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
The joy, enthusiasm, optimism and productivity exhibited by creative people is infectious. If you are the inventive type, losing your spark is the last thing you want to happen. Even those who don’t consider themselves imaginative crave for the day they will exude positivism without struggling.
We all can do with an injection of originality in thinking. Creativity invigorates your mind and gives you the impetus to face challenges and pursue new endeavors. Are you suffering from momentary or prolonged dearth of imagination?
Here are ten tips to help you become creative again…
- Embrace Good Old Nature
Human beings often forget they are part of nature. The outdoors, especially the woods, water bodies and hilly areas can ignite the spark that is lying idle in you. Take a walk and breathe fresh air. Listen to the chirping of birds. Learn from the diligence of bees. Your creativity will come back in a flood.
- Exercise Regularly
Sitting down for long constricts your muscles and blood vessels. Blood does not reach your body cells, tissues and organs as effectively as it should. You feel lethargic because oxygen is not reaching every part of your body. Why not join a fitness club or create an enjoyable exercise routine? You will realize that every time you exercise, you lose bad moods and redundant thoughts and feel fresh to think again.
- Take A Journey To New Territory
Creativity often takes a plunge because we are so much used to the familiar. Your eyes need to see a new world to feed the brain with novel ideas. Take a physical journey to an exciting place you have never visited before. Let your juvenile curiosity be awakened again. Get lost in the wonder of new frontiers as this will bring back your creativity.
- Become Playful And Childlike Again
Once upon a time, you were a little child who was mesmerized by fairy tales and ogre stories. You played hide and seek without any care as to what people thought about you. You mimicked other people; laughed at the slightest provocation, and shed tears of joy and pain in equal measure. That unfettered, jovial, carefree and playful child is still within you. That boy or girl still craves happiness. Play with little children. Engage in their games.
- Sleep, Baby, Sleep
In our busy world, sleep is fast becoming a luxury. We are too busy running errands and eking out a living to care about taking a nap. Your brain and body need rest. That way you recuperate and get the strength you need for another day. Think of a baby and how it cries when it lacks sleep. Think of how playful the same baby becomes moments after waking up from restful sleep. That is what will happen to you when you embrace regular sleep or unscheduled naps.
- Do Something Else
Creativity decreases with monotony. When you perform repetitive tasks, your body is overwhelmed by your predictable movement. If you have been writing for hours and are bored, why not listen to music? Get rid of the junk in your house. Do whatever will make you break the monotony and your will begin to think creatively again.
- Inject Yourself With A Dose Of Laughter
You have heard that laughter is medicine to the bones. Sometimes you need to look at the funny side of life. Find something to laugh about, including your past mistakes. Go and watch that comedy at the theater. How about a funny movie or a sitcom featuring your favorite comedian? Doing this revitalizes your mind and your creative energies.
- Hook Up With Friends
People you love and whose company you enjoy can be your greatest source of inspiration. When your creative fuel tank is almost empty, call that funny friend of yours and share a cup of coffee. Relieve those funny experiences that you share.
- Admit Defeat And Move On
When you think about failure constantly, your creativity suffers. To avoid this, be sincere with yourself and admit it when you have failed. You are not a paragon. You are made of flesh and blood. Nobody said you must know everything. When you can’t handle an issue anymore, and it is costing you more than you are investing in it, admit defeat and look for another challenge.
- Indulge Your Senses
You will do yourself a great favor if you find a way to invigorate each of your senses when your creativity goes down. When was the last time you plucked a rose flower, and imbibed its sweet aroma? Eat that meal you have craved or never tried. Go for a full-body massage. Go birdwatching. Listen to a different kind of music. This way, your creativity will be revived.
Whatever you choose to do, remember you cannot accomplish much when your creative batteries are running low.
Your Grace Guru
People in the world are becoming lonelier despite the increasing population and more ways of making friends. Before you dismiss my assertion, you must understand that by ‘lonely’ I do not mean isolated. Actually, you can be alone but not lonely.
Loneliness is not a good experience. Can you imagine being at the centre of a crowd yet you are feeling lonely? Think about it this way: You are attending a celebratory event, partaking of all the eating and fun, yet you are not part and parcel of the crowd. You feel lost amongst friends.
