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31 Oct

How to Have a Daring Conversation

An excerpt from Step into Your Moxie by Alexia Vernon

The word moxie has become synonymous with vigor, verve, pep, courage, nerve, aggressiveness, skill, and know-how, and the new book Step into Your Moxie: Amplify Your Voice, Visibility, and Influence in the World by speaking and leadership coach Alexia Vernon presents a soul-stirring call to action for women to speak up for themselves and the ideas and issues that matter most to them. We hope you’ll enjoy this excerpt from the book.

 

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The key to having a daring conversation is giving yourself enough time to properly prepare for one — but not so much time that you never have it, or that by the time you have it, the person you are speaking with either has no idea what you are talking about or the situation that was such a big deal to us didn’t even register on her Richter scale. While time is subjective, and the ten to twenty minutes of sensation I feel before I speak may feel like twenty eternities in purgatory for someone who is brand-new to speaking, when it comes to a daring conversation, as a rule it’s best to have it within a week of deciding your organs could finally unstick themselves if you said something. And before you do, here is how you can set up yourself, and the other parties involved, for success.

 

The words that we use, from moment to moment, in a conversation where conflict could transpire (or has transpired) often determine whether things go difficult or daring. I recommend using the following words as often as possible:

Yes. My favorite agreement word. Ever. It makes someone instantly feel seen and heard. You can say “yes” after someone shares an idea, an opinion, or a feeling, but do refrain from saying “yes and” and then redirecting the conversation back to you. “Yes and” works great in comedy, but “yes” as a complete sentence usually works better in daring conversations.

Thank you. You can say “thank you” to someone for sharing where she is coming from, for being vulnerable, for telling you the truth, for helping you understand her perspective, or for acknowledging wrongdoing or committing to better behavior in the future.

What I want for us is… These words work great for communicating what you want from the conversation. Try not to use them to linguistically wrestle for power over someone but rather to propose something that the other person, no matter his or her perspective, likely wants too.

Tell me more. This phrase works whenever people are dropping into vulnerability and you want them to know you really want to hear what’s going on, even if it’s uncomfortable. Or, on the flip side, this short phrase is effective when you want to nudge people beyond surface talk so they can go to the source of what’s truly going on.

I’m sorry. This is a very appropriate response when you have truly done something wrong, you want to take responsibility for it, and even more important, you want to communicate what you will do differently moving forward. Sometimes you may be sorry for the way someone is feeling, or the way you unintentionally made her or him feel — even if you haven’t done anything super sorry-
worthy. Be clear on what you are sorry for, and state that. (Again, please don’t think I’m giving you a hall pass for giving your power away. The kind of “I’m sorry” I’m recommending here is different from the “I’m sorry” you use when you feel insecure or actually want someone else to apologize to you. “I’m sorry” must not be a quid pro quo.)

What do you need (from me) in order to move forward? When you brainstorm creative ways to play nicely together in the future, the ultimate expression of compassionate (and super vulnerable) power is to ask what someone else would like to see from you now and in the future. This question alone can resurrect a relationship from collapse, if and when safety has been created in a conversation and everyone is fully committed to a mutually beneficial outcome.

 

Words and Phrases That Keep Conversations Difficult

On the flip side, I recommend avoiding, at all costs, the following words and phrases, regardless of how entitled you feel to use them or how hooked into them you have been in the past. Why? Because they build a wall between you and the other party — and they are a direct flight back from the land of daring to the land of difficult:

A lot of yous (especially when the conversation is past-oriented). The word you often lands as an accusation and can trigger defensive and blaming behavior. Instead, strive to use the word we. Collective language, whether it’s about what’s happened in the past or what you are committing to in the future, keeps conversations daring.

That’s not what I… It’s easy to go all antagonized attack dog when someone misuses or misinterprets what you have said. Should this happen, calmly (and silently) note the misunderstanding to yourself. Somebody is not receiving the message you are intending to send. Instead of pulling out the claws and taking a bite, take a breath, and then use appropriate words and phrases from the preceding section to explain yourself again. The more uncomplicated you make your second attempt, the more likely it is that your message will be interpreted correctly.

That’s not my problem/responsibility (or that’s your problem/responsibility). Though this is an ugly cousin of the last phrase, I’m calling this one out separately. Because no matter whose problem or responsibility something is (or isn’t), stating this (even if you are entitled to), is like lighting a match by a gas line outside your house and wondering why you burned your entire neighborhood down.

[Something conciliatory] but… No more buts in high-stakes conversations! As we explored in chapter 4, a but negates everything that has come before it. And when you have one foot in a difficult conversation and the other in a daring one, this word can pull you back into the former faster than a preschooler can get her entire family sick during cold and flu season. (I may be wearing a face mask as I write this chapter. Trust the analogy. It’s as tight as my mask.)

[So-and-so] said… Please avoid gossip and triangulation. Leave third and fourth parties out. All that matters is what’s transpiring right now, between you and the other person or parties before you. If you need to address somebody else’s role in a situation, set up a separate time and a separate daring conversation for that.

 

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Alexia Vernon is the author of Step into Your Moxie. Branded a “Moxie Maven” by President Obama’s White House Office of Public Engagement, she is a sought-after speaking and leadership coach who delivers transformational keynotes and corporate trainings for Fortune 500 companies and other professional groups and organizations, including the United Nations and TEDx. Visit her online at www.alexiavernon.com.

 

Excerpted from the book Step into Your Moxie: Amplify Your Voice, Visibility, and Influence in the World. Copyright ©2018 by Alexia Vernon. Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.

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11 Oct

Are Your Thoughts Derailing Your Resilience?

An excerpt from Resilience by Linda Graham

Everyone knows what it’s like to be knocked off center, to lose their inner sense of balance and groundedness, at least temporarily, when faced with life’s unwanted curve balls. Whether it’s a troubling health diagnosis, the death of a loved one, a serious car accident, a layoff, or a natural disaster, life can intensely challenge our resilience.

