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02 Dec

DOGEN: THE LOST GENIUS OF ZEN

Guest post by Brad Warner, author of IT CAME FROM BEYOND ZEN!

 

I first heard of Dogen when I was about 19 or 20 years old. I am 53 now. So, I’ve been acquainted with Dogen for most of my life. Dogen was a Japanese Buddhist monk and writer who lived around 800 years ago, from the year 1200 to 1254. He was barely older than I am now when he died.

 

When I first heard of Dogen, I assumed I was a latecomer. I figured that the people of Japan had read and studied Dogen’s philosophy for the past 800 years. I assumed that Dogen’s ideas were part of Japan’s national philosophical identity.

 

Nope. For about 700 years, Dogen’s writings were barely known even in Japan. A few very scholarly monks and historians read and studied his writings. But most people had no idea what he wrote. Oh, they knew he wrote stuff. It’s just that very few people had read any of it.

 

However, Dogen also started a temple and monks from that temple started other temples. After a while, there were a lot of temples associated with Dogen. These temples became very popular and influential.

 

Dogen also taught a style of meditation called “just sitting” or shikantza in Japanese.

 

The “just” in “just sitting” isn’t like the “just” in “just sitting around.” The Chinese character used to represent the word I’m translating as “just” also means “to hit,” like “to hit a nail right at the center of its head.” So, when Dogen said “just sitting” he meant doing nothing else when sitting meditation except sitting. You weren’t supposed to meditate on anything. You weren’t supposed to try to gain anything through your meditation. You weren’t trying to become calm, or centered, or mindful. You were supposed to completely devote yourself to the simple act of sitting, completely absorb yourself in doing nothing at all but sitting.

 

And a lot of people in Japan took his advice and sat for the sake of sitting alone. It wasn’t exactly a popular activity. But enough people did it that we can say that Dogen’s style of practice became an important aspect of Japanese culture.

 

Still, even though some of them sat, very few people in Japan read what Dogen wrote. And no one outside of Japan had any idea he even existed.

 

In 1633, about 400 years after Dogen died, Japan closed its borders to outsiders. Very few people could come in or out of Japan. The nation deliberately isolated itself from the rest of the world. In 1865, the American Commodore Perry forced Japan to open itself to international trade. This began what is called the Meiji Restoration. The film The Last Samurai, starring Tom Cruise, is about this time. It’s a fairly accurate movie, but Tom Cruise was not actually there.

 

Japan suddenly realized it was very much behind the rest of the world. Those Americans had weapons that were way beyond anything most Japanese people had ever seen. They realized that, in this age of colonization, they were incredibly vulnerable to being taken over by a more advanced foreign power. They knew that they needed to modernize fast.

 

This also led Japanese people to try to find Japanese things that were as good as similar things in Europe and America, so that they could prove that Japan was worthy to stand with the mighty powers of Europe and the Americas.  So, they started to look more closely at their own art and literature, as well as at Japanese philosophy and religion. There was a nationwide push to discover the best that Japan had to offer to the outside world.

 

In 1925 a scholar named Tetsuro Watsuji published a book called Shamon Dogen (the Monk Dogen). In this book, he presented Dogen as one of Japan’s most important philosophers. This led to a widespread rediscovery of Dogen’s work in Japan. For the first time in 700 years earlier, ordinary Japanese people started to read Dogen’s writings. And for the first time ever, they began presenting Dogen to the rest of the world.

 

What they discovered in Dogen’s writings surprised many people. Here are a couple of examples of interesting ideas from Dogen’s writings.

 

 

Dogen did not believe in miracles, but he did not deny them either.

 

Many religions are based on the idea that miracles can sometimes occur. For example, Jesus changed water into wine, walked on water, and was raised from the dead. Christians believe these miracles are evidence that Jesus was divine. Because Jesus was divine, they say, his words must be true.

 

You might have heard that Buddha was originally not considered to be a prophet or a god or any kind of divine being. That’s true. But, as Buddha’s legend grew and his teachings were translated into new languages and introduced to new cultures, many Buddhists came to believe Buddha performed miracles.

 

Dogen believed that all things in the universe are subject to the law of cause and effect. So, even if something that seems like a miracle occurred, Dogen believed it was the result of some cause. He did not believe in supernatural forces that can make things happen without any cause.

 

However, when he talked to his students about this, he did not deny the supposed miracles of the Buddha. Instead, he said these were “small stuff miracles.” The bigger miracle is that there is a universe in which small miracles can occur. The existence of the universe itself is the great miracle. All other miracles are insignificant by comparison.

 

In my new book It Came from Beyond Zen, I try to express what Dogen says about Buddhist miracles by describing Christian miracles the way Dogen talks about Buddhist miracles. I write, “Jesus fed a multitude with two fishes and five loaves of bread, he raised Lazarus from the dead, and was himself raised from the dead three days after his crucifixion. These are indeed great accomplishments. But they are examples of small-stuff miracles, not the big-time miracle. It is only because of the big-time miracle that such small-stuff miracles as the ones Jesus performed exist. Without the big-time miracle, even the most spectacular of small-stuff miracles could not occur. Jesus worked great wonders. But the greater wonder is that there is a world in which Jesus could have been born, that there is a universe in which that world exists, that you and I are alive to hear about his miracles. It is only the big-time miracle of existence itself that allows smaller miracles to occur.”

 

Dogen believed compassion is intuitive.

 

Dogen said that compassionate action is like someone reaching back for a pillow in the night.

 

It’s a very strange expression. Most of us think of compassion as a deliberate. We see a situation. We think about what is the compassionate thing to do about that situation. Then we do that thing.

 

To Dogen, compassion was not like that. Dogen thought that compassion was spontaneous. We don’t need to think about what to do. We follow our intuition and automatically do what is necessary.

 

Dogen also warned us against judging what others do as “not compassionate.”

 

Dogen said, “There’s a difference between nighttime as conceived of by a person during the day and the reality of the darkness on an actual night. You should also look into times that aren’t quite day but aren’t quite night, either.”

 

Day means times when it’s easy to see what the compassionate thing to do is. Like when you see a turtle on its back. The compassionate thing to do is turn it over. Easy.

 

Night in this case would mean times when you have no idea what the best thing to do is. Sometimes there is no clear-cut, easily identifiable way to be compassionate.

 

Then there are times that are neither day nor night. That means times when you might not know which among several options is really the compassionate one.

 

When Dogen says “nighttime as conceived by a person during the day,” I believe he ’s talking about the kinds of things where folks think they can see what somebody else ought to have done in a certain situation.

 

Sometimes we look at history and we think, “If I was alive at that time, I would have been better than those people!” Or we look at people in faraway countries and think, “If I was over there, I would do better things than those people!”

 

It’s easy for those of us in the “daylight” of a world at peace (at least our corner of it) to speculate about what those in the dark night of war ought to have done or what we would have done if we were there. But we weren’t there. So we have no idea what we would have done. In fact, our assumption that we know what we’d do in such a situation is the height of ignorance and arrogance.

 

It’s totally pointless to claim moral superiority in these kinds of speculative matters. It’s better to listen to what people who were actually in those situations have to say about it. Sometimes you can learn a lot by listening, even if you don’t always believe everything you’re hearing.

 

There is a big difference between real night and night as imagined by someone during the day.

 

In the end, we are not other people. We can only try to listen to our own intuition in the real situations that we encounter for ourselves. If we meditate every day, we will be able to listen to our own intuition more clearly. Then we can act with genuine compassion. And, when we do that, compassionate action is spontaneous like when you reach for a pillow in the night.

 

# # #

 

About the author
Brad Warner
is the author of It Came from Beyond Zen! and numerous other titles including Don’t Be a Jerk, Sit Down & Shut Up, and Hardcore Zen. A Soto Zen priest, he is a punk bassist, filmmaker, Japanese-monster-movie marketer, and popular blogger based in Los Angeles. Visit him online at www.hardcorezen.info.

 

Based on the book It Came from Beyond Zen! Copyright ©2017 by Brad Warner.  Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.

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02 Dec

Love and Health

An excerpt from The Forgotten Art of Love

Guest post by Armin A. Zadeh, MD, PhD

Who better than a cardiologist to unpack the many dimensions of love, the emotion that has long been depicted as emanating from the heart?

 

A comprehensive, multifaceted exploration into the nature of love is precisely what Dr. Armin A. Zadeh, who is both a cardiologist and a professor at Johns Hopkins University, offers in his new book entitled The Forgotten Art of Love: What Love Means and Why It Matters.  We hope you’ll enjoy this short excerpt from the book.

 

# # #

 

Love not only helps us live more happily but also helps us live longer. Happy marriages are associated with better health, while tension in relationships increases stress and the risk of illness. An analysis of studies involving hundreds of thousands of people suggests that maintaining good social relationships is associated with lower mortality. Conversely, social isolation ranks among the most significant physical and lifestyle risk factors for mortality, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and cigarette smoking.

 

This association does not prove causality: we can’t tell whether the boost to longevity comes from the relationship itself or from other factors associated with a relationship. For example, it is conceivable that being married contributes to better health by encouraging better diet or hygiene. It is also possible that healthier people or those with fewer unhealthy habits, such as drug or alcohol abuse, may be more likely to get married in the first place, thus skewing the analysis. Yet studies that controlled for these factors have shown similar results for lower mortality in happily married people.

 

On the other hand, unhappiness is associated with many types of organ dysfunction and disease. Even brief angry outbursts have now been linked to an increased risk of heart attacks. One study of immunity among socially isolated people showed that they had poorer immune function and greater stress levels than those with many social contacts.

 

In the extreme case, stress can lead to health crises. We have recently learned that acute emotional stress can lead to actual heart failure — a serious illness known as broken heart syndrome, which is now regularly identified in medical centers around the world. While the exact mechanisms leading to weakening of the heart muscle remain unclear, we know that high levels of certain stress hormones, which are released in response to a devastating breakup or personal loss, or extreme fear or anxiety, may trigger the syndrome. Fortunately, many patients recover after a few weeks.

 

A large body of evidence suggests that love has a direct effect on a vast array of biological functions. A loving relationship fosters the release of the hormone oxytocin, the “love hormone.” Oxytocin has a variety of purposes and is probably best known for its release after childbirth to foster bonding between mother and baby. Oxytocin is also implicated in attachment during relationships and many other human interactions. It has antidepressive effects that are being investigated for clinical use. Of particular interest is the discovery that oxytocin may decrease the levels of the hormone cortisol. Changes in cortisol levels are associated with sleep deprivation and physical and emotional stress, and cortisol has a well-known weakening effect on our immune system. It may, therefore, not be surprising that happy relationships are associated with lower rates of sickness.

