasperate you. Remember you cannot control what comes your way but you can decide how to react to all stimuli. Choose to be happy. Choose to see what is good inside you instead of focussing on the bad that some people associate with you.
6. Spend adequate time on sleep: The human body is designed with its own mechanism for happiness, and part of this is getting enough sleep. There is no way you will be happy when you deprive your body of sleep. Most of the time when you are irritable and likely to pick a fight with other people, it is because you have not slept adequately. It is important that you sleep for between six and eight hours daily since this will naturally rest your body and give you greater happiness.
7. Extend a helping hand: Human life was never designed to be a lonely and selfish affair. We are what we are because someone helped us along the way, we only become happier when we extend the same kind of assistance to other people who need it. Human nature is such that when we lift the spirits of others our joy is amplified. And there are many people in need of your help. Orphans, widows, the homeless, the sick and so on, can benefit from some of the surplus resources you have.
8. Have quality social time: Your friends and relatives play a great role in your life. They know you better than anybody else. Your good and bad moments are all engraved in their minds. Your happiness is connected with theirs. It follows that as their happiness increases, so does yours. Consequently, plan to spend more quality time with those who love you. Attend special occasions such as weddings and birthday parties to show support and enjoy these people’s company, and your happiness will increase.
9. Meditate: One of the most acknowledged strategies of making you happier is to meditate. Meditation helps you to bring your mind, body and spirit into conformity. It eliminates your inner conflicts, giving you peace of mind and contentment. The moment you give your inner nature contentment, you begin to become more positive and pleasurable to live with. Learn to spend time is silent contemplation of your life, listening to your inner voice.
10. Treat yourself well: Your happiness depends on how well you value yourself and how you treat yourself. You cannot make others happy if you are not happy with yourself. The battle must begin within you. Money may not buy happiness but you can use money to increase your happiness. Treat yourself to that special meal in the restaurant you like. Make that special trip to a place where you have always craved to visit. Buy that special smartphone or latest kind of clothing or car if you can afford it. You deserve it as this will make you happier.
When all is said and done, happiness begins with you appreciating yourself. Becoming happier is possible when you extend this love to others, appreciate what life brings your way, and find little ways to make life more bearable for all human beings.
Your Grace Guru
Rumi was a poet of Persian origin who lived in the 13th Century. His birth can be traced to modern Afghanistan in a city called Balkh. He was born Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī on September 30, 1207. He would later migrate to a little town called Konya; in the country we call Turkey today. Don’t be shocked, therefore, if you come across Iranians, Turks and Afghans, who claim Rumi was one of their own.
According to Frank Lewis, a scholar who has written the biography of Rumi, the name Rumi actually means Rome, a reference to the areas under Roman rule that were later conquered by Turks, and where Muslims like Rumi settled. Rumi’s other name, Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Balkhī, cements his connection with his city of birth in Afghanistan.
It is this multiple identity that makes this jurist, poet, theologian and Islamic scholar a popular figure not only in Asia but also across the world. No singular religion or culture can claim to own Rumi exclusively. His works are revered among Muslims, Christians, Hindus and Jews. You will hear recitations of his poetry in mosques, cathedrals, Zen monasteries and synagogues alike.
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He is arguably the greatest composer of mystical poetry to have graced the earth. The world is more than 7o,000 poetry verses richer thanks to the creativity, ingenuity and profound philosophical knowledge of this great man. It is no wonder that his teachings have been translated into the major languages of the world.
While many in the West have come to know Rumi in the last two decades, thinkers and scholars in Asia and the Middle East have always held Rumi in high regard. His poetry covers a range of topics – some mystical – some philosophical. In his works, you will come across passion, desire, love and spirituality. Like many of the philosophers whose knowledge was revered in the past, Rumi’s counsel was timeless and is still relevant today.
It is important to note that Rumi was born in a wealthy and noble family, and though his life had the usual drama all of us ago, it was not until he met wandering holy man than life changed drastically. One wonders why the philosophy and mysticism bug had not bitten the young man before, considering his father was a mystic, jurist and theologian.
Enter Shams, the potent spiritual wanderer who was way below the social class of Rumi, and who belonged to the upper class, and the Rumi’s life took a dramatic turn. Although the two would come together as teacher and student when Rumi was around 37 years of age, Shams had noticed the younger man at 21 years of age and decided to wait until a later date to covert him into spirituality.
The bond between the wandering teacher, otherwise known as the Bird, and Rumi took time to heal. The fact that Shams was a lonely antisocial figure and below the nobility associated with Rumi, was so much of a hindrance that the older man had to leave town following death threats from the upper class.
To solve the class problem, Rumi married the daughter of his teacher thus setting off their long friendship. It is no wonder then that the first epic written by Rumi was titled, “The Collective Poems of Shams of Tabriz.” It is evident that Rumi ascribed his knowledge and philosophy to his master and teacher –Shams. His search for love and the truth under the tutelage of Shams transformed Rumi into a thinker and philosopher.
The death of Shams at the hand of the youngest son of Rumi resulted in profound grief for the latter. This, coupled with their two years of interaction, led to two collections of epics: Massnavi (Mathnawi) and Divan-e Shams-e Tabrizi.
The following quotes illustrate just how deep Rumi’s philosophy of life was and how he conceptualized human existence and the experience of living:
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Rumi celebrated love:
The garden of love is green without limit
and yields many fruits other than sorrow or joy.
Love is beyond either condition:
without autumn, it is always fresh.
On love and the possibility of a disagreement between lovers, he said:
“Every day my heart falls deeper in the pain of your sorrow.
Your cruel heart is weary of me already.
You have left me alone, yet your sorrow remains.
Truly your sorrow is more faithful than you are.”
Rumi also understood what most of us have had to experience when being left by a lover and said:
You left and I cried tears of blood.
My sorrow grows.
It’s not just that You left.
But when You left my eyes went with You.
Now, how will I cry?
But he also understood the need for one to endure the pain of being rejected:
Love is best when mixed with anguish.
In our town,
we won’t call you a Lover
if you escape the pain.
Rumi also had something to say about drunkenness, the inherent dangers and the need to say ‘no’:
“I am so drunk
I have lost the way in
and the way out.
I have lost the earth, the moon, and the sky.
Don’t put another cup of wine in my hand,
pour it in my mouth,
for I have lost the way to my mouth.”
The importance of more silence and less speech was also a great concern of this philosopher:
Clam up your mouth and be silent like an oyster shell,
for that tongue of yours is the enemy of the soul, my friend.
When the lips are silent, the heart has a hundred tongues.
Rumi’s philosophy was also based on the Supreme Being:
I have seen the king with a face of Glory,
He who is the eye and the sun of heaven,
He who is the companion and healer of all beings,
He who is the soul and the universe that births souls.
On the need to seek happiness from the source and not reflectors of love, Rumi had this to say:
Sunlight fell upon the wall;
the wall received a borrowed splendor.
Why set your heart on a piece of earth, O simple one?
Seek out the source which shines forever.
Finally, do you know the value of your soul? Rumi has this challenge for you:
You know the value of every article of merchandise,
but if you don’t know the value of your own soul, it’s all foolishness.
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