In Resilience: Powerful Practices for Bouncing Back from Disappointment, Difficulty, and Even Disaster (New World Library, October 2, 2018), author and psychotherapist Linda Graham, MFT, guides readers step by step through a process of cultivating more well-being in their lives by strengthening their resilience so that they can respond skillfully to any upset or catastrophe that would derail that well-being. We hope you’ll enjoy this excerpt from the book.

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Sometimes your thoughts can drive you crazy, blocking clear thinking and impeding response flexibility. Sometimes your thoughts trigger further thoughts, evaluations, judgments, and condemnations that reduce your resilience. These thought patterns are ways of filtering reality that can be counterproductive.

You can learn to work mindfully with your thoughts, and with all the amazing, creative, dazzling constructs of your default network mode, especially when those constructs turn dark or constricting, so that you can also experience their coming and going. Even your deeply held beliefs about the truth of the way things are can shift. And you can come to understand the processes of your brain that create, install, and defend those constructs to the death.

Here’s a list of common thought processes that human beings use to filter their experience.

  1. Assumptions: We learn from past experience, and based on that experience we sometimes think we know more than we know. We filter our perceptions of reality through those assumptions rather than seeing clearly what is actually true or needed now.
  2. Projections: We assume that what we have learned is true for ourselves is true for other people as well. We project our assumptions onto them, usually without their knowledge or permission, abandoning theory of mind.
  3. Objectification: We lose the sense of ourselves or another person as an active agent of changing experience. Instead we see ourselves (and others) as an object, a thing, an “It” at the mercy of external events and other people’s choices, powerless to change our experience (or our responses to it).
  4. Mind reading: We presume we know what another person is thinking, feeling, or needing without empathically checking with them. Or we may presume that the other person already knows what we think or need without bothering to tell them directly: “If you loved me, you would know how I feel.”
  5. Discounting the positive: We fail to register positive traits in ourselves or in others, belittling ourselves, devaluing others, and deflecting or neglecting appreciation in either direction.
  6. Overgeneralizing: We may exaggerate attributes of an experience, perceiving things as global and pervasive, applying to everything and everybody; we see things as “always” or “never.” We may take things personally whether or not that’s true or relevant, seeing things as permanent and unchanging. (This overgeneralizing is known as the three Ps: pervasive, personal, permanent.)
  7. Catastrophizing: We may immediately assume the worst: if we sneeze, we assume we’re catching a cold, which means missing work for three weeks, which means losing the job, which means losing our home — from sniffle to disaster in less than three seconds.
  8. Black-and-white thinking: We see everything in categorical terms, with no shades of gray, few options, and no possibilities of compromise. This rigidity in thinking, which can lead to a serious derailing of response flexibility, is also known as neural cement.
  9. Inability to disconfirm: We are so rigid in our opinions that no new information can change them.

You may recognize similar patterns in your thinking.

Exercise: Identifying Thought Processes That Derail Resilience

  1. Review the list above. Identify any of these patterns you recognize as operational in you or in people you know, without attaching any shame or blame. For now, simply acknowledge any patterns you identify that you might want to rewire later.
  2. Pick one pattern relevant to you that you’re willing to investigate; it need not be the one that is most difficult for you.
  3. Track this pattern in your thinking for a week. Notice when this pattern is operating in your thinking; notice when it’s not.

Becoming aware of your common patterns of perceiving and responding, and acknowledging them in your conscious awareness, is essential if you want to rewire them. Steadying your awareness with more and more difficult objects of awareness is reflective resilience.

Mental constructs can be very stable and long-lasting, more like the climate you live in than the weather that changes from day to day. Emotions that might flit through your awareness in a matter of minutes or half a day (weather) can settle into a longer-lasting mood (climate). The moods we deem negative — depression, discouragement, despair — are the ones we’re more likely to notice and want to shift than the lighter-hearted moods of joy or contentment.

As human beings, we adopt roles, preferences, priorities, and goals that filter our perceptions and shape our responses over long periods of time. We prioritize family over work, or work over family, based on deeply held values and convictions. We construct entire philosophies of living, belief systems, and identities that filter our perceptions and response to reality. Formulating values to live by is part of resilience: they are part of a moral compass that guides our life choices. But locking ourselves into values that cannot be changed in response to new experiences is not resilient.

At this stage of new conditioning, you’re simply training your awareness to realize that any thought is a product of the processes of your brain, and thus any thought can change. Entire patterns of thought, no matter how complex, can change. Roles, preference, priorities, and even entire belief systems can change over time — and they do.

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Linda Graham, MFT, is the author of Resilience and also Bouncing Back, the winner of a 2013 Books for a Better Life Award. She is an experienced psychotherapist who integrates modern neuroscience, mindfulness practices, and relational psychology in her international trainings on resilience and well-being. Visit her online at www.lindagraham-mft.net.

 

Excerpted from the book Resilience: Powerful Practices for Bouncing Back from Disappointment, Difficulty, and Even Disaster. Copyright ©2018 by Linda Graham. Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.

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28 Aug

CONQUER CHANGE & WIN IN A NUTSHELL

conquer change and win bookGuest Post By Ralph Masengill
Want to be very successful? Here is a simple secret few take advantage of in their personal or business life. You will be a true winner only if you are:

1. Willing to take a calculated risk and endorse positive change on a regular basis.
2. Learning how change affects our emotions and our feelings.

Let’s take a short journey together.

What we are talking about is understanding the risk of change. Why is it so important that we know about and understand change? We humans, and there are no exceptions, are constantly involved in change. Change never stops. It is always constantly going on in us and around us. The truly successful men and women of the world have a good understanding of change and how you can manipulate change to your advantage. You cannot stop it, but you can control most change. You can always control the emotions that change causes in all of us.

Are you in a personal or business rut? In a rut, you have no control where that rut will take you. You have lost your freedom to act. To not change is to lose control of your future. To be in a rut is losing your freedom to control your life, business or both. Laurence J. Peter states that “A rut is a grave with the ends knocked out.” He is talking about life without understanding the importance of the affects that change has on all humans.

