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22 Jul

Cultivating Mindful Awareness for Better Focus

By Juliet Dreamhunter

Recent research has brought into focus an intriguing aspect of human behavior: the fleeting nature of our attention span. There are times when it feels like we’re just programmed to lose our focus and get easily sidetracked from achieving anything we had in mind.

Doesn’t matter if you’re in the middle of a fascinating book or a critical work project. When suddenly your phone pings with a notification, without even thinking about it, you probably reach to check it. It’s a knee-jerk reaction, much like the startle response to a loud sound or the flinch from a sudden bright light. You might think, “It’s just the way I’m wired. I can’t resist these distractions.”

Where did this notion come from? Well, it turns out that the roots of this quick-to-react tendency trace all the way back to our early ancestors, even though they didn’t have any of the technological miracles we enjoy today. In a world where immediate responses often meant the difference between survival and extinction, being alert to potential threats and reacting swiftly was a valuable asset.

Those survival instincts, hardwired in our brains through centuries, manifest in our modern world as a proneness to distractions. You see, when we shift our focus, the decision-making part of our brain lights up, similar to our ancestors’ brains reacting to danger signals.

But there’s a twist to this tale. Our brains are incredibly sophisticated, not just reacting to the world around us but also predicting what comes next. How does this work, you wonder?

From our early years, our brains start forming rules and patterns based on our experiences. Over time, these rules solidify, helping us make sense of the world. The ping from your phone, therefore, isn’t just a sound; it’s a cue that your brain associates with new information, an exciting social interaction, or even an urgent task.

Now, this is where the story takes a turn. There’s a growing school of thought that suggests our focus isn’t a finite, easily exhaustible resource. Instead, it’s something we can shape, control, and even cultivate. In other words, we’re not mere puppets pulled by the strings of an uncontrolled, easily distractible brain (as opposed to our less lucky animal friends. As humans, we have the power to reshape our brain in order to manage how we interact with our surroundings.

Additionally, our relationship with the environment isn’t as one-sided as it might seem. It’s easy to believe that our surroundings primarily dictate where our attention goes. However, it’s more of a two-way street.

Our bodily and emotional state also play a significant role. For instance, if you’re tired or hungry, your ability to focus on a complex task may falter. Conversely, if you’re well-rested and content, the same task may seem much easier to tackle.

This shift in perspective can be a game-changer for someone struggling to become more focused. It suggests we’re not just passive participants in a world full of distractions. Instead, we actively create our reality! We choose which stimuli to process as valuable information and which ones to dismiss as noise. It’s a bit like being a DJ, selecting the tracks that best fit the mood and skipping the ones that don’t.

Now that we’ve established this, let’s delve deeper and explore how we can use this understanding to our advantage. How can we cultivate this power to choose, control, and refine our focus? This is where mindfulness and meditation enter the picture.

Mindfulness is the practice of deliberately focusing on the present moment without judgment. It’s like training your mind to remain balanced on a tightrope, not wandering into the past or the future. And the best part? You can exercise this mental muscle anywhere, anytime.

Whether you’re sipping your morning coffee, listening to a friend, or merely breathing, mindfulness can be integrated into every aspect of your life.

Meditation, a most commonly known practice of mindfulness, can be particularly effective in enhancing our focus. In a way, it’s like hitting the gym, but for your mind. Regular meditation practice can help strengthen our ‘attention muscle’, making it less prone to distractions. In other words, it equips us with the ability to be in control of our own attention, consciously deciding where our focus goes.

By practicing mindfulness and meditation, we can harness our power to create our reality. These tools allow us to rewrite the rules formed by our brains, to modify the patterns that have solidified over time. Through this, we can transform our interactions with the world, making our experiences more meaningful and focused.

Now, the next question is, how can we use these tools to rediscover who we truly are? With the power to control our focus and consciously create our reality, the journey of self-discovery becomes all the more interesting.


Juliet Dreamhunter is a certified goal success coach and the founder of Juliety.

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24 Mar

The Oral Microbiome by Dr. Akil Palanisamy, MD

As we work to heal the gut microbiome and reduced intestinal permeability, we also must consider the oral microbiome. This pivotal factor is often overlooked in autoimmune conditions (and other chronic diseases), even though it has powerful effects on dental health and diseases, the gut microbiome, and systemic inflammation.

Through multiple mechanisms, oral bacteria can play a role in disparate conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, colon cancer, lung infections, brain abscesses, and autoimmunity.i For this reason, the oral microbiome has a substantial impact on the immune system and can sometimes be the missing link in terms of helping a patient with autoimmunity to achieve remission.

The oral microbiome contains the second largest collection of bacteria in the body after the gut, harboring around 6 billion bacteria and over 700 different species.ii Although this microbiome is relatively well-studied, newer more advanced techniques have found that these numbers are likely underestimating the quantity and diversity of bacteria.

We swallow a whopping 1-2 L of saliva per day. Assuming on the low end that we swallow only 1 L per day leads to an interesting calculation. Considering that saliva contains between 800 million to more than 1 billion bacteria/mL,iii that works out to an incredible 800 billion to > 1 trillion oral bacteria swallowed per day – more powerful than almost any probiotic available on the market. And there are no breaks or “days off” from this influx of bacteria – it is a constant and daily occurrence. From this, we can understand how the oral microbiome could have such a significant impact on the gut microbiome and overall systemic inflammation.


A Key Player in Autoimmunity

Porphyromonas gingivalis (P. gingivalis) is an oral bacterium that is involved in the pathogenesis of periodontitis, an inflammatory disease that destroys the gums and can lead to tooth loss. It also plays a key role in rheumatoid arthritis, as these bacteria are potent inducers of immune mediated proinflammatory responses leading to bone damage and systemic inflammation.iv P. Gingivalis is also implicated in rheumatoid arthritis through molecules known as “citrullinated proteins”.

Accumulating evidence suggests a role for autoimmunity against these citrullinated proteins in the development of rheumatoid arthritis. By driving the production of these proteins, this bacteria may contribute to the development of RA. In fact, anti-cyclic citrullinated protein antibodies (anti-CCP antibodies) are the most common rheumatoid arthritis biomarker, found in the blood of most patients with RA. A more recently discovered bacteria, Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans, is also an inducer of citrullinated proteins and is being studied for its role in RA.v


Leaky Mouth Syndrome

The epithelial cells lining the mouth maintain a strong barrier, limiting the entry of microbes and toxins, because the mouth is the gateway to the world and the first line of defense against pathogens. Just as dysbiosis in the G.I. tract contributes to impaired barrier function, oral dysbiosis can lead to increased permeability and the condition of “leaky mouth,” in which inflammation in the oral mucosa caused by dysbiosis and other factors damages the normal barrier, allowing for the entry of bacteria, toxins, and other microbes into the bloodstream. Because the mouth and gums are highly vascular, anything that slips through can easily travel to other parts of the body and cause complications—as with P. gingivalis. A striking example of this permeability was seen in a 9-year-old with celiac disease (an autoimmune disease exacerbated by gluten exposure) who struggled with abdominal pain despite a strict gluten-free diet. She was symptomatic and had positive serum markers for active disease, which indicated she was somehow getting exposed to gluten. The cause for this turned out to be her orthodontic retainer—gluten is a common additive in plastics, and she was absorbing trace amounts orally. Discontinuing use led to resolution of her symptoms and her celiac markers returned to normal. vi