 

Good emotional health leads to good physical health. And just as good physical health requires us to exercise, acquiring good emotional health also requires training. Emotional health “workouts” may include regular, conscious efforts to focus on love and relationships while deemphasizing material or career goals. As with physical exercise, it may take months or years of devoted practice to get into good emotional shape. This is because less healthy thinking patterns acquired early in life tend to be reinforced over years or even decades, making them difficult to reverse.

 

At any given moment we have the choice of allowing our thoughts and actions to be moved by impulses such as anger, frustration, jealousy, and boredom, or overcoming these impulses and acting out of love. If we choose love, we immediately feel a sensation of calm and peace, and things seem different. It works instantly and predictably. It is ironic that our society yearns for instant gratification and pursues various strategies for achieving instant wealth and fame — which essentially never work — while the immediate reward of a happy mind is instantly available to everybody but often not recognized.

 

Life is about balance. While we cannot control our genes or all the things that happen to us, we can help ourselves a lot by nurturing both our mind and our body and by placing a stronger emphasis on love. This undertaking requires focus and devotion, but the results are impressive. Devoting time to the art of love is a smart investment. Not only do we directly foster our own happiness, but we also support our health and chances of a longer, better life.

 

# # #

 

Armin A. Zadeh, MD, PhD, is the author of The Forgotten Art of Love. He is a professor at Johns Hopkins University with doctoral degrees in medicine and philosophy as well as a master’s degree in public health. As a cardiologist and a scientist, Dr. Zadeh knows, from first-hand experience, about the close relationship between heart disease and the state of the mind. Visit him online at www.theforgottenartoflove.com.

 

Excerpted from the book The Forgotten Art of Love: What Love Means and Why It Matters. Copyright ©2017 by Armin A. Zadeh. Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.

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28 Nov

These Are The 8 Friends You Need To Be Happy In Life

View the book on Amazon here!

View Eric’s new book on Amazon here!

Guest post by Eric Barker.

Do your friends sometimes disappoint you? Ever feel like there is something missing in your relationships?  You’re not alone.

Tom Rath and the Gallup organization discovered something interesting: the vast majority of the time, no one pal offers you everything you need from your relationships.

Some of your friends are great listeners… but they’re not always there when you need them. Others are intensely loyal… but just not that great at helping you out of a jam. And so on.

We get different things from different friends. And sometimes even with a sizable group you’re still not getting all the things you want in order to feel truly supported in life. Kinda like how to be healthy you need the four different food groups — you can’t just eat cookies for every meal.

“Friendship” is a pretty vague word. You generally don’t even know everything you want from your relationships to feel whole — you just know something’s missing. There’s a gap.

So Rath and Gallup got to work. They surveyed over a thousand people to find out what the types of “vital friends” were — someone who if they vanished, your life satisfaction would noticeably decrease.

What did these types of friends offer? How do they round out your life? What are those things we all want from a group of friends to feel truly fulfilled?

Rath breaks down the results of their research in Vital Friends: The People You Can’t Afford to Live Without.

It turns out there are 8 types of “vital friends.” Many of us don’t have all of them in our squad, and that’s why we often feel disappointed or like we’re not getting everything we need. (You have to collect all the different Pokemon to win at the game called life.)

So let’s break down the 8 and get the basics on what they are, learn where you might meet the ones that are missing, and find out how to strengthen your relationships with the ones you already have. We’ll also look at what you should do to be better at the role which you play in the lives of others.

Okay, time to get friendly…

1) The Builder

Just because you’re not in Little League anymore doesn’t mean you don’t need a coach. Someone who motivates you and encourages you to take it to the next level. That supportive friend who believes in your potential and won’t let you rest on your laurels.

From Vital Friends: The People You Can’t Afford to Live Without:

Builders are great motivators, always pushing you toward the finish line. They continually invest in your development and genuinely want you to succeed — even if it means they have to go out on a limb for you. Builders are generous with their time as they help you see your strengths and use them productively. When you want to think about how you can do more of what you already do well, talk to a Builder. Much like the best coaches and managers, these are the friends who lead you to achieve more each day.
Lacking a Builder in your life? We all need that person who nudges you to be all that you can be. Start asking more people for advice, then vet based on who gives solid answers and supports you. Who checks in with you a week later to see how things are progressing? That’s your new Builder.

Want to make the Builder you have better? Tell them your goals and what you’re struggling with. Tell them you appreciate their support… and give them permission to nag you if you slack.

What if you’re a Builder? How can you be more helpful to your friends? Pay attention to what they’re up to and offer help. Check in with them if goals they said were important do a vanishing act. Some people need a supportive voice in order to follow through.

My friend Jodie is a Builder par excellence. I tend to only do things that interest or excite me. So my life can get a little unbalanced. (That is a tsunami-sized understatement, by the way.) When I neglect things that, oh, “keep me breathing” or “make life worth living,” Jodie offers reminders, support… and then nags me relentlessly. So I always do what she says…

Eventually.

(To learn more about the science of a successful life, check out my new book here.)

Builders motivate you and keep you going. Who sings your praises to others?

2) The Champion

We all need a friend who isn’t afraid to break out the pom-poms and play cheerleader. Somebody who roots for you and describes you to others in a way that makes you blush.

From Vital Friends: The People You Can’t Afford to Live Without:

Champions stand up for you and what you believe in. They are the friends who sing your praises. Every day, this makes a difference in your life. Not only do they praise you in your presence, a Champion also “has your back” — and will stand up for you when you’re not around. They accept you for the person you are, even in the face of resistance. Champions are loyal friends with whom you can share things in confidence. They have a low tolerance for dishonesty. You can count on them to accept what you say, without judging, even when others do not. Champions are your best advocates. When you succeed, they are proud of you, and they share it with others. Champions thrive on your accomplishments and happiness.
Need a Champion in your life? Look for the people who are always praising others. They’re usually very humble and kind. So say hi.

Want to help your Champion help you? Regularly keep them abreast of what you’ve been doing and what your goals are. And don’t forget to thank them when their help pays off. Champions live for that.

If you’re a Champion, how can you improve? Ask your friends what they’ve been up to and how you can help. Think about different ways you can promote them. Maybe you’ve spread the word about their great work at the office — but have you ever complimented them in front of their spouse?

Luckily, I have Andy. Andy says things about me to other people that would make me want to meet me if I didn’t already know myself. And he does this for all his friends. I can tell you that they are all very lucky people. But Andy would just tell you how awesome they are.

(To learn the 3 secrets from neuroscience that will make you emotionally intelligent, click here.)

So maybe you have someone swinging pom-poms for you. But do you have that person to conspire with on that passion project?

3) The Collaborator

Who loves that same strange thing that you love? Who is that friend that the moment you see each other you roll up your sleeves and get to work on the next big caper?

From Vital Friends: The People You Can’t Afford to Live Without:

A Collaborator is a friend with similar interests — the basis for many great friendships. You might share a passion for sports, hobbies, religion, work, politics, food, music, movies, or books. In many cases, you belong to the same groups or share affiliations. When you talk with a Collaborator, you’re on familiar ground, and this can serve as the foundation for a lasting relationship. Indeed, in those conversations, you often find that you have similar ambitions in work and life.
How do you find yourself a Collaborator? Let the people around you know more about your interests and see who else happens to be into cryptozoology or 19th century pre-existentialism. Attend events where fellow enthusiasts gather.

What’s a good way to encourage your current Collaborator? Send them articles about your mutual interest. Meet for coffee to discuss.

And what should you do to be a better Collaborator if you are one? Your mission, should you decide to accept it… Schedule a regular time to meet and work on your shared plan for Global Domination.

My buddy Mike is a grandmaster of all things visual. Mike and I don’t do stuff together — we make stuff together. When I said I wanted to send my publisher some ideas for my book’s cover, Mike fired up Photoshop. When I needed an author photo for said book, Mike’s the one who took it. And per my above recommendation, I really should set a regular time to meet with him…

(To learn the seven-step morning ritual that will make you happy all day, click here.)

You have the Bonnie to your Clyde. Do you have the person you can call late at night when the worries get serious and you’re having a dark teatime of the soul?

4) The Companion

Simply put: a best friend. They won’t just help you move; they’ll help you move bodies. The person who will still be there when everyone else has very wisely run for cover.

From Vital Friends: The People You Can’t Afford to Live Without:

A Companion is always there for you, whatever the circumstances. You share a bond that is virtually unbreakable. When something big happens in your life — good or bad — this is one of the first people you call. At times, a true Companion will even sense where you are headed — your thoughts, feelings, and actions — before you know it yourself. Companions take pride in your relationship, and they will sacrifice for your benefit. They are the friends for whom you might literally put your life on the line. If you are searching for a friendship that can last a lifetime, look no further than a Companion.
How do you find a Companion? Think about which of your current friends you might want to have a deeper relationship with. Spend more time with them. Open up and be vulnerable.

How do you strengthen your relationship with a current Companion? Cut the small talk. Discuss the deep stuff in your life: your fears, your dreams, your future.

How can you be a better Companion? Create a safe place for your friend to discuss anything. And when times get tough, reach out. Don’t wait for them to ask for help.

Jason is my best friend. If there is anything in this life I should be envied for, it is that. He is the person who frequently says things like, “Eric, that thing you are about to do is insane, has little chance of success, and is illegal in most NATO countries. I know you’re going to do it anyway. If it works out, I will be thrilled for you. If it crashes and burns, call me no matter how late. I’m here for you.” And often I call. And he always picks up.

(To learn the 4 rituals from neuroscience that will make you happy, click here.)

Best friend acquired. But who is introducing you to new friends?

5) The Connector

No matter what the issue, they know somebody who can help. They make friends more often than most people make excuses. Even if they were locked in solitary confinement with no one to talk to, they’d end up best pals with the prison guard.

From Vital Friends: The People You Can’t Afford to Live Without:

A Connector is a bridge builder who helps you get what you want. Connectors get to know you — and then introduce you to others. These are the people you socialize with regularly. Friends who play the role of a Connector are always inviting you to lunch, dinner, drinks, and other gatherings where you can meet new people. This extends your network dramatically and gives you access to newfound resources. When you need something — a job, a doctor, a friend, or a date — a Connector points you in the right direction. They seem to “know everyone.”
What’s it take to add a great Connector to your life? Look for the people who know everybody in a given situation. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself — these folks obviously like to meet new people.

How do you best leverage your Connector? This one’s easy: just ask them for introductions.

If you’re a Connector, how can you better help your friends? Be proactive. Don’t wait for them to ask for help. Think about who might be good for them to know and offer an introduction. Or just throw a party and get everybody talking to each other.

My buddy Gautam knows more fascinating people than I know people. Not only is he the subject of one of the stories in my book, he also introduced me to two other people whose stories I told in my book. While I was typing this, Gautam has made 6 new friends.

(To learn how to make friends as an adult, click here.)