Mark Twain put it his way “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So, throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor.” Many good people refuse to accept the risk and uncertainty that change always brings with it. They stay in a self-imposed rut. They force themselves to live in a stagnant prison of their own making. They have part of it right. There can be some security in a prison. I would name that prison Opportunity Lost. When it comes to change we really only have two choices. One is to embrace change with gusto. The second is to stay in a rut by refusing to admit that all change is constant, live in denial and because they made a bad choice end up losing their freedom to act. The solution is to simply agree to devote time and effort to understanding change and how it makes us feel.

Someone said, “Life isn’t about how to survive the storm, but how to dance in the rain”. I believe the happiest and most successful people do not necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything they have. Choose Change. It is the path to true happiness and business success.

You and I are always undergoing continuous change intended or not. The exciting truth is the more we know about change, both positive and negative change, the more we can profit from change. If you want a more enjoyable and profitable personal and business life, you must have a solid understanding of what change is and how it makes us and the people we deal with feel. In other words, understanding change and how it makes all people feel will put you in a winning position in your life and your business.

If that is true and it is, what is change and how does it affect all of us on a continuous basis? After 40 years of study and research here is my definition of change:

All men and women regard all change both good and bad change with a feeling of loss (examples would be remorse or that pit of the stomach feeling) and that feeling of loss always creates some form of anger, anxiety or fear.

Understanding how change works can change your life for the better and give you a solid advantage. That is a guarantee. Here are some amazing facts about continuous change.

1. Most of us will not change until the pain of not changing is greater than the pain of changing.

2. You and I often prefer the security of known misery, to the supposed misery of unfamiliar insecurity.

3. Change is consistent, intended or not.

Number one on the list above was true for me in a big way. Until I learned how to handle continuous change and the feelings change had on my personality nothing seemed to get better. I seemed to be stuck in a continuous rut. Understanding continuous change turned my humdrum life around. Understanding change is not hard but you must work at it on a regular basis. Understanding change can be the one thing that can put you in the winner’s circle often. It did just that for me.

What do others say about change?

“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” Andy Warhol

“Only I can change my life. No one can do it for me.” Carol Burnett

“Change your thoughts and you change your world”, Norman Vincent Peale

“Nothing endures but change.” Heraclitus (540BC – 480BC)

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending if you are willing to change.” Maria Robinson

On the Oprah Winfrey Show I heard an interview where Oprah was sharing with a guest about a dream she had where the children in her dream were asking her, “What can you teach me?” She said what she learned from that was, to look at every event in her life from that perspective. Then I realized as she was sharing, that is exactly what has made the difference in my own life in dealing with change. Now I welcome it knowing it leads to a greater understanding of my purpose on this planet. Dealing with both positive and negative change is a learning process that allows you and I to know what kind of emotions (feelings) continuous change will cause.

No one really likes dealing with change, no one. However we all like the results of positive change. We are never in pain because of change, only our resistance to change can cause us pain. Once you stop resisting what happens in your life and accept it the sooner you have the opportunity to feel less stress and set your business and your life up for even more success. For me it was one of those amazing “ah ha” moments where you are never the same after that. To truly be successful in any undertaking you must embrace positive change and the pain the resistance brings willingly and often.

We all take risk every day when we embrace positive change. Do we take a calculated risk or do we sometimes just roll the dice and just hope for the best? The former is not acting on opportunity; it is acting out of ignorance. I admit that in my younger days, I did more rolling of the dice than I want to talk about and I had to pay the price. I paid the price by losing time, money and happiness many times out of my own ignorance about change. One time I almost lost my business. All of us can and should learn from our mistakes. Mistakes can be a teacher. However, it is a very expensive and painful way to learn.

Charles Tremper puts it this way: “The first step in the calculated risk process is to acknowledge the reality of the risk. Denial is a common tactic that substitutes deliberate ignorance for thoughtful planning.” Executing a plan will involve change. Being willing to change is always a calculated risk that should be encouraged. For one thing it is where most business and personal success comes from in today’s world.

Many successful people have something to say about risk taking. Winston Churchill said, “There is nothing wrong with change, if it is the right direction.” Author and lecturer Earl Nightingale stated, “You can measure opportunity with the same yardstick that measures the risk involved. They go together.” I believe it is clear that all positive change requires calculated risk taking. Do your homework and success can be yours.

Is the opposite of risk, security? Some say it is. I believe those people are in error. Here is what Helen Keller had to say about security. “Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” Former President Eisenhower said, “One can find outright security only in a prison. In order to be absolutely secure you must give up your individual freedoms.” Dennis Waitley in one of this lectures said, “Life is inherently risky. To become the success you want to be there is only one big risk you should avoid at all cost. That is the risk of doing nothing.” I personally believe total security is a myth. Understanding how change makes all of us feel makes the task less stressful and more fulfilling.

Without calculated risk and positive change there would be no United States of America and no free enterprise system. Our free enterprise system is based on planned change that requires risk that then creates an opportunity that can lead to a solid reward. Risk and change are things we should get up with gladly every morning. In order to succeed beyond even our most daring dreams we must be willing to accept calculated risk and change as a way of life.

We have all seen or read about a business that does well in a certain market while their competitor offering the same product or service flounders. Ms. Wilcox with her short poem tells us why. She nails it in two sentences. Please take a moment right now and re-read her poem.

First make sure you know how the market “winds” are blowing and then and only then set your business “sails” accordingly using positive change and taking the calculated risk that is always part of the package. Do that correctly and you can, with assurance reach your destination of enhanced sales and profit and/or a better life. You can then taste sweet success.

The first step is to know the direction of the market “winds”. Get this wrong and all your other efforts do not matter. Over the years I have been amazed how little time and money many spend on effective market research. Hunches do have their place in the business “sea”, but this first step is not one of them. Solid accurate market research is the capstone of any good business arch. You must react to the market. You must change in order to win. Get the market “winds” right and make the correct changes and you will take home the profit trophy.