Oral Dysbiosis in Autoimmunity

Dysbiosis in the oral microbiome has been discovered in patients with a number of autoimmune diseases. For example, patients with autoimmune liver diseases such as autoimmune hepatitis and primary biliary cirrhosis exhibit signs of dysbiosis in their oral microbiota with increases in the levels of certain pathogens (overgrowth of harmful bacteria in their mouth).vii Other autoimmune conditions in which changes in the oral microbiome have been identified include Sjogren’s syndrome, systemic sclerosis, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and Crohn’s disease. viii

As we’ve learned, rheumatoid arthritis is also connected with the oral microbiome; studies from Europe, Asia, and Canada have found that patients with rheumatoid arthritis have a distinct oral (and gastrointestinal) microbiome compared to healthy controls. ix


Strengthen Your Oral Microbiome

To support the health of the oral microbiome, teeth, and gums, of course good nutrition is essential. A balanced diet rich in micronutrients, minerals, and essential fatty acids, like the food plan offered in Chapter 10, is the foundation. Adequate intake of calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin K2 support healthy teeth.

Avoid processed sweeteners such as sugar or high fructose corn syrup because simple sugars feed the growth of bad bacteria in both the oral and gastrointestinal microbiome. Processed fructose (anything not found naturally in fruits) increases LPS and intestinal permeability, as we discussed earlier in this chapter.

Good dental hygiene, including daily brushing and flossing are important. Avoid commercial mouthwashes, because the repeated exposure to antibacterial compounds can have detrimental effects on the oral microbiome. Instead, I recommend the Ayurvedic practice of oil-pulling, which I describe below.


Prevent Dry Mouth

Maintaining adequate levels of saliva is crucial because saliva contains enzymes, antibodies, and proteins that help maintain a healthy oral microbiome. Scientists have discovered many vital salivary components that both directly and indirectly prevent dysbiosis in the mouth.x This is why people with dry mouth from insufficient saliva are at higher risk of tooth decay, bad breath, and dysbiosis. In such cases, chewing gum with xylitol, sucking on ice cubes, and increasing water intake can help increase salivary production. A humidifier, especially in your bedroom while you sleep, may help as well.


Breathe Right

Chronic mouth breathing is a major cause of dry mouth. We were designed to breathe through our nose, which will filter and humidify the air we take in. Mouth breathing increases the odds of snoring and dries out the mouth, which can contribute to dysbiosis – especially if it occurs for prolonged periods such as during sleep. If you regularly wake up with bad breath or dry mouth, it’s likely you are breathing through your mouth overnight.

If this is the case, you might try mouth taping, which is a simple solution that can have big benefits. Immediately before bed, apply petroleum jelly to your lips and place a piece of hypoallergenic tape horizontally across both your lips. There are brands of tape made specifically for this purpose; however, you can also use paper tape, the kind of you might find in a first-aid kit. Many of my patients who swear that this technique dramatically improves their sleep quality. There aren’t many available studies on mouth taping, but it is inexpensive and easy to try, and relatively safe. I recommend it only because it can reduce dry mouth as well as gum disease, throat infections, bad breath, and oral dysbiosis.


Green Tea – A True Superfood

When it comes to supporting the oral microbiome, one beverage requires special mention: green tea. Most widely known for its antioxidants and cardiovascular benefits, green tea contains polyphenols (dietary antioxidants) that serve as beneficial prebiotics for both the oral and intestinal microbiota. Studies show that drinking green tea regularly improves heart disease risk profiles and reduces the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease by up to 31%. xi  It also has benefits in preventing diabetes, metabolic syndrome and colon cancer. xii

But green tea also has numerous benefits for the oral and gut microbiome. Studies show that two cups of green tea daily improve the diversity of the salivary microbiome in healthy adults, and increases Ruminococci and Bifidobacteria in the gut as well as Roseburia, Feacalibacterium, and Eubacterium – which produce beneficial metabolites called short chain fatty acids (SCFAs). xiii

The medicinal properties of green tea likely stem from antioxidants known as catechins; to boost your daily intake of these powerful compounds, add a quarter teaspoon of matcha green tea powder—which is very high in catechinsxiv—to your daily cup of green tea.

Lab studies have confirmed that green tea inhibits the growth of oral bacteria.xv Likely as a result of this, studies also show that it reduces bad breath.xvi Swishing green tea around in your mouth before swallowing is a good way to add oral benefits to the many systemic benefits of this healthy beverage.


Oil Pulling and Tongue Scraping

There are a variety of other practices that can be beneficial to your oral microbiome. Oil pulling, in which you swish oil around in your mouth for about 5-10 minutes and then discard it, is an Ayurvedic practice that supports the oral microbiome. Ayurveda believes that oil pulling can prevent tooth decay, gum disease, and bad breath. Studies have confirmed that regular oil pulling with coconut oil is able to significantly reduce levels of bacteria in the saliva, and also reduce plaque levels, thus improving dental health and cutting down on the harmful bacteria that can lead to autoimmunity. xvii

Tongue scraping, another traditional technique, is also beneficial. This can be done with either with a toothbrush or with a tongue scraper and helps to clear excess bacteria from the tongue and removes the buildup of tongue coating, if present. Tongue scraping has been shown to improve periodontal markers and reduce markers of inflammation in the gum tissues. xviii

In Ayurveda, the tongue is a microcosm for the entire G.I. tract, so in that tradition, tongue scraping is believed to provide a gentle stimulation and “internal massage” to all the digestive organs.


Testing for and Treating Dysbiosis

Caring for the oral microbiome and preventing dental dysbiosis is important for helping keeping the immune system balanced. If you suspect you might have oral dysbiosis, look for the following clues: bad breath, gingivitis, tooth decay, or other periodontal diseases.