So you know somebody who always knows somebody. But have you got a friend who just makes you feel great?

6) The Energizer

That fun friend. The person you’re always laughing around. The one who always knows the great place to go or the awesome thing to do.

From Vital Friends: The People You Can’t Afford to Live Without:

Energizers are your “fun friends” who always give you a boost. You have more positive moments when you are with these friends. Energizers are quick to pick you up when you’re down — and can make a good day great. They are always saying and doing things that make you feel better. Energizers have a remarkable ability to figure out what gets you going. When you are around these friends, you smile a lot more. You are more likely to laugh in the presence of an Energizer.
How can you find your own shiny, new Energizer? Look for the person who is the life of the party in any situation. Bask in their neon glow and introduce yourself.

Want to further energize your current Energizer? Let them know how much you appreciate their enthusiasm. Reciprocate the positivity.

Want to be a better Energizer? Just like with Connectors, be proactive. Look for those who are feeling down and work your magic.

My friend… Oh, crap. I don’t think I have an energizer. Well, that explains a lot. Better introduce myself to the life of the party, STAT…

(To learn an FBI behavior expert’s tips for getting people to like you, click here.)

So you have a friend who always keeps you smiling. But who is always introducing you to new ideas?

7) The Mind Opener

They send you interesting articles. They get you to question your assumptions. Talking to them makes your brain do things straight out of the dream sequences from “Inception.”

From Vital Friends: The People You Can’t Afford to Live Without:

Mind Openers are the friends who expand your horizons and encourage you to embrace new ideas, opportunities, cultures, and people. They challenge you to think in innovative ways and help you create positive change. Mind Openers know how to ask good questions, and this makes you more receptive to ideas. When you are around a Mind Opener, you are unguarded and express opinions aloud, especially controversial ones that you might not be comfortable sharing with other friends. These friends broaden your perspective on life and make you a better person.
How do you find someone who will open your mind? Share your ideas with more people. See who regularly offers new perspectives and invite them to crowbar your cranium.

What’s the best way to help your Mind Opener work on your noggin? Encourage them to play devil’s advocate with your ideas — and never shoot down their responses. Noodle on their suggestions for a while to fully explore them and to show respect.

What if you’re the Opener of Minds? Listen — and offer suggestions. Send friends ideas you have and stuff they should check out related to their interests.

My friend Nick never met an idea he couldn’t challenge. We go on absurdly long walks and he responds to everything I say with, “But what if…?” He always makes me think really hard.

I like him anyway.

(To learn more about how to be someone people love to talk to, click here.)

So you have someone to challenge you. But who helps you plan how to get to that next stage in life?

8) The Navigator

Sometimes it feels like you’re in Hell, Dante — and you are gonna need a Virgil. Sometimes they’re a mentor, sometimes they’re a sounding board, but they’re always your GPS system for when you don’t know which exit to take on the highway of life.

From Vital Friends: The People You Can’t Afford to Live Without:

Navigators are the friends who give you advice and keep you headed in the right direction. You go to them when you need guidance, and they talk through the pros and cons with you until you find an answer. In a difficult situation, you need a Navigator by your side. They help you see a positive future while keeping things grounded in reality. Any time you’re at a crossroads and need help making a decision, you can look to a Navigator. They help you know who you are — and who you are not. They are the ideal friends to share your goals and dreams with; when you do, you will continue to learn and grow.
Need to create a new Navigator in your life? Ask people around you about themselves. Find out more about what they’ve done and what challenges they’ve overcome. You’d be surprised how many have been in your shoes — or had an analogous experience that might offer insight.

Want your current Navigator to have improved GPS? Tell them when you’re facing big decisions. Share your goals and dreams. Ask them how they would go about getting from here to there.

As a Navigator, how can you help guide your pals? Again, be proactive. Offer help and advice where they’re struggling with an area you have expertise in.

This year would have been inconceivably harder without my friend Ryan Holiday. He’s offered guidance on releasing a book, what new projects to explore, and how to handle the big issues in life in a way that would make the ancient Stoics proud. He’s the only person I know who goes through more books than I do and, unlike me, his lips don’t move when he’s reading them.

(To learn the lazy way to an awesome life, click here.)

Okay, that’s a lot of different friends. Let’s round it all up…

Sum Up

These are the 8 friends you need to be happy in life:

  • The Builder: If you were a sports team, they’d be the “Coach.”
  • The Champion: Pom-poms not included.
  • The Collaborator: The unindicted co-conspirator.
  • The Companion: They’ll be at the police station at 3AM with bail money. Again.
  • The Connector: This is the friend you and I probably have in common.
  • The Energizer: (I’m currently taking applications.)
  • The Mind Opener: If they sent you this blog post, I’m flattered.
  • The Navigator: Like a high school guidance counselor, except useful.

Some of your friends may play multiple roles. And you might play different roles to different friends of yours. That’s fine.

To most of my friends, I’m a Mind Opener. But to others I’m a Collaborator or a Companion.(After 4 espressos I might be an Energizer.) Figure out what you are to your friends. And then make yourself a better one.

Find the roles that are missing in your group of friends and work on strengthening the relationships with the ones you have. It’s like a heist movie where you need a safecracker, a wheelman, a computer expert and the comic relief in order to pull off the job.

Life is hard enough. You’re gonna need love and support to make it through.

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28 Nov

Taking Care of Busyness

85073An excerpt from How to Survive Your Childhood Now That You’re an Adult by Ira Israel

 

Every adult wants to live a version of what he or she imagines is “the good life.” Yet, many struggle with a default voice in their heads that tells them that whatever they do will never be good enough and that they will only be happy when they get a new job, relationship, physical appearance, etc.

 

In How to Survive Your Childhood Now That You’re an Adult: A Path to Authenticity and Awakening, author and psychotherapist Ira Israel explains that the origin of this voice of dissatisfaction is the wounded child within who is subconsciously and retroactively seeking the acceptance, approval, and love of primary caregivers who either withheld love, loved us conditionally, or treated us in ways we did not understand.

 

We hope you’ll enjoy this short excerpt from the book

 

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We need to question what we were taught would make us happy: did we learn from the narratives of films, songs, television, and literature that having passionate love affairs would make us happy? Were we taught that having one partner for life would make us happy? Did we learn that having millions of dollars in our bank accounts would make us happy? Did we learn that driving sports cars or boats or having expensive accoutrements would bring happiness? Because it turns out the one thing that correlates with happiness is the quality of our intimate relationships, how much we can depend on other people, and how securely we are able to connect with other people. Isn’t it ironic that the supposed prizes of our brand of capitalism pull us apart and push us into big houses with fences, exclusive first-class lounges, country clubs, private boxes at sporting events and concerts, and so on? And maybe once people taste exclusivity they become unwilling to share it, they want to keep it exclusive so that they can believe they worked hard to earn it, or that God loves them, or some other myth or fictional subconscious narrative? No sane person wants “Worked Really Hard” on his or her tombstone, yet every day I hear people respond to the question “How are you?” with: “Crazybusy!” which obviously makes no sense since crazybusy describes what one is doing, not how one is doing.

 

I am not advocating slackerism; I am advocating balance. And being truthful about our life situations. I am advocating that each of us derives our personal identity from who we are, not what we own, where we vacation, or what we do to earn money. If we believe Malcolm Gladwell, then we agree that Steve Jobs and Bill Gates would not have become Steve Jobs or Bill Gates had either of them not been born in 1955, hit high school the same year that mainframe computers entered high schools, and had ten thousand leisure hours to obsessively tinker with hardware systems and design software for those
devices.

 

Maybe it is time to unlearn “living to work” and relearn “working to live,” and to do so before our first, or next, heart attack or the traumatic sudden death of a friend or loved one with whom we regret not spending more time, or we develop an addiction, affliction, or dis-ease that is a signpost screaming, “I am not a dancing bear! I do not want to be a cog in the wheel of capitalism! I am sick and tired of working hard so that other people can get richer! I am fed up with people exploiting my limited time on planet Earth!”

 

The average retiree in America watches television forty-five hours a week. Are we working harder and harder just so we can spend the last twenty years of our lives on a sofa? I think we need a new metric for mental health, happiness, and success. And it could be different for every person. But if we buy into the current version of the supposed American dream, then we are signing up to live financially beyond our means, to be on hamster wheels of consumption, to constantly work until we drop dead or retire or are put out to pasture to make room for younger, hungrier workers.

 

If I am right and the current barometer of mental well-being relates to showing up for our jobs, to being productive members of society in order to earn money to pay our credit card debts, mortgages, and student loans, then instead of over 20 million Americans taking antidepressants every day, maybe it is time to reframe the American dream; build vibrant, loving, noncompetitive communities; take vacations; and allow time for people to bond with and attach to their families and friends. Maybe it is also time to stop blaming people and labeling people as lazy if they are not rich, stop ostracizing people who do not play the game of consumerism, and allow people to decide for themselves who they want to be and to find for themselves the things that will keep them at the higher ends of their happiness spectrums.

 

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3034Ira Israel is the author of How to Survive Your Childhood Now that You’re an Adult. A licensed marriage and family therapist and professional clinical counselor, Ira graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and holds advanced degrees in psychology, philosophy, and religious studies. He lives in Santa Monica, California, and you can visit him online at www.iraisrael.com.

 

Excerpted from the book How to Survive Your Childhood Now that You’re an Adult: A Path to Authenticity and Awakening. Copyright ©2017 by Ira Israel. Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.

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16 Nov

How Busy Lifestyles, Environment Toxins and Stress Affect Our Health at the Cellular Lev

Is Your Modern Lifestyle Depleting Your Vital Force?
Five Ways to Restore Your Mitochondria and Safeguard Your Health

What do busy lifestyles, environmental toxins, bad habits, and stress have in common? They’re all wreaking havoc on your body and depleting your Vital Force. But integrative cardiologist Stephen Sinatra, MD, FACC, and spiritual counselor Tommy Rosa say you can restore the mitochondria that supports Vital Force and secure your health. Here, they show you how.

          New York, NY (October 2017)—You’re caught in a relentless cycle of depletion. Between the daily challenges of work, family, and taking care of yourself, you feel your energy and stamina dwindling, but you don’t know how to stop it. Even worse, after years of frantically rushing from one place to the next and meeting deadlines, stopping long enough to scarf down some questionable fast food, and collapsing into bed each night, your hectic lifestyle feels normal. You worry: If I keep up this pace, I’ll surely get sick…really sick.

The worst part is, you’re right. Struggling through life, exhausted and depleted, is a recipe for certain illness. But Dr. Stephen Sinatra and spiritual counselor Tommy Rosa say there is a way to bring your body and spirit back into balance: Nurture your Vital Force.