Change is something you must do on a regular basis if you want to be successful in life or business. Resistance to change has always been a part of the human psyche. We must work hard not to resist positive change even though it is not our nature. The solution is simple but not easy. Learn all you can about change and how it makes us all feel and be willing to take a calculated risk. Knowing what to expect when you need to change will help you be all that you want be in this world. Work hard to see positive change as a friend and do not resist this widely misunderstood process. Positive change is just that, a positive. Embrace it and you have a great opportunity to succeed in your personal and business life above your present goals and dreams. Understanding change is well worth the effort required.

View Ralph Masengill’s website at www.masengill.com 

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24 May

Princeton University’s Vertical Farming Project Partners with Local Elementary School

vertical farming projectFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 22, 2018
Media Contact: Stephanie Marshall stephanie@mnspublicity.com

New Vertical Farming Initiative will Provide Cutting Edge Scientific Educational Opportunities for Elementary Students and Enhance School Farm to Cafeteria Program

As Spring weather FINALLY arrives on the East Coast and gardeners and farmers eagerly await the planting season, Hopewell Elementary School Students in New Jersey have been enjoying fresh, organic produce they grow indoor all year

Princeton, NJ: Princeton University’s Vertical Farming Project announced they will partner with Hopewell Elementary School in Hopewell, New Jersey to develop their vertical farm-to-cafeteria program.

Fifth grade teacher at Hopewell Elementary, Helen Corveleyn oversees the school’s outdoor garden beds, six indoor vertical hydroponics towers and has been instrumental in their new vertical farming initiative partnership with Princeton. Corveleyn will work closely with Princeton University’s Dr. Paul Gauthier, founder and director of the Princeton Vertical Farming Project to develop the program at the elementary school. The on-site, indoor classroom will be fully functioning in September 2018 and will allow preschool through fifth grade kids to mirror Princeton’s program while providing kids with fresh, organic produce for lunch and an invaluable introduction to hands on, cutting edge scientific development.

The Princeton Vertical Farming Project focuses on the sustainability and energy efficiency of vertical farming as they study production rates of hydroponic engineering systems along with marketing and economic feasibility. Gauthier says, “Two of the main challenges that vertical farms are facing revolve around awareness and data sharing. Through establishing a resonant collaboration with the Hopewell Elementary School, the Princeton Vertical Farming Project hopes to educate new generations about the benefits of vertical farming, and to inspire them to expand their knowledge through the application of new, groundbreaking research and technologies, which the farm has been producing. Furthermore, this collaboration will create citizen science datasets, which will contribute to the improvement of the vertical farming field as a whole. By inspiring students today, we hope to shape the future of farming and reduce human impacts on the environment.”

Room to Grow–Princeton Vertical Farming Project Video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=80&v=zzXkrIuzslY

Elementary students and teachers have embraced the homemade, nutritious lunch options infused with organic ingredients served in Hopewell Elementary’s cafeteria. Their community is excited for the new vertical farming initiative with the goal of featuring 100% of the lettuce in the cafeteria grown at the school. Additional vegetables and herbs will be grown, harvested and featured as well. Principal David Friedrich’s passion for locally sourced, homemade, organic food for his students is evident in the Organic Menu offered at Hopewell. The menu is now in its third year and has seen a 50% increase in participation from the start. Principal Friedrich says, “At Hopewell Elementary School, we are thrilled to expand the vertical farming initiative which reinforces our commitment to sustainability. As the first public school in New Jersey to offer an organic menu featuring homemade entrees, we will now be able to prepare more nutritious meals infused with our own vegetables and herbs grown and harvested by students. The project also supports hands-on, relevant and high-quality science instruction aligned to Next Generation Science Standards.”

Dr. Thomas Smith, Superintendent of Schools, remarked, “Lead by Mrs. Corveleyn and Principal David Friedrich, the Hopewell Elementary School has been a driving force in our district-wide sustainability efforts. The vertical farming project has captivated the interest of students and staff. By bridging the gap between science and nature, students can observe the real-life connection between farming and food by seeing what is necessary to grow and produce the food we eat. An important part of this project is that virtually all of the food grown in the vertical farm will be used in our school lunches.”

Children respond to living organisms in the classroom with excitement and passion. Typically in an elementary setting, animals and insects are a wonderful way to promote living organism studies, but at Hopewell Elementary School, they have captured a unique Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)–aligned curriculum that is plant-based and integrates both life science and chemistry. Corveleyn remarks, “No child is too young to understand hydroponics. The bottom line is, kids love planting something they know they can eat! Creating an opportunity for sustainable gardening for the future at a young age makes hydroponics not just a buzzword, but a way of life.”

Hopewell Elementary secured several grants to sustain the vertical farming project:
Sustainable Jersey / New Jersey Education Association ($10,000)
BASF Corporation ($5,000)
Hopewell Valley Education Foundation ($4,400)
Hopewell Elementary School PTO ($7,000)
Photo credit, David Friedrich. Additional photos available upon request.

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20 Mar

What is a Chakra?

An excerpt from Chakra Healing for Vibrant Energy by Michelle S. Fondin

Chakras are energy centers within the body. The word chakra means “wheel” or “disk.” Think of the chakras as spinning vortices of energy. Everything is composed of energy and information. Every object emanates from movement and vibration. The seven main chakras align along the spine, starting at the base of the spine and moving up to the crown of the head.

 

In the ancient Indian texts called the Vedas, we learn that the physical body is made up of the five great elements called the mahabhutas. Those five elements are space (akasha), air (vayu), water (jala), fire (tejas), and earth (prithivi). The elements are the building blocks of nature and therefore build our bodies as well.

 

Ancient texts go on to explain that we also have a subtle body. This subtle body is nonphysical and energetic in nature. The subtle body is governed by prana, or vital life force. Prana circulates throughout the body and mind. It is responsible for the flow of energy and information. In the subtle body, prana travels through channels called nadis. Nadis are circulatory channels within the body such as veins, arteries, the respiratory system, the nervous system, the digestive system, the excretory system, and the reproductive system. Think of nadis as the information highway to your mind, body, soul, and spirit, just as the internet is the information highway that brings information to your browser.