If you are asymptomatic but suffer from autoimmunity, it’s still a good idea to test your oral bacteria. Newer salivary tests for pathogenic bacteria such as P. gingivalis are available from companies like OralDNA and others – but talk to your dentist about whether such a test is right for you. If you do have high levels of potentially deleterious oral bacteria, consider using antimicrobial toothpastes such as Dentalcidin or PerioBiotic to help address the dysbiosis.

i M. Kilian et al., “The Oral Microbiome – An Update for Oral Healthcare Professionals,” British Dental Journal 221 (November 18, 2016): 657-666, https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.bdj.2016.865.

ii Priya Nimish Deo and Revati Deshmukh, “Oral Microbiome: Unveiling the Fundamentals,” Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology 23, no. 1 (January-April 2019): 122-128, https://doi.org/10.4103/jomfp.JOMFP_304_18. iii Elijah O. Oyetola et al., “Salivary Bacterial Count and its Implications on the Prevalence of Oral Conditions,” The Journal of Contemporary Dental Practice 20, no. 2 (February 1, 2019): 184-189, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31058633/.

iv Carol Perricone et al., “Porphyromonas gingivalis and Rheumatoid Arthritis,” Current Opinion in Rheumatology 31, no. 5 (September 2019): 517-524, https://doi.org/10.1097/BOR.0000000000000638.

v Eduardo Gómez-Bañuelos et al., “Rheumatoid Arthritis-Associated Mechanisms of Porphyromonas gingivalis and Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans,” Journal of Clinical Medicine 8, no. 9 (September 2019): 1309, https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm8091309.

vi Zebunnissa Memon et al., “An Orthodontic Retainer Preventing Remission in Celiac Disease,” Clinical Pediatrics (Philadelphia) 52, no. 11 (November 2013): 1034-1037, https://doi.org/10.1177/0009922813506254.

vii Kazumichi Abe et al., “Gut and Oral Microbiota in Autoimmune Liver Disease,” Fukushima Journal of Medical Science 65, no. 3 (January 9, 2020): 71-75, https://doi.org/10.5387/fms.2019-21.

viii Nikolaos G. Nikitakis, “The Autoimmunity-oral Microbiome Connection,” Oral Diseases 23, no. 7 (October 2017): 828-839, https://doi.org/10.1111/odi.12589.

ix Ashutosh K. Mangalam, Meeta Yadav, and Rjwardhan Yadav, “The Emerging World of Microbiome in Autoimmune Disorders: Opportunities and Challenges,” Indian Journal of Rheumatology 16, no. 1 (March 23, 2021): 57-72, https://doi.org/10.4103/injr.injr_210_20.

x Kilian, “The Oral Microbiome,” 657-666.

xi Shinichi Kuriyama, “The Relation between Green Tea Consumption and Cardiovascular Disease as Evidenced by Epidemiological Studies,” The Journal of Nutrition 138, no. 8 (August 1, 2008): 1548S-1553S, https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/138.8.1548S.

xii Sabu M. Chacko et al., “Beneficial Effects of Green Tea: A Literature Review,” Chinese Medicine 5 (April 6, 2010): 13, https://doi.org/10.1186/1749-8546-5-13.

xiii Xiaojie Yuan et al., “Green Tea Liquid Consumption Alters the Human Intestinal and Oral Microbiome,” Molecular Nutrition & Food Research 62, no. 12 (June 2018): 1800178, https://doi.org/10.1002/mnfr.201800178.

xiv David J. Weiss and Christopher R. Anderton, “Determination of Catechins in Matcha Green Tea by Micellar Electrokinetic Chromatography,” Journal of Chromatography A 1011, no. 1-2 (September 5, 2003): 173-180, https://doi.org/10.1016/s0021-9673(03)01133-6.

xv J. Steinmann et al., “Anti-infective Properties of Epigallocatechin-3-Gallate (EGCG), a Component of Green Tea,” British Journal of Pharmacology 168, no. 5 (March 2013): 1059-1073, https://doi.org/10.1111/bph.12009.

xvi Parth Lodhia et al., “Effect of Green Tea on Volatile Sulfur Compounds in Mouth Air,” Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology (Tokyo) 54, no. 1 (February 2008): 89-94, https://doi.org/10.3177/jnsv.54.89.

xvii Oghenekome Gbinigie et al., “Effect of Oil Pulling in Promoting Oro Dental Hygiene: A Systematic Review of Randomized Clinical Trials,” Complementary Therapies in Medicine 26 (June 2016): 47-54, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ctim.2016.02.011.

xviii Buket Acar et al., “Effects of Oral Prophylaxis Including Tongue Cleaning on Halitosis and Gingival Inflammation in Gingivitis Patients: A Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial,” Clinical Oral Investigations 23, no. 4 (April 2019): 1829-1836, https://doi.org/10.1007/s00784-018-2617-5.

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24 Dec

Ninja Barbie, a Shield to protect and overcome Pain!

How many of us have experienced pain in our lives? I dare say all of us! The pain of being excluded, the shame of rejection… those negative emotional barbs that we get handed by people throughout our journey (their pain and judgment). I am a transformation and performance coach, and to do my work, I needed to transform so I could walk the talk; I had to get to know my Ninja Barbie. The shield I had created to keep me safe to help me overcome my pain, that fierce inner warrior that would forge the way for me and help me survive another day!

As I started really understanding me, I realized that I was suffering from intense disconnection and separation from others. You see, in my story, I was “shamed” because of my divorce, my religion, my color, and my actions as a young child. For me to show up for my life, I built a resilience armour that would carry me through the most challenging times toward creating the life I have today. That shield is so aptly named Ninja Barbie.

The Gift of my Ninja Barbie

When I was in Ninja Barbie mode, I could get out of an emotional place and power forward. I could separate my home life (where I was in huge amounts of pain) and focus on my work life. My career was where I excelled, which made me feel worthy, fuelled my confidence, and provided what I needed to take care of my daughter and son. At work, I could channel my survival mode into focus; I was incredibly driven and learnt what I needed to avoid negative feedback, shaming or blame. I was living in a state of adrenalin. I was feeding off my stress hormone, which again fuelled my journey and career trajectory. Am I grateful for the Ninja Barbie protection that carried me and at times still slips into place? YES, I am for the following reasons:

  1. Helping me navigate the most painful period of my life
  2. Giving me the courage to RISE and face another day when all I wanted to do was lie down and not get up
  3. The determination to achieve my goals and more
  4. The ability to move through judgement and fear to survive and make a life for my children and me
  5. To carry my pain in a way that kept me moving forward.

Could the Ninja Barbie stay in place? The answer is NO. You see, the armour of my Ninja Barbie was slowly suffocating who I really am. I was surviving from day to day; I was not thriving. I was alone in a world filled with people. My pain seemed to be locked into my armour, and I was wearing it bravely, yet it was too heavy. I was starting to suffer mentally because living in a state of proving and scarcity is not a place of abundance and full potential; it’s not a place of joy and freedom. Living in my Ninja barbie was a place filled with anxiety, stress, and rigidity.

Taking off My Ninja Barbie; Releasing my Pain, Embracing my Freedom

I don’t believe it’s easy to lay down our armour when we have used it to stay safe for so long. Recently in a coaching session, I had a client ask me if she could use her sword in the “Arena.”(Where we show up and are seen for who we are) to protect herself. You see, we had been working on her transformation and her ability to be seen, be free and be herself. I shared with her that staying safe was something we needed to give ourselves through love and presence. When I am deeply connected with myself, my feelings, and my essence, I can recognise that interactions with others can be in the space of openness, honesty, generosity, and curiosity. My deep love for me first keeps me safe and allows me to empathise and connect with others. I can have the courage to communicate boundaries, accountability and also clarity. Why take off the armour?