“We are all born with an inner core energy called Vital Force that, when strong, leads to healing, good health, and overall well-being,” says Dr. Sinatra, coauthor of Health Revelations from Heaven: 8 Divine Teachings from a Near-Death Experience (Rodale Books, 2017, ISBN: 978-1-635-65066-2, $14.99). “But if you don’t nurture this energy, it can’t sustain you. Many aspects of modern life destroy or weaken your Vital Force, and that’s when you get sick.”

What exactly is Vital Force? Well, it’s called chi by the Chinese, ki by the Japanese, prana by Hindus, and breath of God by Hebrews and Christians. But when scientific types talk about Vital Force, they tend to focus on the mitochondria that produce it, explains Dr. Sinatra. Mitochondria are tiny cucumber-shaped power plants in cells that produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is the energy of life. Our body must make ATP continuously or else we perish. But we store enough for only 8-10 heart beats.

Thousands of studies have now been published on the link between abnormal mitochondrial dynamics and their involvement in diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, diabetes, obesity, autoimmune conditions, cancer, heart disease, headaches, chronic fatigue syndrome, and even aging itself. More than 50 million people in the United States are said to be affected by conditions involved in mitochondria dysfunction.

Here’s where things get interesting: Dr. Sinatra’s coauthor, Mr. Rosa, learned about Vital Force during a life-altering near-death experience (NDE) following a terrible accident. During his stay in Heaven, eight revelations of good health were imprinted onto his psyche. These revelations dovetailed with the knowledge that Dr. Sinatra had already gained through his studies of scientifically and medically validated clinical research, as well as his own experiences as a cardiologist. Upon meeting Mr. Rosa at a lecture in 2010, the two friends began working together to uncover the science- and medical-inspired insights on Mr. Rosa’s spiritual lessons.

“Every living thing is imbued with Vital Force at conception,” says Dr. Sinatra. “It can also be called Life Force, General Vitality, or simply vibration. A person’s Vital Force or vibration increases or decreases throughout that person’s life based on the mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual choices that are made each day. The better the choices, the higher the vibration or Vital Force and the stronger and healthier you become.”

Our Vital Force—AKA mitochondria—can be depleted by many things in our environment, like viruses, bacteria, heavy metals, fungi, parasites, and molds—as well as toxins caused by negative emotions from within, notes Dr. Sinatra. These factors can lower our vibration and make us sick. But when mitochondria and ATP are supported, not only can organs, particularly the heart, be repaired, but they can also be rejuvenated.

Keep reading for five tips to help you nourish your mitochondria and bring your Vital Force back to its full power.

Avoid the Big Ten Toxins as much as possible. Though it is impossible to totally avoid Dr. Sinatra’s list of the most toxic substances you’re likely to be exposed to in daily life, try to avoid or minimize exposure to them as often as possible.

  • Pesticides. To avoid them and other additives in food, eat washed organic produce. These foods are much, much lower in pesticide residue and perhaps higher in natural antioxidants, compared with nonorganic produce.
  • Prescription drugs. Many pharmaceutical drugs are mitochondrial-toxic and can deplete the body of nutrients. Often natural alternatives can help treat the underlying causes of chronic problems and minimize or eliminate risky medication usage. These alternatives include eating organic, taking nutritional supplements, engaging in regular exercise, and following a good stress-reduction method. However, if you want to stop taking a drug or ease back on it, always consult your doctor first.
  • Alcohol. Moderate intake of alcohol—one drink daily for women, two for men—may have therapeutic value, but drinking more than that is asking for trouble. Liver destruction, nutritional deficiencies, and premature aging are among the many consequences of heavy drinking.
  • Indoor and outdoor pollution. Air pollution does damage to cells and organs over time. Use an air purifier indoors to reduce dust and other particulate matter. Install a water-filter system to purify your water—the body’s most needed beverage. And avoid walking, jogging, or biking in the city during rush hour to avoid outdoor pollution.
  • Cigarette smoke. Lung cancer aside, smoking is the most destructive habit for the heart and nearly every other organ in the body. Each puff carries a toxic payload of chemicals and carcinogens. If you smoke, you need to stop now. Seek help through your physician or a credible smoking-cessation program.
  • Formaldehyde. This chemical is used in the production of many household products and is even found as a preservative in some foods. It can irritate the skin, throat, nose, and eyes, and in high-level exposure is linked to some cancer. The primary way you can be exposed to formaldehyde is by breathing it, so frequently open windows to bring fresh air indoors. Also, reduce your dependency on dry cleaning, since the process used to keep clothes wrinkle-free involves the use of formaldehyde resin.
  • Personal care products. Most deodorants, for instance, contain aluminum, which is known to cause DNA alterations and may, over time, lead to breast cancer. Antibacterial soap contains triclocarban and triclosan, which have been found to disrupt reproductive hormone activity and interfere with cell signaling activities, including in the brain and heart. Whenever possible, use natural products, and use them minimally, because what goes on the skin goes into the skin…and into the body.
  • Petrochemicals. Derivatives of petrochemicals are found in most processed food, personal care products, and cleaning products. To minimize exposure, cut down on processed food and eat organic. Be aware that solvents can cause lung and throat irritation, and furniture polish may be flammable and can cause serious injury if accidentally swallowed. Avoid products, when possible, with the word danger on the label.
  • Heavy metals. Lead from dust, dirt, old house paint, batteries, new toys, and even water flowing through lead-lined pipes can increase the risks of a number of health issues, particularly in the nervous systems of young children and unborn babies. Also avoid cigarette smoke (which contains cadmium), and limit the amount of high-mercury fish you eat, including shark, tuna, swordfish, orange roughy, large halibut, and grouper.
  • Phthalates and bisphenol A (BPA). These common compounds, used in plastics and found in products ranging from cosmetics, soaps, lotions, food packaging, and water bottles are dangerous to all. Reduce your exposure by steering clear of plastic containers whenever you can. Avoid canned foods and drink water out of glass bottles or containers.

“Fertilize” your mitochondria with targeted nutritional supplementation. Dr. Sinatra shares that there are some powerful supplements you can take to feed your mitochondria and help counteract all the toxicity to which you are exposed. These include Coenzyme Q10, Omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, carnitine, and d-ribose. NOTE: See attached sidebar: Five Mitochondria-Friendly Supplements (and the Foods They Naturally Occur In)

Support Vital Force through rhythmic deep breathing. Deep and rhythmic breathing helps the respiratory system remove the toxins that deplete your Vital Force. In addition to disposing of carbon dioxide, the respiratory system includes several protective mechanisms to prevent infiltration of toxins from the air we breathe. Dr. Sinatra recommends you practice this exercise at least five minutes every day:

  • Sit erect (but not stiff) in a straight chair with a pillow placed between your shoulder blades. Remove your shoes. Place your feet firmly on the floor or, weather permitting, barefoot on the earth outside.
  • Gently open your mouth. Let your jaw hang softly.
  • Breathe in and out through your nose, with your awareness on each inhalation and exhalation.
  • Place your hands over your navel and, with your eyes closed, feel your abdomen rise under your hands.
  • When your breathing is calm and slowed down, your Vital Force is nurtured.

Use a sauna to sweat out toxins and rejuvenate your body. Sweating in a sauna is an excellent way to detoxify the body. It helps you eliminate heavy metals, toxins, petrochemicals, insecticides, and pesticides that reside in our subcutaneous fat.

“Several of my patients strongly believe that they ‘cured’ themselves by sweating out such toxins in infrared and Swedish sauna,” says Dr. Sinatra. “Another great way to sweat out toxins is through regular exercise, which also promotes detoxification.”

Raise your vibration through positive thoughts. Along with the other self-healing powers of your body, your thoughts and actions can either raise or lower your vibration, affecting your Vital Force. Negative emotions like fear, lack of faith, anger, jealousy, greed, ego, self-pity, and negative thinking lower your vibration and make you vulnerable to illness. Luckily, you can avoid behaviors, circumstances, and thoughts that lower your vibration and can embrace others that raise it. Practice raising your energetic vibration through positive thoughts every day to enhance your Vital Force. NOTE: See attached tipsheet: 20 Things That Lower Your Vibration…and 20 More That Raise It

“Because your Vital Force is so crucial in maintaining the life—and the aliveness—in your body, you need to be committed to nurturing it back to its fullest potential,” concludes Dr. Sinatra. “It’s an ongoing job that will continue to pay off for you. When the Vital Force is strong, you become the healthiest, happiest version of yourself, because you are supported and well, all the way down to the cellular level, where true healing occurs.”

 

Five Mitochondria-Friendly Supplements
(and the Foods They Naturally Occur In)

To counteract day-to-day toxicity exposure and nourish your mitochondria, adopt
a healthy protocol of supplements and healing foods.

  • Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) plays an important role in the production of energy at the cellular level and helps produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Wild migratory salmon and sardines, as well as organ meats such as liver and heart, contain the highest quantities of CoQ10, but you can also obtain this nutrient from supplements.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids support the heart and overall health by increasing HDL (the good cholesterol), decreasing triglycerides and normalizing blood pressure, preventing plaque ruptures, and much more. While omega-3 supplements come in plant- or marine-based forms, Dr. Sinatra recommends marine-derived products because they directly supply the beneficial omega-3 fat, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Another healthy and sustainable option is squid oil.
  • Three additional ATP-boosting nutrients are magnesium, carnitine, and d-ribose. Magnesium is essential for metabolism of food and release of energy and is important in preserving the DNA in the mitochondria. Carnitine transports fatty acids to the mitochondria and helps remove toxins. Finally, d-ribose is a naturally occurring sugar derivative of ATP and can help keep mitochondria functioning at a higher level.

In addition to taking supplements, you can also eat more foods high in these nutrients. The best foods for CoQ10 are wild migratory salmon and sardines; for carnitine, the best source is lamb; for magnesium, consume nuts, seeds (especially pumpkin seeds), leafy greens, beans, and figs; for omega-3s, eat wild migratory salmon, tuna, and flaxseeds.

 

20 Things That Lower Your Vibration…and 20 More That Raise It
Excerpted from Health Revelations from Heaven: 8 Divine Teachings from a
Near-Death Experience
(Rodale Books, 2017, ISBN: 978-1-635-65066-2, $14.99)
by Tommy Rosa and Stephen Sinatra, MD

Everything in the human body—every cell, every organ, every system, every thought, every emotion—vibrates to its own natural rhythm. When our energy vibrates at a high level, we attract better health. When it vibrates at a low level, the opposite happens: Pathogens and toxins are more likely to enter the body and make us sick.