The Extreme Effects of Loneliness
Did I hear you say that one can only be lonely in the remote parts of our planets? Let me startle you a bit. In one of the Koreas, it is reported that people are so lonely that they are watching videos of other people taking dinner! That is how serious loneliness is for people around the world. To aggravate matters, people that suffer from loneliness are likely to die early. It turns out being out of touch with people and social life is harmful to your health and life. Research also indicates that social circles are reducing in circumference. Today, you are likely to have fewer friends than you had several years ago.
What Causes Loneliness?
Considering the negative effects of loneliness and the interdependence of human beings, it is imperative that we find ways of averting loneliness. We need to remember, though, that loneliness begins in the mind before extending into the physical realm. The moment you lose touch with yourself, you begin to feel lonely. If people are not coalescing around and you feel like they are isolating you, more often than not it is because you have created an aura of loneliness around you. Consequently, any effort to fight loneliness must recognize the role your temperament and conduct play in creating this condition.
The moment you begin to feel comfortable and confident with yourself, you begin to find freedom from loneliness. Having low self-esteem leads one to seek validation from others from a defeatist point of view. The fight against loneliness, therefore, begins from within as it moves to the outside.
Here’s How To Overcome Loneliness
1. Appreciate Yourself: There are countless reasons to love yourself, but only you can identify and appreciate them, before others do. Within you is a great person, waiting to be expressed and to enrich the world with exceptional talents and gifts. You are valuable to the world even as you are unique. It is important for you to learn to ideologically distance your ‘self’ from you and the appreciate it. When you value yourself, you will always find something worthwhile to do, irrespective of where you are. Your thoughts will be geared towards making most of the time you have either with friends, family or yourself. You will not fear to be alone because that is when you imbibe the wisdom that you share with those you meet.
2. Create Time to Feed Your Soul and Mind: People grow emotionally and in personality when they have time with themselves. You must find time to withdraw away from the public to think and meditate about yourself in order to appreciate who you are. Moments of silence, isolation and profound reflection are crucial for people who want to overcome loneliness.
You need to occasionally hike up the hill alone. One of these fine days, take a boat and explore the deeper parts of the lake. Take time to read a book that motivates you. Go out on a date by yourself where you can enjoy a meal to celebrate who you are. Keep a journal to jot down and later reflect on your experiences.
3. Identify and Address The Cause of Your Condition: Deep inside you is a voice that you cannot silence. If you listen to it, it will tell you why you are lonely. Once you realize the root cause of your problem, address it. If the problem is related to people around you, for example those who have hurt you or you have hurt, seek for peace. If the reason you feel lonely is because you have no confidence in yourself, you may need to consult a life-coach or someone who can help you overcome your self-confidence issues. Self-pity and relocation to another city or neighborhood will not work in the long run. Confronting your fears and the people and objects that represent your phobias is a great step towards liberation from loneliness.
4.Appreciate Others and Create Time For Them: While loneliness and being alone are not the same, they are related. That is why people who travel away from home for prolonged duration’s often feel lonely. They are far removed from their loved ones and cannot participate in the rituals and excitement of friendship and family. It is for this reason that you need to create time to be with the people that value and love you. Never miss a social event deliberately. When people are celebrating birthdays, weddings, funerals and other social events, avail yourself. Make time for sick folks in hospitals and homes. Help out in community service and emergencies. Be present in good times and in bad moments.
5. Do What Makes You Happy: Loneliness is a product of disengaging yourself from that which makes you who you are. The moment you forget to pander to the whims of the kid in you, you begin to feel lonely. I am talking about that carefree fella who likes to have fun. That old self that appreciates loving and begin loved.Feed that little rascal that wants to laze on the sofa and watch television after days of work. That little ‘you’ that you are trying to stifle still enjoys taking a cup of coffee with friends. He or she loves a holiday and the occasional bungee diving or other daring sport. Be carefree at times and loneliness will take a flight.
That said, if you still feel lonely after trying these tips, get help from a professional because the problem could be deeper than we think.