 

If you have a difficult time grasping the concept of the subtle body, reflect on your mind and thoughts. Thoughts are nonphysical entities. Yet ask anyone who thinks (and that would include all of us), and they will tell you that thoughts are quite real. Scientists have been able to pinpoint areas in the brain where thoughts originate or take place, but slice open a human head and you won’t find one thought in there. According to Vedic texts, the mind, intellect, and ego also reside within the subtle body.

 

Now let’s go back to the example of the internet. When you want information, you want it fast, right? You’re doing research for a work project or a school report, or getting the scoop on a guy you want to date, and you don’t want to wait forever. In the infancy of the internet, with dial-up modems, you could log on, go get a cup of coffee, use the restroom, do your nails, and then the AOL voice of “You’ve got mail” would finally vibrate in your ever-so-waiting ears. But today, in the world of fiber-optic cables and Wi-Fi, information comes pretty much as quickly as you can type in your question. And when it doesn’t come that fast you get frustrated.

 

For your body to work at an optimal level, the channels through which information travels must be open for that information to get quickly to its destination. If they’re blocked, or if there is an abnormality where the information pools in a given area, you won’t receive the information you need when you need it. So the nadis are the highways or the fiber-optic cables, and prana is the package of information that needs to be carried.

 

In total, we have around 88,000 chakras in the body, and the seven main chakras are the information hubs. They gather information on certain aspects of your body, mind, spirit, health, and life. When adequate energy flows to these chakras, that energy fills the area with the information each chakra needs to perform its unique specialty.

 

Like a highway, your body is constantly moving, changing, growing, and being modified by outside influences. While you may intend to keep the energy and information flowing throughout your body at all times, your lifestyle choices, life experiences, and outside influences may hinder the flow. Fortunately, certain practices can help keep these channels open and information flowing freely, and in this book you will learn what you need to do to achieve this goal quickly and easily.

The Philosophy of the Chakras

The concept of the chakras comes from ancient Indian texts of the Tantric tradition. Tantra is a complicated and important nonreligious philosophy. The Tantric texts are separate from the famously known Indian texts, the Vedas, from whence Ayurveda came.

 

In the West we tend to associate the word Tantra with sex. While sex is mentioned in the Tantric texts, it’s meant to be reserved as a practice for only the most advanced yoga practitioners. The main goal of Tantra is to explore the deep mysteries of life and to become liberated within the confines of this world.

 

The word Tantra means “to weave.” Tantra is the process of weaving together the body, which has great wisdom, and the mind, which has immense power. By heeding the wisdom of the body and by harnessing the power of the mind you can find the enormous beauty in life on this planet and achieve self-mastery.

 

The symbolism and stories of the chakras, including their deities and mysticism, are beautiful, colorful, complex, and certainly worth exploring. For the sake of brevity, I will teach you the basics of the chakra system. The foreign words I present come from Sanskrit. For the most part, Sanskrit is no longer spoken but is rich in the roots of language, as many modern English words stem from Sanskrit root words.

 

# # #

 

Michelle S. Fondin, author of Chakra Healing for Vibrant Energy and The Wheel of Healing with Ayurveda is owner of the Ayurvedic Path Yoga and Wellness Studio, where she practices as an Ayurvedic lifestyle counselor and as a yoga and meditation teacher. She holds a Vedic Master certificate from the Chopra Center and has worked with Dr. Deepak Chopra teaching yoga and meditation. Find out more about her work at www.michellefondinauthor.com.

 

Excerpted from the book Chakra Healing for Vibrant Energy: Exploring Your 7 Energy Centers with Mindfulness, Yoga, and Ayurveda. Copyright © 2018 by Michelle S. Fondin. Printed with permission from New World Library. www.newworldlibrary.com

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01 Mar

Helping Kids Focus on 6 Life Lessons After The Florida High School Shooting

By Steve Siebold

 

It’s been a long and very upsetting two week since the school shooting in Parkland, Fla. that took 17 innocent lives, 14 of them children. Whether you had friends or family at the school that day, live in the area or were watching the coverage on television from thousands of miles away, you’ve probably been consumed with emotions of grief, anger, confusion and despair.

 

As the nation continues to pay tribute and mourn, and as the kids at Stoneman Douglas High School head back to class today, we can help remember the victims and keep their legacies alive by acknowledging the real-life lessons our kids have learned through the tragedy. To say that any good came from this heinous act would be inappropriate, insensitive and simply untrue. However, with all the doom and gloom and negative news that continues to consume the airwaves and social media, it’s important for kids to see another side of it.

 

There are six lessons in particular that children need to be aware of:

 

The world is both beautiful and brutal 

We’ve seen firsthand how brutal the world can be. But over the last two weeks, we’ve also learned how beautiful the world can be, too. Don’t ever forget that. Unfortunately, it’s in times of tragedy that we often see the beauty of people coming together and supporting one another. Make that your mission all the time, every day you walk this earth. Lend a hand to someone less fortunate. Ask your classmate who is struggling with the math concept if he or she would like your help. Include the kid who is sitting alone at the lunch table with your group. Bad things are inevitable, but we can all do more good to make this world a better place.

 

Live courageously 

Having courage is one of the hallmark characteristics of the most successful people. Every single student who attends Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is courageous. The bravery and courage they showed on the day of the shooting, how they’ve maintained themselves and held it together as well as they have over the last few weeks, and returning to classes this week are all events that have made them extremely courageous. Nobody should ever be put in the situation these poor kids found themselves in on February 14, but the level of courage they all have is something that will remain with them for the rest of their lives.

 

There’s power in public speaking

Many seasoned and polished professionals are terrified to speak in public, yet these kids were thrust into the national spotlight all while dealing with the loss of their friends and teachers and trying to figure out the unthinkable. With the national platform they’ve been given, these kids are quickly becoming the difference makers of tomorrow, sending a powerful message to Washington and the world. They have the courage of a bullfighter and the concentration of a Buddhist Monk. Teaching a child to speak publicly is helping ensure future success, builds confidence and is a way to honor their fallen friends.