The good news is, we can avoid behaviors, attitudes, and circumstances that lower our vibration and embrace others that raise it. Tommy Rosa and Stephen Sinatra, MD, coauthors of Health Revelations from Heaven, offer a quick list to consider:

Things That Lower Your Vibration

  • Telling a lie (or knowingly not telling the truth)
  • Thinking negatively, pessimistically
  • Lacking love
  • Remaining isolated and being lonely
  • Lacking faith
  • Having aggressive behavior
  • Being selfish
  • Staying angry
  • Lacking a purpose
  • Unresolved grief or sadness
  • Not forgiving self or others
  • Envy
  • Greed
  • Laziness
  • Lacking activity and physical movement
  • Drug use
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Eating GMO (genetically modified organism) foods
  • Consuming excess sugars
  • Overexposing yourself to the chaotic, unseen frequencies of cordless and cellular phones, Bluetooth monitors, cell phone towers, computers, and other wireless technologies that create the invisible toxicity surrounding the Earth

Things That Raise Your Vibration

  • Having faith
  • Loving yourself and others
  • Forgiving yourself and others
  • Gratitude
  • Creating biological and spiritual family connections and building romantic relationships
  • Letting go of anger, fear, ego, grief, and selfishness
  • Spending time with children and animals
  • Praying and/or meditating
  • Mind/body interactions like tai chi, qigong, and yoga
  • Positive thinking
  • Volunteering
  • Not using illegal drugs and limiting alcohol intake
  • Pursuing a favorite hobby
  • Listening to music
  • Being flexible and fluid
  • Drinking clean water with minerals, preferably out of glass containers
  • Eating a clean, non-GMO, organic foods-based, non-inflammatory diet
  • Detoxifying your body and surrounding environment
  • “Grounding” by walking barefoot on sand, grass, or even concrete as often as possible
  • Taking targeted nutritional supplements that support Vital Force energy

 

 

About the Authors:
Dr. Stephen Sinatra and Tommy Rosa are coauthors of Health Revelations from Heaven.

Stephen T. Sinatra, MD, FACC, is a cardiologist and psychotherapist with 40 years of clinical experience treating heart disease. He is the host of HeartMDInstitute.com and the creator of Vervana Marketplace (vervana.com), which offers wholesome, high-quality products from all over the world. He lives in St. Petersburg, FL.

Tommy Rosa is a spiritual counselor who helps people conquer their fear of death. He is also the founder of the Unicorn Foundation in Stuart, Florida, a nonprofit foundation dedicated to educational endeavors and community outreach projects. He lives in Stuart, FL.

About the Book:
Health Revelations from Heaven: 8 Divine Teachings from a Near-Death Experience (Rodale Books, 2017, ISBN: 978-1-635-65066-2, $14.99) is available from major online booksellers. For more information, please visit www.healthrevelationsbook.com.

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03 Nov

Stand Your Ground: How Grounding Promotes Vibrant Health (and Protects You from Your Cell Phone’s Harmful Energy)

“Grounding,” also known as “earthing,” is a technique rooted in ancient wisdom that has a powerful healing effect on your body. Dr. Stephen Sinatra and coauthor Tommy Rosa explain how it works—and why it’s especially needed in the era of electronic devices.

          New York, NY (November 2017)—When was the last time you lingered barefoot in the grass, in the garden, or at the edge of the ocean? If you’re like many people, it’s probably been a while. Most of us live artificial, climate-controlled, indoor lives, and the time we spend connected (literally) to the Earth is fairly negligible. That’s not good, say Stephen Sinatra, MD, and Tommy Rosa. They say we should be spending at least half an hour each day with our feet touching the Earth—a practice known as “grounding.”

“Staying more connected to the Earth is especially important now that we’re constantly exposed to electromagnetic fields generated by electrical and wireless devices,” notes Dr. Sinatra, coauthor along with Tommy Rosa of Health Revelations from Heaven: 8 Divine Teachings from a Near-Death Experience (Rodale Books, 2017, ISBN: 978-1-635-65066-2, $14.99). “This radiation causes all sorts of health problems, likely including cancer. Grounding can help protect the body from it and in general promotes vibrant health.”

Grounding, also known as earthing, simply means connecting yourself physically to the energetic fields of the Earth. Healers in many cultures throughout history have realized the connection between the natural energy of our planet and the natural energy of the human body. Today, the concept is enjoying a revival of sorts.

Dr. Sinatra has written extensively on the subject of grounding over the years. That’s why he was so astounded when he met Mr. Rosa and discovered that he had been taught about the benefits of grounding during his life-altering near-death experience (NDE) following a serious car accident. In fact, grounding was one of the eight “health revelations” Mr. Rosa received from his otherworldly Teacher.

“I learned that Earth has a vibration that heals the body,” says Mr. Rosa. “In fact, I was specifically told that the more we ground ourselves to the planet, the more we heal ourselves from everyday radiation, toxicity, inflammation, stress, sleeping problems, and pain.”

Dr. Sinatra concurs. Based on research and his own observations as an integrative cardiologist, he says grounding has numerous health benefits. For example:

Grounding thins the blood. When blood thickens like ketchup, it can promote clotting and inflammation. Grounding has been found to cause red blood cells to achieve a consistency more like red wine. Since thick blood, with inflamed blood vessels, is the cardinal risk factor for heart disease, it makes sense to ground.

It disarms the free radicals that sicken and age us. Walking barefoot activates the KI 1 (Kidney 1) pressure point on the bottom of the foot. This activates the meridian that runs up your leg, over your back, through your kidneys, and up to your neck, ending in the roof of your mouth. This increases the flow of electrons through your body that work like antioxidants.

It restores the body’s healing potential. In 2012 Dr. Sinatra and other researchers published a review study on the health implications of grounding in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health. This study concluded that, for many, daily grounding activity can:
– Decrease inflammation.
– Reduce or eliminate chronic pain.
– Improve sleep.
– Improve blood pressure.
– Relieve muscle tension and headaches.
– Lessen hormonal and menstrual symptoms.
– Speed healing after surgery and prevent bedsores.
– Protect against potentially health-disturbing environmental electromagnetic fields.
– Balance the autonomic nervous system by decreasing sympathetic and increasing parasympathetic nervous activity. When dealing with challenges and stressful situations, we use our sympathetic nervous system and expend energy. When we’re calm and relaxed, our parasympathetic nervous system kicks in, so the body can repair and restore itself.

It lifts our spirits. Researchers at the University of California, Irvine, did a study to determine if grounding could improve mood. The findings, published in the April 2015 issue of Psychological Reports, suggest the answer is yes.

Grounding isn’t difficult, of course. All you have to do is go outside, preferably barefoot, and stand on the Earth. The challenging part is to find the time to do so at least 150 minutes a week (although, admit it, you’re probably wasting that much time on Facebook or in front of the TV) and get in the habit of daily grounding. Dr. Sinatra offers the following tips:

Walk barefoot as often as possible. If you can’t go barefoot, wear thin-soled, plain leather shoes. Avoid rubber soles like tennis sneakers or the neoprene found in running shoes, as these will keep you disconnected from the Earth.

Stand on the grass, soil, sand, concrete, or brick at least half an hour daily. You might get in the habit of going outside to have your morning coffee. You can sit outside to do your daily meditation. You can lie under the stars.

Look for fun ways to immerse yourself in nature. You can ground while gardening, camping, hiking, walking on the beach, or swimming in the ocean, a lake, or a river.

Reduce the time you spend toggled to devices and electronic ways of communicating.Don’t be a slave to your smartphone (and turn it off when not in use). It’s better to use plug-in landlines than cordless phones. Also, turn off your router at night. And move your clock or radio away from the bed so EMFs aren’t directed at your head.

If you’re really serious about it, bring grounding indoors. You can sleep, work, or relax indoors on special conductive sheets or mats connected to the Earth with wires plugged into a grounded wall outlet or a ground rod outside.

When grounding, cultivate an appreciative relationship with Mother Earth. Notice the rhythm of life and feel a sense of belonging to the natural world. Feel gratitude.

“Grounding is one of the easiest and most uplifting ways to improve your health,” says Dr. Sinatra. “Through this simple and powerful method, we can remember our connection to nature and, in doing so, reclaim aspects of our health that need rejuvenation. Where there is Earth, there is healing.”

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About the Authors:
Dr. Stephen Sinatra and Tommy Rosa are coauthors of Health Revelations from Heaven.

Stephen T. Sinatra, MD, FACC, is a cardiologist and psychotherapist with 40 years of clinical experience treating heart disease. He is the host of HeartMDInstitute.com and the creator of Vervana Marketplace (vervana.com), which offers wholesome, high-quality products from all over the world. He lives in St. Petersburg, FL.

Tommy Rosa is a spiritual counselor who helps people conquer their fear of death. He is also the founder of the Unicorn Foundation in Stuart, Florida, a nonprofit foundation dedicated to educational endeavors and community outreach projects. He lives in Stuart, FL.

About the Book: 
Health Revelations from Heaven: 8 Divine Teachings from a Near-Death Experience(Rodale Books, 2017, ISBN: 978-1-635-65066-2, $14.99) is available from major online booksellers. For more information, please visit www.healthrevelationsbook.com.

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02 Nov

When You Need to Solve a Problem

Bensmihen Head Shot 5by Joseph J.B. Bensmihen

(excerpted from Taking Your Place at the Table: The Art of Refusing to Be an Outsider, Morgan James Publishing, 2017)

 

When you need to solve a problem, call to the table people with the necessary skills. Don’t just call people with good intentions.

 

This is the fundamental principle for solving any problem. Yet in practice, it’s often overlooked—especially in federal and state legislatures, where the prevailing idea is When there’s a problem, the best people to solve it are politicians.

 

This is completely backward. Politicians’ main job is not to have good ideas and wise solutions. It’s to solicit good ideas and wise solutions from the right people, and turn the best ones into law.

 

I’ve been very closely involved with the health care industry all of my life. I’ve been a patient, a volunteer, a caregiver, a manager, a home care business owner, an advocate, a social worker, an adviser to federal and state legislators, a lobbyist, an organizer, and an association president. Because I lived for two decades in Canada and almost three decades in the United States, I’ve been able to closely compare the different health care systems. I’m in a unique position to see what can work in the U.S.—and what never will.

 

Let’s start with something that won’t work: Obamacare. It had noble goals, but it simply didn’t work very well in its first couple of years of implementation. Its predecessor, the Massachusetts-based Romneycare, didn’t work very well, either. Neither the Democratic Obama nor the Republican Romney recognized their programs’ primary flaw: each one forced large numbers of people to pick a health care plan they didn’t particularly like.

 

In health care, as in so many forms of human activity, if you have to force people to do something, it’s because they don’t want it or it doesn’t work. If something does work, you won’t have to force people to use it, because they will naturally gravitate to it.

 

The problem behind both Obamacare and Romneycare is that they were created primarily by politicians—people who don’t fully understand the economics of health care.

 

The job of designing any state or national health care program should be delegated to people who design health care plans for a living: actuaries. We’ll come back to these people shortly.