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
One of the most renowned experiments on the close connection between the body and the mind is the placebo effect. Simply put, the placebo effect holds that when a sick person is given a counterfeit pill or one that resembles an actual pill but has zero effect, the patient will be cured, not because the medicine has any effect, but because of the patient’s unreserved belief in the efficacy of that pill.
The Starting Point
That will form the starting point as we seek to understand the powerful effect the mind has on other faculties of the body. Dr Lissa Rankin, a physician and researcher established in a study that the prevalence of diseases and concomitant expenditure was almost as high in poor neighbourhoods as they were in posh California areas.
The Poor And The Rich, Alike, Get Sick
While everybody would expect poor folks to have higher risks of falling sick due to poor dietary practices, lack of exercise, smoking and drug abuse among other practices, people in wealthier areas were also at risk, to the surprise of many. This study brought to the fore the fact that contrary to the teachings of conventional medicine, it was important to unleash a holistic approach to treatment of illnesses, especially to embrace the marvels of the mind.
The Law of Attraction
Another important issue to consider when pondering how strong the power of the mind is lies within the law of attraction. Over the years, philosophers, theologians, quantum physicists and other professionals have come to the conclusion that when the mind consistently holds on to a thought pattern, whatever is being thought about comes to pass.
There have been many reports of people who have transformed their financial fortunes as well as other spheres of life by using the law of attraction. Some terminally ill patients, who had been informed by physicians that they would not live for long, have been known to walk out of their hospital beds into flourishing wellbeing.
Now, To The Immense Powers Of The Mind
These and other developments in the study of the mind illustrate just how powerful this organ is. However, in order to understand, to a greater depth, the powers of the mind, let us delve into the specifics.
1. Healing Of Diseases: For many years, faith healing has been practiced but is always dismissed by most medical practitioners. The field of medicine or conventional healing has been aided to an extent by the discovery of the power of the mind. According to experimental studies carried out at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind/Body Medicine, located in Massachusetts, patients who underwent a number of mindfulness techniques (e.g. meditation, and mantra) demonstrated significant gene changes, which helped to decelerate ageing, improve metabolism and relaxation, and regulate insulin in their bodies.
The practice of mindfulness created changes in the DNA that led to remarkable health improvements for participating patients. In essence, the power of the mind was called into action to aid conventional medicine and what resulted was more than could have been accomplished through common therapeutic means. With more experiments, we could witness a decrease in global expenditure on medicine and healthcare. The irony is that this power has always been with us yet medical practitioners did not find it prudent to try it on human beings.
2. Assuaging Of Physical Pain: The study of the mind has also led to interesting findings that have impacted the way we understand and deal with pain. To begin with, the placebo effect indicates that the mind actually has control over the body. While pain is real and cannot be wished away, it is evident that the human body has its own healing mechanisms which are domiciled in the mind. It is possible now to understand how faith-healers work, whether they (faith-healers) understand the rationale or not. The moment one believes that they are going to be healed, the mind starts to work towards the healing of that person.
The connection between the mind and the body, though unseen, is very powerful to the point of bringing relief from pain. This discovery has led many to believe that what we call ‘miracles’ of healing are merely the manifestations of the healing power of the mind on body maladies. Again, if such a discovery is actualized people will spend less on medicine and healthcare systems will not be as strained as they are today.
3. Emotional Healing: Did you know that emotional pain is as excruciating as physical hurt? The fact that people who hurt emotionally may not exhibit physical injuries does not mean that they are hurting less. Studies have established that the same mechanisms that work in emotional throbbing are the ones involved in physical pain. The brain is created in such a way that it does not differentiate between sources of pain. When people lose a loved one or go through a breakup, the aching they feel has the same potency as if they had been hurt physically.
But there is something that should worry you more. While physical pain lasts for certain duration and disappears, emotional pain stays for a longer time. Every time a person is reminded of the hurtful event that stung their feelings, chances are that the wound will become fresh again and pain even more. It takes time and deliberate acceptance of circumstances for the mind to bring about healing. Need we be careful about the emotional pain we inflict on other people? We should.
4. Managing Stress: Another important area of medical research that has benefited a lot from understanding the power of the brain is stress management. One fact about the brain is that it cannot differentiate between real threats and those that don’t exist. We all know the reality of stress even when it emanates from genuine issues that put the lives and comfort of those we love and ourselves at risk. And life has so many of these, many of which emanate from the people we interact with daily.