  1. Under the armour, you are not able to connect with your emotions in a healthy way; you will struggle with love for yourself and love for others.
  2. Your armour will be a heavy weight to carry; it is forged with your shame and fear stories, and it is a hard exterior that can eventually take you into a very dark place.
  3. You will struggle to enjoy the feeling of deep human connection, trust, friendships, and love (our armour always makes things conditional!).
  4. You will struggle to be the ME you want to be because your armour will take you down coping behaviours that are never good for your mental and physical health.

Taking the armour off, ONE story at a time, Choosing YOU!

When I first realised my armour hampered me, I was stuck in a strange place. Am I not choosing ME by wearing my armour?  I think that is what we tell ourselves when we come from a place of fear and protection. Choosing me means taking power away from my armour; I choose to live to unlock my potential. I choose to really get to know ME and forgive me, accept my story, and connect with love.

How do we start?

  1. Remember who you really are, not the Ninja Barbie armour that has been your shield for so long.
  2. Understand your story, walk through it with love, honour your courage and love yourself deeply.
  3. Learn to be present and to disconnect the fear switch that triggers your armour. (I always imagine my armour activating like in the movie Transformers!)
  4. Trust that your inner self can navigate you through challenges.

Living a life of freedom to be you is worth it! I chose ME, and I am living a life of peace, love, and thriving, not simply surviving!


Christina E. Foxwell is the founder of Ignite Purpose where, over the past decade, she has supported leaders in their navigation of their teams and helped people find their purpose and flow. This has led to her supporting them in their own life-changing journeys to follow their passions, transform their lives, and grow into the people they were always meant to be. The modalities she uses in her work are: CBT, ACT, Mental Fitness, Performance Science, Behavioral Profiling, and Positive Intelligence.

With over 20 years of experience in HR, recruitment, consulting, training, coaching and executive leadership, Foxwell he has been on two global executive teams, and led a sales consulting team in Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Now, after realizing there was a missed opportunity in people and organizations, and the gap between people and performance, she coaches executive teams, CEOs, leaders and their team to develop their growth and impact their cultures and performance.
Foxwell is the author of four books. Her first two works are children’s books on emotional intelligence, The Adventures of Oscar the Pufferfish: Owning my “pop” and The Story of Astra the Unicorn Finding Her Belonging. Grow Me is a guide to growth. Her latest book, The Glass Angel, is a powerful look into transformation change and perseverance.

Her life’s journey began in Port Elizabeth, South Africa and ultimately landed her in Sydney, Australia. The road to where she is now was paved with hardships and turmoil. She experienced domestic violence, PTSD, and divorce before she found a path to healing and building a life of gratitude, forgiveness, and love.

In addition to her work, she also has many other passions including, painting, writing, teaching, coaching, and spending time with her family. Her most important roles are wife, mother, daughter, and grandmother of one.

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01 Oct

Calibrating Yourself to Oneness by Lee Harris

An Excerpt from Conversations with the Z’s, Book One by Lee Harris


Energy Intuitive Lee Harris has been receiving communication from his guides, the Z’s, for 24 years. These communications have allowed him to help hundreds of thousands around the world through his events, books, podcast, and monthly  “Energy Update” video forecasts.


Lee’s new book Conversations with the Z’s, Book One: The Energetics of the New Human Soul, offers a truly unique way of sharing the Z’s wisdom by channeling in conversation with psychotherapist Dianna Edwards, who describes her work as “listening to hear.” The questions Dianna asks allow for a crystal clear exploration of Lee’s method and a beautifully contemporary way of encountering and absorbing the wisdom transmitted from the Z’s.


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


# # #


Calibrating yourself to oneness reconnects you to everything. And we will tell you this: at the root of everything in your life — everything that you are working for, trying to overcome, trying to become — it is all about connection. Because to be alive as a human and to be enjoying your life, you feel connected. Now, think about the moments and the times in your life when you feel deep connection. Why is romantic love so heady to you? Because it creates a rush in the body, particularly in those early months, when you are calibrating yourself to another being who is helping you become more of yourself, who is helping you allow love through your system in an all-new way. That is a rush because you are deepening your experience of connection and you are doing it from the heart. So, everything you do in life is seeking or serving connection.


Now you may say, “Well, what about that time I spent sabotaging myself for three years?” Well, you were trying to shed some of the toxic dynamics and relationships that you either had imbibed in this life or came in with as a soul imprint to overcome so that you could then help others through them. And you were desperately trying to connect with the light through repetitively connecting with the dark, until you got to the point when you realized that connecting with the dark over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again hurts. It hurt you. And it put you at great risk, not just to your physical body, but to your soul. If the light goes out in your soul, there is no game left to play. The game is over then for a human being.


Why we are speaking to you about all of this is because connection is your driving force. Even if you think you are doing some very silly things in your life right now, if you really stop and wonder why you are doing them, you might find that what you are trying to connect with is a different way. But the only way you will connect with that different way is by making your repetitive habit so bad and feel so awful to you that the only way to go next is in the completely opposite direction. But in doing it repetitively, you are also trying to shed, clear, and detox energies that have been around you for perhaps many years, and it is now time to be done with them once and for all.

Connection is your driving force. Oneness is a place where connection always exists.


When you are living in a state of oneness, you can feel your connection to everything. This is why we want to remind all of you that no matter how much you are needed by your family, your children, other loved ones, or some emergency that you have going on in your life right now — and no matter whether you are wanting to give as much energy, time, and connection as possible to a person or a group you are looking after — you wither as a soul if you don’t also connect to what is important to you. You connecting to what is uniquely important to you is vital because then your life force grows. And when your life force grows, you have far more life force to give to others.


Even those of you who have a very tough job in your life right now — perhaps you are a caretaker, perhaps you are going through a health crisis with a loved one and it is very difficult on you and your family — it is vital that you take some time that is just for you, even if only for five or ten minutes a day. That means stepping away from all the relationships, all the duties, all the responsibilities, and doing something that lights you up from the inside. Perhaps it might be writing some words like “What does my soul want to tell me today?” and seeing what comes through. Perhaps it might be listening to a song that you love that moves through your body and unlocks emotions and thoughts, and frees you up from the inside. Because remember, music is an alchemical energy that you imbibe. It is no different from homeopathy. Music is an energetic healer, and it moves through your body from head to toe and it unlocks different parts of you. It is very soothing. So, find the music that works for you. Find out if dancing in your living room works for you. Find that friend who you can call for five, ten minutes, who is going to reconnect you to the light.


These are tumultuous times on Earth, yes. But they are tumultuous on the lower dimensions. The higher dimensions are coming in higher than ever. And it is going to be your path to connect with them more than you ever have before. And then, in the case of most of you reading this, you will become a powerful conduit for those energies on Earth.


# # #

Lee Harris is the author of Conversations with the Z’s, Book One and Energy Speaks. A gifted energy intuitive and channeler, he leads a vibrant online community that reaches hundreds of thousands of people every month. His acclaimed online events, members community The Portal, and top 50 spirituality podcast Impact the World are adventures into the deepest aspects of living, loving, and awakening. Visit him online at http://www.LeeHarrisEnergy.com.