 

Always do what’s right

15-year old student Peter Wang died a hero in the school shooting when he helped his classmates and teachers escape. Many things can be taught in life, but integrity is not one of them. Wang died in his JROTC uniform and was posthumously accepted to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Chances are you’re not going to be put in a life or death situation, but regardless, always do what’s right even if it’s not the popular thing to do or the consequences won’t be favorable. Start by identifying one difficult situation you are currently experiencing and make the decision to do the right thing.

 

Life isn’t fair

Our well-meaning adults of influence try to persuade us that life is fair and the good guys always win. A common belief held by the masses is that everything happens for a reason, which comforts them in times of crisis. This belief is an emotional opiate people use to quell their fears and to try and make sense of the random nature of life. These kids have proved that they have the mental toughness, tenacity and perseverance to thrive and survive. Life isn’t fair, but you are stronger than you realize. It’s sad that it takes a tragedy of this magnitude to show you just how tough you are, but the lesson for every child out there is that no matter what life throws your way, you can make it through.

 

Nothing is guaranteed

No matter who you are, where you live, what kind of grades you make or anything else, nothing is ever guaranteed. I’d be lying to you if I guaranteed tomorrow was coming for sure. That’s why it’s imperative that you live everyday as if it were your last. Live the life you want to live and be the person you dream of being. Ask yourself this critical thinking question: if today was my last day on earth, am I satisfied with the life I have lived? If the answer is no, you need to make some changes.

 

Parents should be there for their children during these difficult times. Encourage them to ask questions, express their feelings and do what they need to do to process recent events. After the grieving process, take time to review these important life lessons with your children. It’s a way to help them while also honoring those we lost.

 

Steve Siebold is a psychological performance expert and author of 177 Mental Toughness Secrets of The World Class and Secrets Self-Made Millionaires Teach Their Kidshttp://thesecretsbook.com/

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26 Feb

The Seven Attitudes of Mindfulness: An excerpt from Turbo Metabolism

Guest post by Pankaj Vij, MD, FACP

As the modern Western lifestyle spreads around the globe, so too does metabolic syndrome — a cluster of symptoms that increases the risk of developing heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other conditions. The good news: metabolic syndrome can be tamed by a sensible program of exercise, natural foods, stress management, and quality sleep. In his new book Turbo Metabolism, Dr. Vij distills a mass of medical research into a simple, effective program for vibrant health. Avoiding fads and gimmicks, he provides practical advice, case studies of ordinary people, and brief sections that debunk common medical myths. We hope you’ll enjoy this short excerpt from the book.

 

# # #

 

Managing stress requires being mindful about the here and now. The barrage of stimuli we endure every day from all our electronic gadgets is the antithesis of mindfulness. Technology is constantly distracting us with stimuli from outside our current time and place.

 

The next time you are walking in a park on a spectacular sunny day, note how many people are staring at their electronic devices, sending or receiving messages or checking social media, when they could be enjoying the present time and place. Our modern-day addiction to devices that are supposedly “connecting us” is actually taking us to a place other than the here and now. Why are we so afraid to observe our own thoughts that we constantly need to fill our mind-space with busywork?

 

The Seven Attitudes of Mindfulness

Here are seven attitudes that define or contribute to mindfulness: nonjudgment, patience, beginner’s mind, trust, nonstriving, acceptance, and letting go.

 

Nonjudgment: Take the stance of an impartial witness to your own experience as it happens. This is the ideal “witness state” of a human being. Notice the stream of thoughts and judgments: “This thought is good/bad/neutral.” Become aware without trying to stop the flow. The mind is constantly judging situations and people, but mindfulness means seeing things as they are without adding judgment.

 

Patience: Let things unfold in their own time, and practice patience with yourself. A child may try to help a butterfly emerge by breaking open a chrysalis, but this will likely harm or kill the butterfly. Why rush through some moments in order to get to other, “better” ones? Your life is what you experience in each moment. No particular experience is better or worse than another; only our judgments label them as such. Be completely open to each moment, accepting its fullness, knowing that, like the butterfly, things will emerge in their own time.

 

Beginner’s mind: Too often we let our thinking and our beliefs about what we “know” stop us from seeing things as they really are. Cultivate a willingness to see everything as if for the first time. Be receptive to new possibilities. Don’t get stuck in a rut of your own expertise. Recognize that each moment is unique and contains unique possibilities.

 

Try cultivating a beginner’s mind with someone you know: Ask yourself if you are seeing this person with fresh eyes, as he or she really is. Ask yourself the same question with your problems, with the sky, with your dog, with the clerk in the corner shop.

 

Trust: Develop a basic trust in yourself and your feelings. Trust in your own authority and intuition, even if you make some “mistakes” along the way. Honor your feelings. Take responsibility for yourself and your own well-being.

 

Nonstriving: Practicing mindfulness means seeking no goal other than being who you already are. Pay attention to how you are right now, whatever that is. Just watch. The best way to achieve your own goals is to back off from striving and instead focus on carefully seeing and accepting things as they are, moment by moment. With patience and regular practice, movement toward your goal will happen by itself.

 

Acceptance: See things as they actually are in the present. If you have a headache, accept that you have a headache. We often waste a lot of time and energy denying what is fact. We try to force situations into how we would like them to be. This creates more tension and prevents positive change from occurring. Now is the only time we have for anything. You have to accept yourself as you are before you can really change.

 

Acceptance is not passive; it does not mean you have to like everything about yourself and abandon your principles and values. It does not mean that you should stop trying to break free of your own self-destructive habits or give up your desire to change and grow. Acceptance is a willingness to see things as they are. You are much more likely to know what to do and have an inner conviction to act when you have a clear picture of what is actually happening.

 

Letting go: Letting go is a way of letting things be, of accepting things as they are. Let things go and just watch. If you find it particularly difficult to let go of something because it has such a strong hold on your mind, you can direct your attention to what “holding on” feels like. Holding on is the opposite of letting go. Looking at the ways we hold on will show a lot about its opposite. You already know how to let go. Every night when we allow ourselves to fall asleep, we let go.