However, we need to understand that even imagined stress can have a devastating effect on our lives because the brain considers it stress. Whatever we imagine that can bring pain into our lives eventually hurts us. The solution, thankfully, lies in the same mind. We can visualize ourselves doing away with both real and imagined stress and it will be gone as simply as it came. The moment we realize that we can change our thinking and change our circumstances, we rid ourselves of negative stress that can easily destroy us.
5. Learning Through Visualisation: The mind is so powerful that we can use it to learn without actually being in a learning environment. The brain has a capability called neuroplasticity, which implies that it devices new pathways on a continuous basis. By repeating a routine when learning a skill, we strengthen the pathways which carry the respective action. That happens when you are in a classroom trying to learn a skill. However, the brain does not differentiate between what you actually perform and what you visualise.
According to the great Albert Einstein, you are better off with imagination than with knowledge, if you were to choose between the two. In essence, if you imagine carrying out some action using your brain, the mind will react as if you are in actual practice. Visualization is, therefore, a very important aspect of learning. This should be of great interest to educationists.
6.Goal Achievement: Now, this may shock many because it is unprecedented. Did you know that when you speak about your goals, your brain believes you have achieved them? Wow! Your mouth may be your downfall, after all. Experts have established that the moment you start telling others of the goals you intend to achieve, the brain confuses your talking for action, thus depriving you of the motivation to achieve an ‘already attained’ goal.
Talking about your goals gives you satisfaction and sends the signal to the brain that you don’t need any more inspiration and inner strength to reach out. Methinks we should keep quiet about our dreams and wait until we have accomplished them. Once again, a goal in mind tells the brain to give you the resources you need to achieve it. What a discovery!
7. Boosting Your Mood: Put a smile on your face now because there is good news. Did you know that your facial expression affects your emotions? The brain (how “confused” this organ is) cannot differentiate between a fake and a genuine smile. This means that the moment stress engulfs you, you can laugh your way out of it. A fake smile has the same effect on your brain and relieves stress the same way a real smile does. When you facial muscles move to form a smile, the brain interprets it as a positive emotion and stress takes a flight.
Something is the matter and you are stressed? Laugh at your problems. Hide from people and smile your way out. Someone is stressing you out, pretend not to be upset and smile instead. Don’t frown because this will strengthen bad moods. Make it your reaction to always meet stress with a smile because you have a brain that is so powerful that it does not realize you are pretending you are happy!
The Parting Shot
This space is not enough to elaborate exhaustively just how powerful the mind is. However, with this knowledge, you can live a better life because you can handle physical and emotional hurt as well as ubiquitous stress.
Hopefully, scientists and other interested parties will continue to discover other marvellous capabilities of the brain that would help us live happier and longer lives. Until then, let us toast to the most powerful computer ever created – your brain!
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.
Your Grace Guru!
According to Vedanta philosophy, there are two categories of happiness. The first type of happiness is the one that is a result of things turning out the way we want them to be. For example, we can say we are happy because of our friends, family or even children. We are happy because of certain resources that are affecting us, resources that can be taken any time e.g. they aren’t permanent by nature – You could lose your job or wife, so reasons for this type of happiness can be lost any time.
The second category of happiness isn’t as a result of something we achieve or something we do but it’s a state of being. It doesn’t depend on the outer circumstances or our moods. As a result of this state our inner self tends to become calm and exuberant. Pure joy, in this case, is a result of a connection in our deepest state of unbound awareness.
Listed below are keys that will ensure lasting happiness in your life.
- Listen to your body’s behaviour and needs…
What are you comfortable doing and what are you not comfortable doing? When you are undertaking a task, ask yourself, “Do I like doing this?” If your body displays signs of distress and agony or anguish don’t proceed with the work. However, if you feel comfortable and eager to do the chore, please continue. Know what you love doing and what you detest doing then follow what your body says.
- Pay the most attention to the present…
Live and enjoy the present and always keep in mind it’s the only time you have. Accept what comes your way, maximize whatever it is and learn from it. Keep attention to what is on the table at the moment. The infinite laws of nature should be left the way they are, and life should be enjoyed to the fullest the way it is. The present is the way it is. The current moment is as it is because the world and universe are at is.