Excerpted from the book from Conversations with the Z’s, Book One: The Energetics of the New Human Soul. Copyright ©2022 by Lee Harris. Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.

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20 Oct

Transformation through Bereavement

An Excerpt from Extraordinary Awakenings by Steve Taylor


A famous story in Buddhism is the parable of the mustard seeds. A young woman named Kisa Gotami was grieving the death of her baby son. She carried his body from house to house, pleading for some medicine to bring him back to life. One of her neighbors advised her to go see the Buddha, who asked her to bring him a handful of mustard seeds. The only condition was that, in the Buddha’s words, “The mustard seeds must be taken from a house where no one has lost a child, husband, parent, or friend.”


Kisa Gotami returned to her village and went from house to house again. But of course, she was unable to collect any mustard seeds, since every family had suffered a bereavement. By the end of the day, the mother realized the impermanence of life and the inevitability of death. As the Buddha expressed it, “The life of mortals in this world is troubled and brief and combined with pain. For there is not any means by which those that have been born can avoid dying…Not from weeping nor from grieving will anyone obtain peace of mind; on the contrary, his pain will be the greater and his body will suffer.”


This parable is so powerful not just because it illustrates the universality of death and bereavement but also because it suggests their transformational effects. Kisa Gotami’s acceptance of death transformed her perspective on life. According to the parable, she became a disciple of the Buddha and was his first female follower to attain enlightenment.


Bereavement is the most common type of severe trauma that human beings experience. Most of us have never experienced the trauma of combat or imprisonment, but — as the parable reminds us — every single one of us has experienced the trauma of bereavement. (If you are young this might not be the case, but not for long.) When people die in old age, it seems natural and right. It may even seem like a blessing, if a person has become severely ill or mentally impaired. But when people die before their time, particularly in childhood, it seems incredibly tragic and unjust. Understandably, some people may never recover from the grief of their bereavement and spend the rest of their lives in a state of depression and trauma.

Post-traumatic Growth and Bereavement

Precisely because bereavement is such a traumatic experience, it holds enormous spiritual potential. When a person close to us dies, everything changes radically. Our seemingly stable and orderly lives are thrown into disarray, as if a tidal wave has swept through and washed away every structure. Suddenly the world seems an unfamiliar place, pervaded by emptiness and loss. Our seemingly stable sense of self is broken down. We are no longer sure of who we are, since our identity was bound up with the person we have lost. All our beliefs, hopes, and ambitions seem meaningless and dissolve away.


And it’s because bereavement has such a dramatic and powerful effect that, like imprisonment, it is so closely associated with spiritual transformation. We have already seen — for example, in the cases of Adrian Troy and Ed Little in the last chapter — that acceptance is an important factor in Transformation through Turmoil (TTT). Understandably, many people find the death of loved ones difficult to accept and adjust to (particularly in cases of tragic early death) and so don’t move beyond grief into growth and transformation. But when people do acknowledge and accept the death of a loved one, the transformational effect is usually very powerful.


When psychologists began to research post-traumatic growth (PTG) in the late 1980s, they quickly recognized that bereavement is one of its most significant sources. In one of the first studies of PTG in 1986, the psychologist Stephen Shuchter studied a group of widows and widowers who had lost their partners about two years earlier. Most of them felt that they could see life from a wider perspective, that they were less affected by trivial worries and more appreciative of important things. They felt that they had become more sensitive, more self-reliant, more open, and more spiritual in their everyday lives. Similarly, in a 1998 study of 312 people who had lost loved ones about a year previously, psychologists found that around a third of the group felt more mature and confident in their lives and that they had better communication skills and improved relationships.


Research has shown that these benefits can occur even with the most tragic of deaths, including the loss of children. In a study of bereaved parents, the psychologist Dennis Klass found that, following a period of adjustment and acceptance, many of them felt that their lives had become more authentic and meaningful. Some described a process of spiritual transformation, with an awareness of “connections with that which transcended the physical and biological world, and with their perception of an underlying order in the world.” Similarly, in 2002 psychologists studied a group of parents whose children had been murdered. Even in these terrible circumstances, the researchers found that for some people the bereavement had led to profound personal growth, with increased self-reliance, compassion, and inner strength, along with a greater appreciation of life.


# # #


Steve Taylor, PhD, is the author of Extraordinary Awakenings and many other bestselling books. He’s senior lecturer in psychology at Leeds Beckett University and the chair of the Transpersonal Psychology Section of the British Psychological Society. Steve’s articles and essays have been published in over 100 academic journals, magazines, and newspapers and he blogs for Scientific American and Psychology Today. Visit him online at www.StevenMTaylor.com.


Adapted from the book from Extraordinary Awakenings: When Trauma Leads to Transformation. Copyright ©2021 by Steve Taylor. Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.

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30 Apr

Are You Willing to Choose Peace?

An Excerpt from The Full Spirit Workout by Kate Eckman

A friend recently said to me, “I just want to feel at peace.”

“I understand,” I said. “That is the ultimate goal for all of us. Are you willing to choose peace?”

“Yes,” she said. Then I saw her eyes light up, like, Wow, that was easy!

And it is that easy. If you want love, choose to be in love, starting with yourself. I believe if peace and love are what we truly want, we will choose peace and love. Oftentimes, we think we want them but are still stuck in past wounds that make us feel more at home and “safe” in chaos, lack, and trauma. But just like we can decide to be willing to stretch before a workout because we know it will make us perform better and avoid injury, we can be willing to choose thoughts that empower us to get out of our comfort zone. That leads us into the life that’s waiting for us to claim it — a life where we get to live in our divine perfection.

I don’t think you have to move to a different city, change careers, start a new relationship, adopt a new workout routine, or go vegan to stretch your comfort zone, although I highly recommend all of that. It can be as simple (not easy, mind you, but simple) as choosing to look in the mirror and notice something you love about your body rather than thinking, Gosh, I’m looking older or Ugh, I have stomach rolls.

Say to yourself, I am willing to feel love, peace, and joy, instead of this. Make that a daily practice, and I promise you will start to think, look, feel, and be your most glorious self.

When we stretch our comfort zones, we automatically get to discover our greatness, our highest self. We find our true essence and desires, naturally attracting what lights us up and gives our lives meaning and purpose. Simply put, it is healing to stretch. And when we are willing to stretch, the universe responds to even our slightest invitation to assist us in our efforts. We are never alone. We are always cocreating.

If you’ve ever started a new business or family, I’m guessing it wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t painless. (If you are a parent, you are my own personal hero!) But I’ll bet that allowing yourself to expand your personal boundaries and devote your most precious resource — time — to your cherished new venture opened up the space you needed to take on this exciting challenge.