 

In order to fix the American health care system, we need to start not with something that doesn’t work, but with something that does. The United States already has an excellent health care program: Medicare. Americans are very happy with Medicare. I don’t believe an American has ever said to me, “Medicare sucks. When I turn 65, I’m not going anywhere near it. I’m buying my own private insurance instead.”

 

So, one part of the solution is to take an already popular program—Medicare—and make it available to everyone.

 

If this idea makes you uncomfortable because it’s socialized medicine, get over it, because Americans really, really like Medicare. If you think they’re wrong to like it, then for the next month try telling everyone you know, “We need to take Medicare away from our elderly neighbors, because it’s socialism.” Then let me know how things work out for you.

 

On the other hand, if you’re thinking, Wait a minute, JB. Medicare’s going broke. It’s not sustainable, you’re completely right. We can’t have a health care system that goes broke. So we need to fix the economics behind Medicare.

 

That’s what our politicians probably won’t do. But a group of competent actuaries can.

 

Making Medicare sustainable isn’t rocket science. Just call to the table a nonpartisan (or bipartisan) group of experienced actuaries. Say to them, “Figure out what American workers and employers can reasonably afford. Then, based on that amount of money, figure out how much health care we can pay for. Design a bunch of different programs around those numbers, and make sure each program pays for itself. Then bring us all the options and we’ll pick one.”

 

I don’t know what the actuaries will come up with. But any plan they come up with will stay solvent—and will give every American citizen reasonable health care coverage. Our current system does neither.

 

I’m sure that some aspects of Medicare will need to change. Maybe it will eventually kick in at age 67 rather than 65. Maybe the cost of the plan will need to go down gradually between the ages of 64 and 70. Maybe some things that are currently covered will need to become optional, for an additional charge. Maybe the market for Medicare supplements will expand to cover people of all ages. This is all fine, so long as the plan is based on solid economics, not ideology.

 

Whatever plan gets implemented, it will surely need tweaking. That’s fine, too. People will be very vocal, and very public, about what works and what doesn’t. Congress can listen to them for a couple of years, then bring the actuaries back to the table and say, “Here’s what people are saying. Come up with some fixes.” And they will.

 

Some years ago, the University of Wisconsin built a group of new buildings around a large open area. Once the buildings were ready to use, they did something—or, rather, didn’t do something—that I consider genius. Instead of putting in walkways, and trying to force people to walk in certain patterns, they left the area bare for an entire academic year. During that year, the university’s planners paid close attention to where people actually walked.

 

The next summer, when they put in the walkways, they were exactly where they needed to be, because they weren’t based on some planner’s grand idea, but on the real people who schlepped back and forth across the open space.

 

 

Bio

At the age of six, Joseph Bensmihen walked into Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau’s office, asked for an immediate meeting with him, and got it. Five years later, he was the first disabled Canadian student to be mainstreamed in a public school.

 

As an adult, JB has been a highly successful business owner, an advisor to

many members of Congress, the former President of the Private Care Association, a highly sought-after speaker, and a strong advocate for the disabled. He lives in St. Petersburg, Florida.

 

For more information about JB and his book, visit www.takingyourplaceatthetable.com.

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27 Oct

The Magic of Vibration: 20 High-Frequency Acts and Mindsets to Change Your Life for the Better (and 20 Others to Avoid)

When negative thoughts and actions lead your life, bad health (and bad news!) follow close behind. The good news is you can avoid behaviors, attitudes, and circumstances that lower your vibration and embrace others that raise it. Stephen Sinatra, MD, FACC, and near-death-experience survivor Tommy Rosa explain how.

          New York, NY (October 2017)—When you’re stuck in negativity, nothing in life seems to work. Try as you might, you can’t seem to change the factors that are holding you back from what you really want. Over time, you get depressed and listless…maybe even sick. It doesn’t have to be this way. If you want to improve your health and well-being (not to mention your love life, finances, career, and more!), you’ve got to start vibrating on a higher level.

High vibrations are the key to bringing positive change and wellness into reality, say integrative cardiologist Stephen Sinatra and Tommy Rosa, a plumber-turned-spiritual-counselor whose near-death experience (NDE) left him with some divine insights on the subject.

“Everything in the human body, every cell, organ, system, thought, and even every emotion, vibrates to its own natural rhythm,” says Mr. Rosa, coauthor of Health Revelations from Heaven: 8 Divine Teachings from a Near-Death Experience (Rodale Books, 2017, ISBN: 978-1-635-65066-2, $14.99). “When our energy vibrates at a high level, we attract better health and improved life circumstances. When it vibrates at a low level, the opposite happens: Pathogens and toxins are more likely to enter the body and make us sick. Not only that, but low vibrations also attract other negative experiences and prevent us from thriving.”

During Mr. Rosa’s NDE, he visited Heaven, and there, eight revelations of good health were imprinted on his psyche. These revelations dovetailed with the knowledge that Dr. Sinatra had gained throughout his studies of scientifically and medically validated clinical research, as well as his own experiences as a cardiologist. One of their most powerful insights? Our positive or negative thoughts influence the circumstances of our lives, including our health and our happiness. And of course our thoughts are supported and generated by the actions we take.

The good news? You can change your life, often in dramatic ways. It starts with a simple choice to cultivate a positive outlook and reap the higher vibrations it brings. Keep reading for a list of high-vibration actions to embrace, followed by a list of low-vibration ones to avoid.

Things That Raise Your Vibration

· Having faith
· Loving yourself and others
· Forgiving yourself and others
· Gratitude
· Creating biological and spiritual family connections and building romantic relationships
· Letting go of anger, fear, ego, grief, and selfishness
· Spending time with children and animals
· Praying and/or meditating
· Mind/body interactions like tai chi, qigong, and yoga
· Positive thinking
· Volunteering
· Not using illegal drugs and limiting alcohol intake
· Pursuing a favorite hobby
· Listening to music
· Being flexible and fluid
· Drinking clean water with minerals, preferably out of glass containers
· Eating a clean, non-GMO, organic foods-based, non-inflammatory diet
· Detoxifying your body and surrounding environment
· “Grounding” by walking barefoot on sand, grass, or even concrete as often as possible
· Taking targeted nutritional supplements that support Vital Force energy

Things That Lower Your Vibration

· Telling a lie (or knowingly not telling the truth)
· Thinking negatively, pessimistically
· Lacking love
· Remaining isolated and being lonely
· Lacking faith
· Having aggressive behavior
· Being selfish
· Staying angry
· Lacking a purpose
· Unresolved grief or sadness
· Not forgiving self or others
· Envy
· Greed
· Laziness
· Lacking activity and physical movement
· Drug use
· Drinking alcohol
· Eating GMO (genetically modified organism) foods
· Consuming excess sugars
· Overexposing yourself to the chaotic, unseen frequencies of cordless and cellular phones, Bluetooth monitors, cell phone towers, computers, and other wireless technologies that create the invisible toxicity surrounding the Earth

Whether you are seeking health, wealth, or happiness, keep in mind the state of your thoughts and actions and the vibrations they create. Once you begin observing how your actions and general outlook affect your life, it becomes easier to drop negativity for good.

“Remember that negative thoughts are toxic to the body and that whatever you dwell on most expands,” says Dr. Sinatra. “So talk back to your negative thoughts and avoid actions that will lower your vibration and attract more illness and struggle. Instead, dwell on the good in your life, as well as what you want from life. When you do this, goodness expands, you raise your vibrations, and your desires will manifest themselves. It’s not magic, but the transformation it can bring about is magical.”

# # #

About the Authors:
Dr. Stephen Sinatra and Tommy Rosa are coauthors of Health Revelations from Heaven.

Stephen T. Sinatra, MD, FACC, is a cardiologist and psychotherapist with 40 years of clinical experience treating heart disease. He is the host of HeartMDInstitute.com and the creator of Vervana Marketplace (vervana.com), which offers wholesome, high-quality products from all over the world. He lives in St. Petersburg, FL.

Tommy Rosa is a spiritual counselor who helps people conquer their fear of death. He is also the founder of the Unicorn Foundation in Stuart, Florida, a nonprofit foundation dedicated to educational endeavors and community outreach projects. He lives in Stuart, FL.

About the Book: 
Health Revelations from Heaven: 8 Divine Teachings from a Near-Death Experience(Rodale Books, 2017, ISBN: 978-1-635-65066-2, $14.99) is available from major online booksellers. For more information, please visit www.healthrevelationsbook.com.

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27 Oct

Is Your Modern Lifestyle Depleting Your Vital Force? Five Ways to Restore Your Mitochondria and Safeguard Your Health

What do busy lifestyles, environmental toxins, bad habits, and stress have in common? They’re all wreaking havoc on your body and depleting your Vital Force. But integrative cardiologist Stephen Sinatra, MD, FACC, and spiritual counselor Tommy Rosa say you can restore the mitochondria that supports Vital Force and secure your health. Here, they show you how.

          New York, NY (October 2017)—You’re caught in a relentless cycle of depletion. Between the daily challenges of work, family, and taking care of yourself, you feel your energy and stamina dwindling, but you don’t know how to stop it. Even worse, after years of frantically rushing from one place to the next and meeting deadlines, stopping long enough to scarf down some questionable fast food, and collapsing into bed each night, your hectic lifestyle feels normal. You worry: If I keep up this pace, I’ll surely get sick…really sick.

The worst part is, you’re right. Struggling through life, exhausted and depleted, is a recipe for certain illness. But Dr. Stephen Sinatra and spiritual counselor Tommy Rosa say there is a way to bring your body and spirit back into balance: Nurture your Vital Force.

“We are all born with an inner core energy called Vital Force that, when strong, leads to healing, good health, and overall well-being,” says Dr. Sinatra, coauthor of Health Revelations from Heaven: 8 Divine Teachings from a Near-Death Experience (Rodale Books, 2017, ISBN: 978-1-635-65066-2, $14.99). “But if you don’t nurture this energy, it can’t sustain you. Many aspects of modern life destroy or weaken your Vital Force, and that’s when you get sick.”

What exactly is Vital Force? Well, it’s called chi by the Chinese, ki by the Japanese, prana by Hindus, and breath of God by Hebrews and Christians. But when scientific types talk about Vital Force, they tend to focus on the mitochondria that produce it, explains Dr. Sinatra. Mitochondria are tiny cucumber-shaped power plants in cells that produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is the energy of life. Our body must make ATP continuously or else we perish. But we store enough for only 8-10 heart beats.

Thousands of studies have now been published on the link between abnormal mitochondrial dynamics and their involvement in diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, diabetes, obesity, autoimmune conditions, cancer, heart disease, headaches, chronic fatigue syndrome, and even aging itself. More than 50 million people in the United States are said to be affected by conditions involved in mitochondria dysfunction.