 

 

# # #

 

Pankaj Vij, MD, FACP, is the author of Turbo Metabolism. As a doctor of internal medicine, he has helped thousands of patients lose weight, manage chronic health conditions, and improve their physical fitness. Visit him online at http://www.doctorvij.com.

 

 

Excerpted from the book Turbo Metabolism. Copyright ©2018 by Pankaj Vij, MD. Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.

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26 Feb

How to Re-unite Society

By John Jensen, Ph.D.

 

In a New York Times article in 2016, “How Republics End,” Paul Krugman summed up the breakdown of civic virtue in the Roman Empire that led to its downfall, and its parallels with conditions now.  He concluded that he did not see any forces operating today that can prevent such a breakdown for us.  Elites dominate, many are discouraged about change, and positive efforts are fractured.  Many are helpless even to “get through” to people they know well and presume that “they are the problem” and “I just can’t talk them.”  By accepting that as final and unchangeable, however, we face more fragmentation of society. Knowing full well that systemic problems cannot be solved that way, we are driven to find ways to collaborate even distastefully, reluctantly, or ruefully.

But in fact, a vast body of knowledge exists precisely about how to communicate and collaborate with people who either dismiss us or disagree with us.  Taken together the fields of sales, psychotherapy, education, group dynamics, mediation, team building, public speaking, social change, politics, organizational development, and basic research contain an enormous resource of information on how to proceed. Most people’s way to get across an idea to someone who disagrees, instead,  is just to say it either more times or louder or both; that should get through to them! History tells us, however, that under some conditions, change occurs swiftly. Commenting once on his efforts to form the United Farm Workers union, Cesar Chavez said, “Organizing is easy.  Just paint a picture and color it in.”

In that brief statement are the components of today’s need.

First, a picture, a vision, “This is what we’re after.” It should be significant and beautiful enough to inspire people to want to expend energy to make it happen, while the US today labors under conflicting pictures united only by the principle, “Everyone for themselves.” We each try to take care of our own people and interest group, while those with power to do so gather even more resources for themselves and their interests.  A goal that might unite at least a majority, on the other hand, is “the good of the whole.” It is like realizing that decorating our own lifeboat comes after making sure our ship floats.  We need to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time, sustain a range of values simultaneously. Our immediate self-interest is only one value, and our human brain must remind us that many other values are ultimately important to us personally, to all humans, and to the natural world.

Second, “color it in.”  This implies one person speaking the picture to another so it looks beautiful and makes sense.  We can readily imagine Cesar Chavez talking to roomful of people—enthusiastic, practical, detailed, pointed—and establishing the relevance of the picture to their lives.

For ourselves, we need to understand the features and conditions of life today that threaten the very existence of our society, and the most direct means of changing them.  Learning is involved.  We can think of the picture we transmit as having the role toward society like a tree depends on an acorn.  Think of the latter’s miracle. Somehow its molecular structure guides it in how to respond to all the conditions it encounters. Our picture of the society we want needs to have a comparable ability to arrange conditions it faces.

                But absorbing and transmitting the picture and persisting at it long enough to bring about change depends on features that need to occur together: vision (the picture to transmit), learning (absorbing the picture ourselves), action (expressing it to others), and mutual support (hanging together to encourage each other’s efforts).  These are the components of a movement.  With every new person, we help them understand the picture, engage them in learning groups that are inspirational and competence-building, engage them in confident action expressing these ideas and with group campaigns and outreach, and “have their back” so they continually feel supported and energized.

  These conditions are easier to implement than most might think and can lead to rapid growth.  Imagine gaining just one new person per month for your purpose—four weeks of you and your friend in study, learning, and action.  Next month, you two find two more and four do the same, and in the third month, eight. At that slow pace of monthly doubling, however, in a year you become 2,048.  The crux is each one really learning and committing to the picture and the process of sharing it, each one gaining “the acorn plan” within them that enables them to spread their ideas.

How to understand, develop, and apply these ideas is the subject of my recently published book, We Need a Movement: Four Problems to Solve to Restore Rational Government (available at Createspace.com/7601534).  For an overview of its message and purpose, and a free download of the text, see also my website, www.movementwithoutgunfire.com.

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03 Feb

Reducing Your Cancer Risk: A holistic approach

Guest post by Carl O Helvie, R.N., Dr.P.H.

Did you know that the current risk of cancer is 1 of every 2 people in the United States? And did you know that 40% of these are preventable according to research. Thus, it is important to learn how to reduce your cancer risk to avoid being in a cancer or cancer survivor group. .

What areas of life offer an opportunity to reduce your cancer risk. . The author uses a public health framework to answer this question. Assuming health and illnesses (cancer) are processes resulting from the interaction of the human host, a disease or disabling agent, and the environment, disease can occur when the host is weak, the agent is strong, and the environment that brings them together is favorable. Thus, it is important to avoid or reduce environmental carcinogens, to strengthen the host, and to make the environment less favorable for an interaction. Intervening before the host interacts with an agent in a favorable environment is known as prevention and is most cost effective and less traumatic for individuals.

There are four major areas of environmental carcinogens that can be avoided or reduced in intensity. These include electromagnetic frequencies (EMF), ultraviolet rays, carcinogenic chemicals, and carcinogenic metals. The author discusses research related to each area as it relates to cancer and ways to avoid them. There are also over 45 national expert interviews linked to appropriate topics throughout the book. For example, Bisphenol A (BPA) a carcinogenic chemical, is an endocrine disrupter responsible for cancers of the prostate and breast. It is found in plastic and you can avoid it by replacing plastic water bottle in which the plastic leaches into the water during hot weather or transporting with glass containers, replace plastic utensils, and not eating canned foods that havw BPA linings in the can.