When I recently took on a new project outside my comfort zone, I was able to keep taking steps forward because I first allowed myself to experience my heavy feelings and cry to a supportive friend. My tears washed the space clear for me to express myself. I’m learning that one of the worst things we can do is to pretend uncomfortable feelings like worry, stress, sadness, fear, and discomfort don’t exist — or that we’re somehow too precious, too positive, or too evolved to feel something other than pleasant feelings. When we are in that place of loneliness, fear, sadness, and discomfort, it’s important not to try to jump right to gratitude or “positivity.” Sometimes crying and acknowledging how much things suck, or how heavy our feelings weigh on us, put us on the fast train to returning home to ourselves, where appreciation and gratitude occur naturally. This certainty offers me peace, just as it did during that uncertain time.

The period of forced isolation we all experienced during the pandemic was a deep stretch for all of us, and while seclusion could feel uncomfortable, I also noticed benefits. For example, many of us learned, or relearned, how little we really need. It helped me remember to be more simple and minimal in my day-to-day living. We also had more time to reflect on and challenge old ways of thinking — giving us spiritual fitness workouts. I brainstormed new ways to help clients and, in turn, myself. I saw old problems in a new light and was able to devote energy to discovering new ways of being because, quite simply, why not?

And just like physical exercise has cumulative effects over time, so does spiritual fitness. Once we start stepping out of our comfort zone, it gets easier. We become more and more comfortable with our own discomfort. Awesome, right?


# # #


Kate Eckman is the author of The Full Spirit Workout and a Columbia University–certified executive leadership coach. She leverages her experience as a well-known communications, performance, and mindfulness expert, accomplished entrepreneur, and elite athlete to equip leaders with the tools, methodology, and energetic boost they need to excel. Visit her online at http://www.kateeckman.tv.


Excerpted from the book from The Full Spirit Workout. Copyright ©2021 by Kate Eckman. Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.

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30 Apr

Claiming Your Gifts as an Empath

An Excerpt from Becoming an Empowered Empath by Wendy DeRosa


Do you feel other people’s energy — whether they are stressed, anxious, angry, or in need? You may even sense that you absorb their energy. When you enter a room, you can pick up on the energy present, how people are feeling, or what might be happening. You’re likely sensitive to what’s occurring around you — including injustice, political divisions, the effects of climate change, the danger of extinction of animals, and more — and to the pain of others in your community and in our world. You also sense the powerful energies that are emerging to bring about change.

This is the experience of living as an empath, a person who is highly sensitive and, as a result, feels and absorbs other people’s energy, emotions, and even physical symptoms. Empaths experience their world through their intuition and a felt sense of people and situations. They might not be able to define why they feel the way they do, but they sense that they are impacted by other people’s energy.

Empathy has become a popular topic recently, much of it inspired by the work of researcher and author Brené Brown. Empathy is a person’s capacity to understand or relate to what another person is experiencing. Brown describes empathy as a skill that can bring people together and make them feel included.

While it is natural to feel the energy around you and to connect with other people’s emotions, problems arise when you absorb these energies or take on these emotions as your own. You can likely recall an experience when you moved from attentive listening (hearing how someone is feeling about an experience) to taking on someone else’s experience (feeling it as if it were happening to you). People generally love talking to empaths because of this. They feel so much better and describe themselves as “relieved” afterward. That’s because the empath in their life just took on dealing with their problems for them!

Problems arise from being overly empathic. This experience of taking on the feelings and experiences of another person as your own can be described as “merging” with another person. It is helpful to imagine empathic nature on a spectrum: on one end, empathy and understanding operate with detachment, and on the other, being empathic and intuitive leads to merging.

For empaths, merging occurs because they are not fully present, or “inhabiting,” their own energy body — particularly the lower body and lower chakras, energetic centers within the body. (When I refer to “energy” or “energy body,” I am referring to the energetic field that is in and around your physical body. In the next chapter, we’ll discuss in detail the subtle energy body and the chakras and how they relate to our empathic intuition.) Not being fully present in your lower body area leaves a vacancy for other people’s energy to take over. Some of the physical and emotional symptoms of taking on other people’s energy include stress, agitation, depletion, and feeling overwhelmed and overstimulated. Depression, digestive issues, migraines, allergies, and other physical illnesses may also manifest. This pattern of taking on other people’s energy often starts in childhood, before one learns to maintain emotional or energetic boundaries. Perhaps as a child you were told that you were “too sensitive”? (And maybe you still hear this today?) You may have learned to take on other people’s energy as a way to help them or to calm them down. In fact, you likely developed this impulse to merge with others as a way to seek love and intimacy and to keep yourself safe.

Being overly empathic is common when a child is raised in a household with unclear boundaries, projected emotions, suppression of self, or no feeling of safety or belonging. Children learn to survive by prioritizing other people’s needs and energy while disconnecting from their self and their own needs.

These survival and coping mechanisms take root in the first chakra area of the body and, once formed, create energetic imprints in your body that can lead to unhealthy patterns in a number of areas in your life — your health, your relationships, your work, and more. Largely unconscious, this response becomes ingrained as a default setting, influencing your worldview and how you interact with family, friends, and coworkers. You may not intend to absorb the energy around you, but your subtle energy body is responding in the only way it knows to keep you safe. In addition, Western culture often views sensitivity as a weakness or a liability, so as children we’re taught to avoid, dismiss, or suppress our feelings and needs, ultimately invalidating our intuitive sense. This causes us to disconnect from ourselves and our inner guidance and creates a lack of trust in our instincts and intuition. The disconnection is not just mental, emotional, or energetic; it is spiritual as well, sometimes referred to as being disconnected from one’s Soul.

Though you may have tried different methods to heal these patterns — perhaps therapy, workshops, self-help books, or various spiritual practices — you likely found that these tools alone were not enough to shift lifelong patterns or to help you set and hold healthy boundaries.

To stop taking on other people’s energy requires not just an understanding of your physical body and symptoms but also an understanding of your energetic body. The lower chakras are the main power centers in the energetic anatomy. They house the primary conditioning for every human being’s survival imprints, coping mechanisms, personality traits, and personal power. They are responsible for how you relate to yourself, others, and the world. A “reparenting” of the lower chakras (nurturing yourself and inhabiting your energy body) will help you shift from being overly sensitive to empowered.

These lower chakras are closely tied to the empathic power of intuition, feeling, and self-expression. Throughout Western culture and history, these aspects have been subjected to collective and societal shaming. The shaming of sensitivity, vulnerability, truth, emotions, and creativity has limited the power of our true selves, causing us to suppress our true feelings, true voice, true being, and true sense of belonging.

Empaths need not be victims to the world around them. I know it can seem that way when you are feeling everyone’s energy, but when you feel triggered by another individual’s energy, think of it as an opportunity to address the deeper layers within you that need to be seen, healed, and brought into alignment. The good news is that empaths are awakening and learning about their empathic nature so they can heal their early-life wounds and fully express their gifts.

Your gift as an empath is that you feel what’s true. You are connected to the subtle and can see beneath the layers. By expanding your capacity to embody your empathic gifts, you become uniquely equipped to show others how to experience their authentic feelings and help heal the planet. This is a critical step at this time: we need empowered empaths who can give voice to what is unspoken, bring to light what is hidden, and heal what is suppressed.