Here’s where things get interesting: Dr. Sinatra’s coauthor, Mr. Rosa, learned about Vital Force during a life-altering near-death experience (NDE) following a terrible accident. During his stay in Heaven, eight revelations of good health were imprinted onto his psyche. These revelations dovetailed with the knowledge that Dr. Sinatra had already gained through his studies of scientifically and medically validated clinical research, as well as his own experiences as a cardiologist. Upon meeting Mr. Rosa at a lecture in 2010, the two friends began working together to uncover the science- and medical-inspired insights on Mr. Rosa’s spiritual lessons.

“Every living thing is imbued with Vital Force at conception,” says Dr. Sinatra. “It can also be called Life Force, General Vitality, or simply vibration. A person’s Vital Force or vibration increases or decreases throughout that person’s life based on the mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual choices that are made each day. The better the choices, the higher the vibration or Vital Force and the stronger and healthier you become.”

Our Vital Force—AKA mitochondria—can be depleted by many things in our environment, like viruses, bacteria, heavy metals, fungi, parasites, and molds—as well as toxins caused by negative emotions from within, notes Dr. Sinatra. These factors can lower our vibration and make us sick. But when mitochondria and ATP are supported, not only can organs, particularly the heart, be repaired, but they can also be rejuvenated.

Keep reading for five tips to help you nourish your mitochondria and bring your Vital Force back to its full power.

Avoid the Big Ten Toxins as much as possible. Though it is impossible to totally avoid Dr. Sinatra’s list of the most toxic substances you’re likely to be exposed to in daily life, try to avoid or minimize exposure to them as often as possible.

  • Pesticides. To avoid them and other additives in food, eat washed organic produce. These foods are much, much lower in pesticide residue and perhaps higher in natural antioxidants, compared with nonorganic produce.
  • Prescription drugs. Many pharmaceutical drugs are mitochondrial-toxic and can deplete the body of nutrients. Often natural alternatives can help treat the underlying causes of chronic problems and minimize or eliminate risky medication usage. These alternatives include eating organic, taking nutritional supplements, engaging in regular exercise, and following a good stress-reduction method. However, if you want to stop taking a drug or ease back on it, always consult your doctor first.
  • Alcohol. Moderate intake of alcohol—one drink daily for women, two for men—may have therapeutic value, but drinking more than that is asking for trouble. Liver destruction, nutritional deficiencies, and premature aging are among the many consequences of heavy drinking.
  • Indoor and outdoor pollution. Air pollution does damage to cells and organs over time. Use an air purifier indoors to reduce dust and other particulate matter. Install a water-filter system to purify your water—the body’s most needed beverage. And avoid walking, jogging, or biking in the city during rush hour to avoid outdoor pollution.
  • Cigarette smoke. Lung cancer aside, smoking is the most destructive habit for the heart and nearly every other organ in the body. Each puff carries a toxic payload of chemicals and carcinogens. If you smoke, you need to stop now. Seek help through your physician or a credible smoking-cessation program.
  • Formaldehyde. This chemical is used in the production of many household products and is even found as a preservative in some foods. It can irritate the skin, throat, nose, and eyes, and in high-level exposure is linked to some cancer. The primary way you can be exposed to formaldehyde is by breathing it, so frequently open windows to bring fresh air indoors. Also, reduce your dependency on dry cleaning, since the process used to keep clothes wrinkle-free involves the use of formaldehyde resin.
  • Personal care products. Most deodorants, for instance, contain aluminum, which is known to cause DNA alterations and may, over time, lead to breast cancer. Antibacterial soap contains triclocarban and triclosan, which have been found to disrupt reproductive hormone activity and interfere with cell signaling activities, including in the brain and heart. Whenever possible, use natural products, and use them minimally, because what goes on the skin goes into the skin…and into the body.
  • Petrochemicals. Derivatives of petrochemicals are found in most processed food, personal care products, and cleaning products. To minimize exposure, cut down on processed food and eat organic. Be aware that solvents can cause lung and throat irritation, and furniture polish may be flammable and can cause serious injury if accidentally swallowed. Avoid products, when possible, with the word danger on the label.
  • Heavy metals. Lead from dust, dirt, old house paint, batteries, new toys, and even water flowing through lead-lined pipes can increase the risks of a number of health issues, particularly in the nervous systems of young children and unborn babies. Also avoid cigarette smoke (which contains cadmium), and limit the amount of high-mercury fish you eat, including shark, tuna, swordfish, orange roughy, large halibut, and grouper.
  • Phthalates and bisphenol A (BPA). These common compounds, used in plastics and found in products ranging from cosmetics, soaps, lotions, food packaging, and water bottles are dangerous to all. Reduce your exposure by steering clear of plastic containers whenever you can. Avoid canned foods and drink water out of glass bottles or containers.

“Fertilize” your mitochondria with targeted nutritional supplementation. Dr. Sinatra shares that there are some powerful supplements you can take to feed your mitochondria and help counteract all the toxicity to which you are exposed. These include Coenzyme Q10, Omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, carnitine, and d-ribose. NOTE: See attached sidebar: Five Mitochondria-Friendly Supplements (and the Foods They Naturally Occur In)

Support Vital Force through rhythmic deep breathing. Deep and rhythmic breathing helps the respiratory system remove the toxins that deplete your Vital Force. In addition to disposing of carbon dioxide, the respiratory system includes several protective mechanisms to prevent infiltration of toxins from the air we breathe. Dr. Sinatra recommends you practice this exercise at least five minutes every day:

  • Sit erect (but not stiff) in a straight chair with a pillow placed between your shoulder blades. Remove your shoes. Place your feet firmly on the floor or, weather permitting, barefoot on the earth outside.
  • Gently open your mouth. Let your jaw hang softly.
  • Breathe in and out through your nose, with your awareness on each inhalation and exhalation.
  • Place your hands over your navel and, with your eyes closed, feel your abdomen rise under your hands.
  • When your breathing is calm and slowed down, your Vital Force is nurtured.

Use a sauna to sweat out toxins and rejuvenate your body. Sweating in a sauna is an excellent way to detoxify the body. It helps you eliminate heavy metals, toxins, petrochemicals, insecticides, and pesticides that reside in our subcutaneous fat.

“Several of my patients strongly believe that they ‘cured’ themselves by sweating out such toxins in infrared and Swedish sauna,” says Dr. Sinatra. “Another great way to sweat out toxins is through regular exercise, which also promotes detoxification.”

Raise your vibration through positive thoughts. Along with the other self-healing powers of your body, your thoughts and actions can either raise or lower your vibration, affecting your Vital Force. Negative emotions like fear, lack of faith, anger, jealousy, greed, ego, self-pity, and negative thinking lower your vibration and make you vulnerable to illness. Luckily, you can avoid behaviors, circumstances, and thoughts that lower your vibration and can embrace others that raise it. Practice raising your energetic vibration through positive thoughts every day to enhance your Vital Force. NOTE: See attached tipsheet: 20 Things That Lower Your Vibration…and 20 More That Raise It

“Because your Vital Force is so crucial in maintaining the life—and the aliveness—in your body, you need to be committed to nurturing it back to its fullest potential,” concludes Dr. Sinatra. “It’s an ongoing job that will continue to pay off for you. When the Vital Force is strong, you become the healthiest, happiest version of yourself, because you are supported and well, all the way down to the cellular level, where true healing occurs.”

 

Five Mitochondria-Friendly Supplements
(and the Foods They Naturally Occur In)

To counteract day-to-day toxicity exposure and nourish your mitochondria, adopt
a healthy protocol of supplements and healing foods.

  • Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) plays an important role in the production of energy at the cellular level and helps produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Wild migratory salmon and sardines, as well as organ meats such as liver and heart, contain the highest quantities of CoQ10, but you can also obtain this nutrient from supplements.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids support the heart and overall health by increasing HDL (the good cholesterol), decreasing triglycerides and normalizing blood pressure, preventing plaque ruptures, and much more. While omega-3 supplements come in plant- or marine-based forms, Dr. Sinatra recommends marine-derived products because they directly supply the beneficial omega-3 fat, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Another healthy and sustainable option is squid oil.
  • Three additional ATP-boosting nutrients are magnesium, carnitine, and d-ribose. Magnesium is essential for metabolism of food and release of energy and is important in preserving the DNA in the mitochondria. Carnitine transports fatty acids to the mitochondria and helps remove toxins. Finally, d-ribose is a naturally occurring sugar derivative of ATP and can help keep mitochondria functioning at a higher level.

In addition to taking supplements, you can also eat more foods high in these nutrients. The best foods for CoQ10 are wild migratory salmon and sardines; for carnitine, the best source is lamb; for magnesium, consume nuts, seeds (especially pumpkin seeds), leafy greens, beans, and figs; for omega-3s, eat wild migratory salmon, tuna, and flaxseeds.

 

20 Things That Lower Your Vibration…and 20 More That Raise It
Excerpted from Health Revelations from Heaven: 8 Divine Teachings from a
Near-Death Experience
(Rodale Books, 2017, ISBN: 978-1-635-65066-2, $14.99)
by Tommy Rosa and Stephen Sinatra, MD

Everything in the human body—every cell, every organ, every system, every thought, every emotion—vibrates to its own natural rhythm. When our energy vibrates at a high level, we attract better health. When it vibrates at a low level, the opposite happens: Pathogens and toxins are more likely to enter the body and make us sick.

The good news is, we can avoid behaviors, attitudes, and circumstances that lower our vibration and embrace others that raise it. Tommy Rosa and Stephen Sinatra, MD, coauthors of Health Revelations from Heaven, offer a quick list to consider:

Things That Lower Your Vibration

· Telling a lie (or knowingly not telling the truth)
· Thinking negatively, pessimistically
· Lacking love
· Remaining isolated and being lonely
· Lacking faith
· Having aggressive behavior
· Being selfish
· Staying angry
· Lacking a purpose
· Unresolved grief or sadness
· Not forgiving self or others
· Envy
· Greed
· Laziness
· Lacking activity and physical movement
· Drug use
· Drinking alcohol
· Eating GMO (genetically modified organism) foods
· Consuming excess sugars
· Overexposing yourself to the chaotic, unseen frequencies of cordless and cellular phones, Bluetooth monitors, cell phone towers, computers, and other wireless technologies that create the invisible toxicity surrounding the Earth

Things That Raise Your Vibration

· Having faith
· Loving yourself and others
· Forgiving yourself and others
· Gratitude
· Creating biological and spiritual family connections and building romantic relationships
· Letting go of anger, fear, ego, grief, and selfishness
· Spending time with children and animals
· Praying and/or meditating
· Mind/body interactions like tai chi, qigong, and yoga
· Positive thinking
· Volunteering
· Not using illegal drugs and limiting alcohol intake
· Pursuing a favorite hobby
· Listening to music
· Being flexible and fluid
· Drinking clean water with minerals, preferably out of glass containers
· Eating a clean, non-GMO, organic foods-based, non-inflammatory diet
· Detoxifying your body and surrounding environment
· “Grounding” by walking barefoot on sand, grass, or even concrete as often as possible
· Taking targeted nutritional supplements that support Vital Force energy

 

 

About the Authors:
Dr. Stephen Sinatra and Tommy Rosa are coauthors of Health Revelations from Heaven.