Ignore what others have to say about you. People may say all sorts of things because of how you look, the way you dress but you should ignore all the negative comments. Discover the infinite possibilities that you have on your hands. Look at life positively.
- Eat healthy…
Avoid alcohol and other fermented foods. Expose your body to safe and clean environments, nourishing foods, and happy and comforting experiences. Consider your life to be a life support system. It is like a transport system that will take you to where you desire to be. For you to arrive safely at a particular place, you need a road worthy vehicle. The same way, you should keep your body healthy. Avoid contaminating your body with toxins such as cigarettes, or liquor. Desist from alcoholic drinks. The human body is made up of cells that contribute to the state of comfort and well-being. Therefore, keep every single cell in your body in its purest form.
- According to psychology, the natural state of us humans is a state of love. Fear, hate and distress counter the state of love…
You should, therefore, build a “wall” that will shield all the hate and negative statements from your family and friends. Take part in undertakings that will have a positive impact in your life such as team building exercises. Take any fears you have and come up with ways of countering them with compassion and love. Instead of fearing exams, why don’t you study hard and work hard for them so that you won’t have to fear the outcome of the results. Once you read and revise, you will be happy when you receive your results. You can face threats because your inner self is invulnerable and impenetrable to fear.
- Create time for meditation and relaxation of the mind…
Meditation can be explained as the gateway to high levels of self-awareness, linking the mind to our inner power and eventually to self-worth. Look for space and release your feelings, breathe in the clean air, and discover your inner happiness and peace. You could start short e.g. with a ten-minute meditation either by listening to calming music or just relaxing over something that works for you. You could eventually lengthen the time you meditate by staying for longer periods every week.
How about you start each meditation session with a short prayer. Don’t ask for stuff, instead, connect your higher self and your source of light. Make it a habit, a daily practice. Pay a lot of attention to your inner life and shun external interpretations that aren’t good for you such as animosity and deception.
- Find a place in your heart to forgive…
Avoid reacting to opposition or anger with hatred, because through that, you will stressing yourself. You will make things worse because you will end up filling up your heart with disgust, and you will end up being furious. How about, you relinquish your anger as, through that, you will be cooperating with the universe flow of peace and tranquility.
- Show me who are your acquaintances and I will describe your character…
Such are wise words that we should always remember so as to remain happy. Your world “out there”, replicates your reality “in here”. Persons who you react with abhorrence and revulsion project your inner world. Be nice to those close to you. Whatever you love and care about most is what you wish for yourself. If you love someone and care about them, it means you would want the same for yourself. The key objective here is self-knowledge.
What Will Affect A Peaceful Mind?
- Special attachment is dangerous…
What we all call love is nothing but special attachment to someone or something. Such kind of attachment isn’t recommended.
If there is love, I will be at your service. Whatever you need, I will provide.
If there is attachment, I will look at you and ask myself, “What kind of service do you provide?”
One partner states: I deserve this because I married you.
The other half says: I deserve this because I married you.
This form of special treatment often passes off as love, because both the husband and the wife think that life is all about rights and not duties.
Affection + Egotism = Attachment | Attachment – Egotism = Affection.
Understand the statements written above. I don’t dispute love and its existence. I am just a firm believer that attachment isn’t something that should be approved.
Attachment is all about how many times you will see your partner and, therefore, there is no space for anything to blossom between the two of you. With love, you are open with each other, and there is a chance for discovery of new things between you two. Just like when flowers bloom during the spring season, your relationship will blossom, and you will be happy when there is love.
- Control your desires…
Uncontrolled feelings and desires cause mayhem. We are humans, and as humans, we can’t live without desires, needs and wants. However, the tricky part is, can we control our feelings? What happens once we let our emotions rage?
Feelings can be uncomfortable at times. Controlling what you feel doesn’t necessarily mean repressing or ignoring them all together. It means keeping them in check, the same way that thermostat keeps the room temperatures in your house in check. Doing so will help you become emotionally stable as well as bettering your health.
The best way of keeping your emotions in check is to focus more on your physical senses. For instance, is your heart beat rate faster? How are muscles behaving? Are they tense or tightened? Is your breathing shallow or rapid?