With the proper framework, empaths can transform the effects of their past and come to understand the true nature of their empathic power. You will finally be able to show up with your gifts in your relationships, work, and other parts of your life. You will find that it’s possible to feel nourished and to thrive as an empowered empath. You will be able to restore your energetic boundaries and align with your true light and power. This is a most profound experience of self-love and is essential for establishing an uncompromising and loving connection with yourself, regardless of external circumstances or challenges and throughout your daily activities and interactions with others.


It is time to fully express and embody your empathic intuition and power.


# # #


Wendy De Rosa is the author of Becoming an Empowered Empath. The founder of The School of Intuitive Studies, she has been helping people develop intuition and experience personal transformation for over two decades. Visit her online at http://www.SchoolOfIntuitiveStudies.com.


Excerpted from the book from Becoming an Empowered Empath. Copyright ©2021 by Wendy De Rosa. Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.




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05 Feb

Role of Communication: Friendship v/s Relationship

Post by: Shweta Gautam

Communication is an important part of our life. I believe without communication, humans are no less than animals. The power to think and express our thoughts is solely what separates us from them. But, do we understand the impact, effect, and role of communication concerning the people in our lives?

We all have heard, read, and studied about the importance of communication in our lives. Though I have always seen people talking about communication from a professional perspective. I rarely see people share their views or rather initiate a conversation about the importance of communication in our personal lives. I don’t see people talking about communication with family, friends, and relationships. But, I do know it is extremely important to have it.

As the literal definition of communication reads, “Communication is a two-way process. It includes a sender and a receiver”. Hence, it is important to analyse communication from the personal front as much as we do it for our professional world.

My experiences about communication in both my friendships and relationship have taught me a lot in life. I now resonate and understand the similarities, the differences, and the potential impact it has on an individual. Having friends who understand your relationship and a partner who understands your friendships is a true blessing in disguise. Not all are fortunate to find both at the same time. While I have been lucky to have found friends at an early stage of life, my experience with love has been bitter-sweet. And as I’ll recite the stories of the two important aspects of my life, that have given a lot to me, I am sure you all will relate to my personal experiences at some or the other level. So, let’s begin with what came first – friendship.


Role of Communication: Friendship

My experience with friendship began very early in my life. And, I feel I am quite fortunate that I have my first friends as my present friends too, i.e. almost 21 years later I am still friends with the very first people I called my ‘friends’.

I have always been the girl who is too shy and uninterested in talking to strangers but once we know each other I am an unstoppable chatterbox, quite literally. I met both my childhood friends in my school. Because our fathers were their childhood friends, all three of our fathers happened to send their children to the same school. And, we practically carry forward the legacy of their friendship. We went to the same schools, went to the same institutes, attended each other’s birthday parties, shared our lunch during the school recess, and created a lot more memories together every day without actually taking any effort in doing so. The seriousness of our friendship can be measured from the fact that the three of us don’t have a single picture together from our childhood. Because we were too busy living in the moment.

Two girls and a boy sitting together and eating lunch raised some frownings. Especially for our guy friend, he was teased by his friends for having lunch with two girls. Well, I don’t blame them, the credit for the mentality goes to our society.

After sharing almost every big milestone, my friendships with both of them has only grown stronger. Moreover, if someone matters to me, I’ll do all that I can to keep them in my life. And, communication is the very first step to that. Growing up together, we have had our misunderstandings.

As children, the arguments were as mere as misplacing each other’s things or maybe snatching something or just random fights. As teenagers, it was the typical adrenaline rush that acted upon and led us to fight on things that didn’t matter. Most of the time, the fights then happened because of the people who are not even a part of our lives today. And, as adults, we have had some serious issues. Sometimes it is our respective relationships and sometimes it was a pure miscommunication. Because text messages are so strong today to create any misunderstanding and not convey the right information.

Having both a girl and a boy as close friends teaches you a lot about life. These two people beside me, I have never felt the need to search for friendships outside. Yes, I do have other remarkable people who I can call friends too. But, who are your true friends? The names you remember in the most adverse situations. Well, these two are exactly that to me.

It wouldn’t be wrong to say that our friendship would have ended a long time ago if we have not been vocal about our feelings. Our first school only had a middle school education. Therefore, I was separated from my best friend. She went to a different high school. And, the guy friend and I luckily went to the same high school.

On the first day of the new school, it was the first time in 14 years that I wasn’t going to see my best friend waiting for me in the school outside the class. Though, at least we had the same institute to spend the other half of the day together.

A new place meant new people. It meant new friends. But, none of us ever saw our new friends as a threat to our old bonds. We knew it was irreplaceable. And that is the very essence of true friendship for us.

A true friend will understand the how and why behind your deeds and will never question you. If they find it wrong, they will stop and guide you for sure. And, today it’s been 21 years since the three of us have been friends. We have had a lot of people come and go. But, irrespective of whether we meet or not, whether we talk daily or not, whether we celebrate occasions together or not, we are connected at hearts.

Adulthood is filled with breaking our expectations. It is the time of life that teaches us some of the hardest lessons. And, one such truth to life is – you don’t get to spend your life with your friends. You spend your life with your partner.

Therefore, if there is one thing that strong and real friendships don’t rely on – it’s communication. We don’t talk to each other daily rather we do it rarely. But, even then we know we will be there to double each other’s joy and half the sorrows when needed. We know that we have a lot of people coming and going in our lives, but we will always find each other besides when in need.

Real friendships rely on trust, understanding, and respect. They are all about picking up from the same place where we left it last time, with the same emotion and thrill.

And, it is not only my childhood friends, as I mentioned I have been fortunate in the matter of friendships. Both my girlfriends from my graduation and post-graduation years are proof of that. Ever since I received my graduate degree, I only met her twice and we are perfectly strong without regular communication. We barely talk on phones, we wish each other on occasions, we support and celebrate each other’s win on social media with a simple share and as a friend, this is everything we expect from each other.

I am not the kind of person who can be kept within boundaries. And hence, I prefer being friends with people who understand that as we grow and move forward in life, we meet new people as well. But, meeting new people doesn’t mean forgetting the old ones. Every single person I have ever called a friend resides inside my heart with many strong and beautiful memories, some bitter ones too. But, in the end, they are all my experiences and my positive outlook on these experiences makes me the woman I am today.


Role of Communication: Relationship

Now since you know my experience with friendships, Let’s continue to the most important aspect of my life.

I am an old-fashioned lover when it comes to romantic relationships. Probably this is the reason why my present relationship is the only relationship I have ever been in. And, to my belief, it will be the only relationship I’ll have.

My love story might rather sound like a movie. But, while I prefer my friends to understand me even without any regular or daily communication, I have a contrary opinion about communication with respect to a relationship. I believe that as much as relationships require love, trust, and loyalty, communication is the fourth pillar that makes it strong.

How am I the right person to advise you on anything about a relationship? Well, we have been together for almost 7 years now. And to top that, we are in a long-distance relationship.