Stephen T. Sinatra, MD, FACC, is a cardiologist and psychotherapist with 40 years of clinical experience treating heart disease. He is the host of HeartMDInstitute.com and the creator of Vervana Marketplace (vervana.com), which offers wholesome, high-quality products from all over the world. He lives in St. Petersburg, FL.

Tommy Rosa is a spiritual counselor who helps people conquer their fear of death. He is also the founder of the Unicorn Foundation in Stuart, Florida, a nonprofit foundation dedicated to educational endeavors and community outreach projects. He lives in Stuart, FL.

About the Book:
Health Revelations from Heaven: 8 Divine Teachings from a Near-Death Experience (Rodale Books, 2017, ISBN: 978-1-635-65066-2, $14.99) is available from major online booksellers. For more information, please visit www.healthrevelationsbook.com.

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26 Oct

Let’s (NOT) Pretend: How Even Subtle Pretending Harms You and Others…and How to Stop It Now

Is your pretentious behavior destroying your life? It’s never too late to drop the act, rebuild your character, and find your true power. Authors Greg Miller, Aaron Hill, and Jack Skeen share the secrets to help you stop pretending today and discover the real you.

          Hoboken, NJ (October 2017)—You’d like to believe you’re an honest, brilliant, and overall fantastic person, but can you really say you’re as upstanding and (dare we say it) as superior as you’re pretending to be? Probably not. Too many people put on a carefully constructed veneer of perfection and live life inside that false (glamorous, selfless, confident) persona. If you’re one of them, you may believe pretending helps you get ahead and makes people like and envy you. Not true, says Greg Miller: Even if you do manage to fool a few people, you’re only hurting yourself.

“The person you are is so much more powerful than the person you’re pretending to be,” says Miller, who along with Jack Skeen and Aaron Hill wrote The Circle Blueprint: Decoding the Conscious and Unconscious Factors that Determine Your Success (Wiley, October 2017, ISBN: 978-1-119-43485-6, $26.00, www.thecircleblueprint.com). “Pretentious behavior stifles your authentic self, both the bad and the good qualities. When you pretend to be smarter, stronger, or better than you are, it also squelches your talents and your ability to connect to others. It stops you from growing into your real potential.”

The authors describe pretentiousness as the need to appear more accomplished and successful than you really are. Those displaying pretentious behavior are preoccupied with how others view them and must always be seen in a favorable light. It manifests in many under-the-radar ways, but, ultimately, pretentious behavior prevents you from achieving independence.

Independence, by the way, is one of the four critical developmental areas discussed in The Circle Blueprint. The book is part of a larger self-improvement program called the Circle Blueprint System, which also includes workbooks and a confidential scientifically validated psychometric self-assessment. The self-assessment is free with purchase of the book. According to the authors, being independent means taking 100 percent responsibility for your life and the outcomes of your choices, living free from the self-talk and the torment of inner doubts and insecurities, staying in the present moment, and avoiding drama. Bottom line? You can’t be independent and stuck in a pattern of deceiving others.

“Pretending doesn’t have to be extreme—having a secret second family or practicing medicine when you never went to medical school—to be damaging,” says Skeen. “Even pretending in subtle ways sabotages your relationships and keeps you from ever finding your true source of strength and power.”

If you can break out from the habit of pretending, you’ll ultimately be happier, and others will finally get to see the real you. But first you must release the need to win others’ approval and find independence by dropping the pretense. Keep reading to learn what happens when you choose to pretend instead of being your real self (which could be pretty darn great if you would just let it shine through!). Then check out the authors’ guidelines to help you slay your pretentious behavior once and for all.

Red Flags That You Are Pretending Your Life Away

You get ahead by taking credit when you should not. Your success is due to the work of someone else or maybe even dumb luck. And when people think you’re responsible for the positive outcome, you don’t correct them.

You are secretive or dishonest with your partner. You may keep secrets from your spouse or partner. These could be small secrets, like sneaking candy bars and sodas even though you claim to be faithfully following your diet. Or you may be hiding bigger, more serious secrets or telling bigger lies. Either way, these deceits throw your relationship into a crisis of trust and stop any chances you may have of knowing each other.

You put undue pressure on your kids. If you have children, you may be affecting them with your pretentious behavior. Whether you pretend you were better at sports than you were, or to have received better grades, you are pretending in order to “earn” their respect and pressure them to be like you. But any respect this creates will dissolve when and if they discover the truth.

You can’t maintain real friendships. Friendships are important because your friends are your allies in life; they are people with resources that you can call on when you need help. But they can’t thrive when they’re not built upon trust and mutual respect. Thanks to your pretentiousness, your friendships are built on a weak foundation. It’s possible, even, that your friends see through your façade and therefore keep you at arm’s length.

You live with the fear of being discovered. Because you spend so much time pretending to be greater than you actually are, deep down you feel like a fake. This knowledge leads to a feeling of fear and anxiety of being “found out.” You may even feel the need to avoid certain people who know the truth about your life, or worry when the phone rings for fear of being exposed.

You have no foundation for discovering your power. By building a life on a foundation of deceit and pretense instead of substance, you’ve inhibited your ability to create a useful and powerful life. Because your successes, your reputation, and even your possessions came by way of dishonesty, you have no idea how to use your actual abilities and skills to chart your course.

You ruin your real confidence. An unintended consequence of pretending is, ironically, that you undermine your confidence in yourself. Because you know you have achieved your successes through dishonesty, you lose faith in your actual capabilities. In short, you have trusted a lie over the truth about yourself.

You lie frequently and have a reputation as a liar. Pretending is the same as lying. Every lie you tell makes it more difficult for you and the world around you to see your true value. Sometimes you may even lie when you have nothing to gain from it. Unfortunately, others can often see that you are a liar and may avoid spending time around or collaborating with you.

You lose yourself…your real self. The more you pretend, the less you become aware about your true identity and lose yourself completely. Eventually you come to believe your own lies and your uniqueness dissipates.


Quick Tips to Help You Stop Pretending and Find Your Real Power

Figure out when you first started pretending. Think back in your past, even to your childhood. Do you remember when you realized that the truth may not get you what you wanted or could cause you difficulty? At that moment, you lacked inner confidence and made the wrong decision. Realize that today you can develop the tools to build real confidence and stop hiding behind lies and deception.

Discover what you’re really afraid of. A big motivation of pretentiousness is fear—fear of an unwanted outcome of some kind. What are you trying to avoid by pretending? Are you trying to escape hard work, or dodge a sense of shame, or hide the fact that you feel unworthy? List all the fears or consequences you try to avoid by behaving pretentiously.

Assess the damage. Until you can identify your pretense, it’s almost impossible to give it up. So consider all the ways you have been pretending in your life. This may be tricky, because you’ve likely been pretending for so long that you almost believe your pretense is true. Figure out all the ways in which you lie by omission, cut corners, take credit unduly, or actively deceive. Vow to change the behavior today.

Accept yourself for who you are. Giving up pretending requires you to accept yourself for who you are. While it is certainly true that you aren’t good at everything and it may be true that you aren’t everything the people in your life want you to be, it is critical that you accept yourself for who you are—strong and weak, good and bad. Make a list of your true strengths and weaknesses and work on accepting that you are enough as you are.

Come clean. Review any area in your life where you are lying or deceiving others and come clean. Until you do, your integrity will be weak, and you will have difficulty expanding your life and being whole. Make a complete list and then summon your courage to have the difficult conversations you need to have. Start by admitting to others that you have not been telling the truth. Apologize and tell them what is true. Ask for their forgiveness. Promise not to deceive them in the future.

Embrace absolute honesty. In order to keep growing, you need to be completely honest in every word you speak. But this is something you’ll have to practice constantly. Notice when you are considering saying something that isn’t true. Catch yourself and speak truthfully instead. If you have a slip-up, go back and correct it. Practicing complete candor helps you leave pretending behind.

Make clear agreements. Clear agreements have a well-defined outcome and a specific date and time they will be completed. When you don’t have clear agreements, you leave room for misunderstanding. Focus on making your agreements crystal clear, so you are more able to keep them. When you realize you won’t be able to keep your agreement, immediately call the person with whom you have it and renegotiate it. When you do so, you maintain trust in the relationship.

Learn to say no. Saying no is a valuable skill to learn when you are working on developing honesty. When you make agreements to appease others, overcommit, or fail to think through your interest in whatever agreement you are making, you set yourself up to not follow through. How many items have been lingering on your to-do list for months or even years? Start by learning to say no. Say no to whatever you don’t want to do. Say no to whatever you know you won’t be able to do. Say no a lot.

Focus on “being” instead of “doing.” Many people seem to act as if the success in their life is about what they do. They are successful if they get a good job, make a lot of money, have a lot of power. But real success in life has more to do with who you are than with what you do. Therefore, “being” is far more important than “doing.” Weak people can create outward success but often struggle to maintain it, while strong people build a foundation on which a successful future can be built. To build this foundation, focus on “being” by noticing your character, acting with honor, and always speaking candidly. This is the key to earning others’ respect without pretending.

“When you finally stop pretending, you find your true power,” concludes Hill. “By becoming aware of all the ways pretending has strangled your well-being, you can take the steps to drop the façade and figure out how to reconnect with the real you. Glimmers of your genuine greatness are no doubt shining through and waiting to be released. Look for them today, and you’ll soon begin to remember who you really are.”

# # #

About the Authors:
JACK SKEEN, PhD, is the founder of Skeen Leadership, an executive consulting firm. Skeen coaches successful leaders, addressing every imaginable leadership, business, and life issue with wisdom and professionalism.

GREG MILLER, PhD, is CEO of CrossCom, a technology services company. Miller has successfully led CrossCom to become a market leader through process efficiency, technology innovation, and rigorous execution.

AARON HILL, PhD, is the William S. Spears Chair in Business Administration at Oklahoma State University. He has authored a dozen articles appearing in the Financial Times Top 50 business journals.

About the Book:
The Circle Blueprint: Decoding the Conscious and Unconscious Factors that Determine Your Success (Wiley, October 2017, ISBN: 978-1-119-43485-6, $26.00, www.thecircleblueprint.com) is available at bookstores nationwide, from major online booksellers, and direct from the publisher by calling 800-225-5945. In Canada, call 800-567-4797. For more information, please visit the book’s page on www.wiley.com.

For more information, please visit www.thecircleblueprint.com.

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