Acknowledge your emotions instead of suppressing them. Once you know they are there e.g. sweaty palms, and a faster heartbeat, you will be able to relax and heed what your body is communicating.
If you have heightened muscles, you could try PMR (Progressive Muscle Relaxation). PMR will enable you to identify any muscular tension in your body
Look for a quiet and relaxing environment and calm down. Relax for about 10-20 minutes.
Ensure you are always comfortable. Wear clothes that you like. Try to wear loose fitting clothes. Cleansing and deep breaths will help calm your mind and muscles.
Curl your toes as tight as you can for 5-10 seconds. Relax your muscles for around 20 seconds, and then move to the other foot. Do the same for all the other muscles in your body including those on your stomach, buttocks, lips, eyes, forehead, upper arms, hands, hips, thighs, feet and the forehead.
If you are always working, or if you are always busy, focus on the facial muscles. Engaging in such activities will help you relieve any stress you may have.
You could use visualization methods to relax. Picture yourself in a safe place. That place should be soothing and relaxing. That calm place could be quietest park you know, your bedroom, the spa, your worship place, or the beach. Create as much detail as you can. What do you smell, hear, feel, or touch?
You could imagine yourself as that pebble that’s thrown in the ocean. The pebble will drift away as the waves rise. Picture your problems to be that pebble. Imagine all that negativity, hate and animosity are drifting away just like a pebble. Comforting, isn’t it?
Visualization often seems weird in the beginning, but once you practice it, you will find it normal and comforting.
- What do you operate on? If they are likes or dislikes, be ready for consequences…
We are all unique in different ways. What I desire, might not be what you desire. For instance, a person might find pleasure in smoking, but another guy might not stand it. Some guy may look forward to selling his condo; another, on the other hand, can’t wait to buy it. Such happens everywhere.
What might be happy for someone may end up being sad and sorrowful for another. Therefore, it’s not a being or thing but how you relate and share with it. It’s not the external world that wrecks your peace but rather how you relate to it.
When you are operating on the mind level, it’s all about what you like and dislike and that is dangerous. For example, if you go to a certain country, and you find whatever food you like isn’t part of the menu, so what next? You will end up furious. And that will dent on the level of happiness you intend to achieve.
You should, therefore, operate on the intellect level instead of likes and dislikes as that will help you choose the correct path.
- The mind has a tendency of wandering…
Sometimes the mind rambles when you are talking to someone. It’s a little bit tough to concentrate 100%, even if you really want to. Lots of things are always running through our minds. The haunting past, anxieties about the future often affects our concentration.
Such worries tire us and tire our minds. Take time off and relax.
Avoid working on the weekends. Relax your mind, take a walk at the beach or spend your Saturday at the park. Children are most of the time happy. You have ever asked yourself why? Because they never worry about the past or future. Their minds are always relaxed and therefore, they are always joyful and happy.
Once You Change, You Will Be Able To Change The World!
Be the change that you want to see on the planet. Do things that you would want to see happen on the earth. If you decide to change your thoughts, your actions, the world around you will change.
View your environment with new lenses. I know everyone would like to see a clean and airy environment free from all filth and waste from non-biodegradable goods. I know you love it when the air is clean. Since you like it that way, then why would you want to engage in practices that will be detrimental to the environment such as unclean energy sources e.g. coal energy. Isn’t that going against what you would want the world to be? If you want a clean earth, green, use clean energy sources such as solar power. Avoid littering the environment. The main problem of changing the world without changing yourself is that you will still be you even after you change the environment that you dwell in. With all your negativity, hatred and flaws, you will stain the world with your sabotaging tendencies.
With you being in such kind of situation, you will not achieve whatever you intended because your mind is full of all that negativity.
Avoid spending so much time on other people’s mistakes e.g. “I wish he didn’t walk like that”, “I wish he didn’t drink that beer” Sometimes we end up forcing our closest friends or family members to change. The truth of the matter is, it’s a little bit challenging to change a person for who he or she is.
Instead, be an example, a beacon of hope. If you wish your spouse to be more positive, allow your positivism to permeate your relationship.
Your Grace Guru