There are many things you can do to build your bodies immunity against carcinogens. Some physical interventions include working with nutrition, fluids, exercise, adding supplements and herbs, using immune builders, getting adequate rest and sleep, and avoiding or stopping smoking. For example, research shows that daily exercise reduces your risk of cancer by 50% and proper nutrition reduces it by 35%. Looking at nutrition, the Standard American Diet (SAD) of high animal protein and fat, saturated fats and cholesterol, high sugar and processed foods, and low complex carbohydrates and vegetables with GMO, pesticides, and other pollutants is considered a potential causal factor for cancer and should be replaced with a diet with more fruit and vegetables especially raw ones and lesser amounts of nuts and proteins. Researchers are finding that the vegan diet lends itself to reducing several diseases including cancer. A proper diet should also include organic, non-GMO food without growth hormones, pesticides and other pollutants. Good sources of oil should be used such as cold pressed organic olive oil for low or no temp cooking, and coconut oil for high temp cooking. Anti- inflammatory foods and anti oxidants should also be included. Also avoid farm grown fish and seafood, large fish that eat smaller ones and have higher mercury levels and avoid foods that raise the glycemic level in the body. Some physicians believe eliminating inflammation will reduce most diseases and taking anti-inflammatories canl help overcome them. Antioxidants are important because the cells give off waste including free radicals that lead to inflammation and are precursors to disease. The body produces some antioxidants to balance the free radicals but with radiation, processed foods and other contaminants this process cannot keep up so additional ones in food are necessary. .

A last area of interventions to reduce cancer risk are mental/spiritual ones such as prayer, meditation, affirmations, visualization, faith, helping others, compassion, gratitude and others. These were important in my cancer journey with lung cancer 43 years ago when I was given 6 months to live and was offered chemotherapy and surgery which I refused. Instead I used a holistic natural approach.

Although there is no research to support mental/spiritual interventions killing cancer cells there is currently adequate research to show the supplemental role they play. Overall these include reduce blood pressure, heart and breathing rates, improve memory. Increase DHEA, a hormone that reduces aging and decreases cortisol, the stress hormone, by 23%, increase happiness and self esteem, improve immune functioning. Improve tolerance to aches and pains, reduces stress, improves quality of life and others. Specifically. Cancer patients with a sense of purpose have an increased life spam, and those who are spiritual have less pain and a higher quality of life,. Patients who meditate have 31% lower stress symptoms, and 67% less mood disturbances, and music can lower patient’s anxiety, pain, heart rate, breathing rate and blood pressure. Visualization can improve immune functioning in cancer patients. .More information at: www.HolisticCancerFoundation.com

Carl O Helvie, R.N., Dr.P.H. is a nurse with a doctorate in public health and over 60 years’ experience as a nurse practitioner, educator, author and researcher. He had published 9 books and chapters in 4 additional ones and over 100 international research papers and articles. He has been listed in most national references and Wikipedia. At age 85 he continues hosting the Holistic Health Radio Show, and serving as President of the Carl O Helvie Holistic Cancer Foundation.

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04 Jan

Physical Activities Can Power Kids’ Brains

Guest post by Kilian Saekel

Getting kids off the couch and away from televisions and other electronic devices that have them sitting around for hours at time is important for health reasons, but it has another surprising impact. A new study found that kids who fit in extra physical activities in their day paid more attention in school and performed better in subjects such as reading and math. Sometimes getting kids interested in an activity that causes them to break a sweat is like pulling teeth, but taking things they love or that interest them and putting a fun physical twist on them can get them to rethink their personal ban on physical activities.

 

Kilian Saekel, CEO of A-Champs, has a few tips for parents on fun physical activities that can be done in the living room that kids will want to participate in and that can boost their brain power:

 

Play old school games- Play classic games such as “Red Light, Green Light”, “Mother, May I”, “Simon Says” or any other game that gets kids moving around. You can also put

  • a twist on classic board games by creating your own rules that involve physical activities. Such as having kids do ten jumping jacks when they buy a property in Monopoly or running in place for a minute if they get sent home in Sorry.
  • Scavenge the room– Hide objects around the house and have kids search for the item they think you are describing. Require kids to perform a certain physical activity (jumping jacks, sit ups, push-ups, etc.) before they are allowed to submit the item that they brought back to you. If they bring back the wrong item, they have to do twice the number of jumping jacks that are required before returning to the hunt! You can also set up a scavenger hunt where they search for animal figurines and have to act like the animal being called out such as hopping like a frog, running like a cheetah or flapping their arms like a bird.
  • Set up camp– Have kids strap on backpacks and pack gear that they would need if they were going on a hiking/camping trip. Take them on a walking trip around the house and even pretend the stairs are a mountain they have to climb. When you feel like you explored enough, have kids make a tent out of a sheet in the living room. You can also set up a makeshift campfire with battery powered candles or equip kids with flashlights and take turns telling scary stories. Once you’re done have kids pack up the gear again and make their way back home.
  • Don’t touch the lava- Spread pillows or couch cushions on the floor and have kids hop from cushion to cushion without touching the ground. If they do touch the lava, or ground, have them do 5 jumping jacks, sit ups and push-ups before they restart the course. You can make this game tougher for older kids by playing with smaller pillows or taping paper circles to the floor.
  • Take the games indoors– Set up different sports stations around the living room. Create a basketball hoop using a trashcan, a volleyball net using string and two chairs and use old boxes for soccer goals. Have kids create new sports games or put twists on the old ones such as mixing soccer rules with the volleyball playing style where players must try to keep the ball in the air and make it in their goal before the other players try to take the ball away or block it from the goal.
  • Mix in technology- Kids love anything that has a tech component. Find games, apps or videos that get kids up and moving instead of sitting on the couch like a zombie. NFL Play 60 and ROXs are both great options to get kids interested in physical activities along with mixing in technology. If your child is adamant about watching a show or movie pick a word or phrase that you know is used often and set a rule that they have to do a certain action like jump up and down or do high knees every time it is said.

 

Kilian Saekel, Co-Founder & CEO of A-Champs

Kilian is a German born entrepreneur in the field of product development and manufacturing.

In 2010 Kilian’s wife successfully battled cancer. It was then when he started to appreciate the need to live an active and healthy lifestyle. In 2015, he founded “A-Champs” with the goal to inspire children to engage in physical activity and to help them set the foundations for living active and healthy lives. The A-Champs solution is an interactive gaming system that uses technology, video gaming play patterns and kids’ imaginations for real-world PLAY experiences that are screen-less.

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