Told you, it sounds like a movie. We met on Facebook while we were in high school. Living in two different cities that we didn’t even knew exist. 7 years down the line – in a long-distance relationship- both of us have learned a lot about each other, about love. And, one of the most important lessons is, if you don’t communicate with your partner, you can’t have a relationship going smoothly.

Whether it’s an LDR or a normal relationship if you don’t speak your feelings, you are ultimately risking your relationship and your well-being. Because, when things matter and you keep them inside, they bother you like hell. They can get onto your mental health. I have been there and I have felt that. And, the only way to deal with it is to be vocal about your feelings.

Being in a long-distance relationship, trust issues, jealousy, possessiveness are some of the factors that are sure to come, you simply cannot resist it. And, they are sure to come when you know there are a lot of people waiting for you both to break up. So, how do you deal with all the insecurities and that am-I-not-worth-it feeling? Well, you let your partner know how you are feeling, you let them know what’s going inside your head and heart.

But, is that so easy? Is it so easy to just call and speak out every word? No, it isn’t. While I am the person who believes in talking out to untangle the knots in a relationship, my partner wasn’t this expressive always. As a writer, expression of thoughts is an embedded trait of your personality. But, my partner is the 360 degree opposite to me. He is quiet, reserved, take things to his heart, prefers to keep them inside to not “bother” anybody with his perception, and chooses to communicate when things are completely out of his powers.

It is a fun and learn ride when you are head over heels in love with someone opposite to you, stays 200 km away from you, meets you once in 6 months but loves you more than anything in his world. It has taken me 7 years to make him comfortable with communicating himself especially when I do something that bothers him. After all, we are all humans and mistakes are a part of our existence.

The one secret behind every successful relationship is that it has touch rock bottoms and still survived. We had the worst phase of our long-distance relationship about 2 years ago. This was the time when we felt it was all over and we have lost each other. We even did this “final talk” before parting ways. But, even if life screws you, it always has a backup plan too. Our back up plan was communication. Being away from each other, we didn’t have anything else in our hands. The only thing we could do was talk about the unprecedented times. Hence, we decided to not call it quits and stay together for the sake of the beautiful past we had, for the sake of the potential future we had planned. And, we stuck through it. While a lot of people did everything in their power to separate us, we had them failed at every attempt all because we were up, front, and clear that we wanted to stay together, talk to each other and get through it.

The worst and the best part of the entire scenario was we dealt with all of it from the distance. It gave us this very important lesson of “whatever is meant to be will be yours”. Though, I have a different perspective on that. I believe we have lived it all and will live for a few more years before we finally seal the deal with a kiss because we want to be together.

Every time we are asked about our relationships, the response to being in a long-distance relationship is just this thing – Is he/she loyal? While we always answer the question with a prideful yes, we know this question isn’t leaving us for the next 2-3 years at least. That is how long we plan to take it forward as a long-distance relationship.

My relationship with my man is the most beautiful thing about my life. It is the very reason why I am a professional writer today. I am the artist (writer) and he is my muse forever. I began writing as a way to express my feelings to him. His love, even from the distance, has me bloomed into the woman I am today. Once he was this quiet and not-preferring to communicate kind of a person but seven years down the line, I am happy to admit he has finally begun to be vocal and open about his feelings.

Communication is the strongest pillar of any romantic relationship. While we expect the other person to know us better than ourselves, we often forget that building that bond and level of intimacy takes time. As I mentioned, I am an old school but a hopeful romantic. I fantasize a lot about dreamy getaways but at the same time, I know our reality of the present as well, which is nothing but distance. Hence, while we are working every moment to make this relationship a success, while we are hopeful about our future as a couple, we stay grounded to our reality. We are aware that we still have time to reach there, and along with love, trust, and loyalty, communication is the fourth wheel of our vehicle. And, we can’t lose either of them to not just reach the destination but enjoy the journey as well. After all, we want a good love story to recite to our babies in the future.


This is what words do to you, once you begin, it’s hard to stop. Well, we have finally reached the destination of this article. For me, the bottom line of communication for love and friendship with respect to my personal experience is:

“True friendships can survive with or without daily communication but true love requires communication to survive.”

Shweta is a Lifestyle and Wellness blogger and writer. She provides writing services for businesses and coaches in the niche. When not working, she is usually found feeding her passion for braids. She is also an English language enthusiast. Follow her on Instagram to know more about her and her business.

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10 Jan

Now You Can Live a Spark-filled Life

Guest Post by Stephanie James

What does it mean to live a “spark-filled” life?  It means being lit up from the inside, learning how to befriend yourself and make yourself a priority in your own life, and it means being fully alive and living your life full of authenticity, purpose and passion.

But how do we get there? We’ve all heard the expression, “Just be your own best friend!” but after 30 years in the mental health and personal development field, I know, it just isn’t that easy.  It truly starts with the art of learning to befriend yourself first.

Just imagine when you meet a new friend.  You don’t instantly trust them with your deepest, darkest secrets, nor do you automatically feel you can rely on them to be there for you when times get tough. A friendship like that takes time to cultivate.  The same is true when you are growing a relationship with yourself. You have to begin by being someone that you can rely on; to know that you have your own back and will show up for yourself when you need to.

A great way to do this is to establish a morning routine that is focused on self-care.  Use the first hour or half hour of your day to exercise, meditate, and write in a gratitude journal. Write the things you are thankful for each day, even if they are small and seem the same each day. We can be thankful for our warm bed, having hot water in the shower, and having food to eat. This doesn’t have to be big things. Then, when you are finished, put your hand on your heart and allow yourself to marinate on these good feelings.  By focusing on these feelings, you are actually telling your brain, that likes to purge information unless it is useful for our survival, “Hey! Pay attention! This is important! File this!”

Make this sacred time. I use a wall calendar to mark off when I show up for myself like this and instead of crossing off the day, I put a heart on the calendar. It is wonderful to see a full month filled with hearts and see how I have been truly loving to myself. When you show up for yourself each morning in this way, you begin to build a relationship with yourself; you begin to build trust with yourself and can begin to rely on yourself to have your best interest in mind.

I have worked with hundreds of people who find the simple act of establishing a morning self-care routine truly transformative.  It is one of the least selfish things you can do.  By making yourself a priority and taking care of yourself, you are giving to yourself in a way that will create more resiliency, calm, and well-being and you will be sharing with others from a place of fulness, rather than from a place of lack.

The next thing, I find that is really important in igniting your sparks, is to take time to truly explore what it is that lights you up! One of the ways I encourage clients to explore this, actually might seem a bit counter-intuitive at first, but it is amazingly helpful.  I encourage people to first get in touch with what their limiting beliefs are that prevent them from living the kind of “spark-filled” life that they would like to have. We often don’t realize that our words and actions are being driven by these unconscious beliefs, that are often pick up in childhood when we were in theta brain wave state and we took others opinions of us to be the truth. These beliefs can go so underground, that we don’t even realize what they are, we just know the outward manifestation (such as, I don’t have the job, relationship, self-esteem, etc. that I desire in my life.)

The way to begin “unearthing” these limiting beliefs, is to grab your journal and write a list of the areas in your life: relationship, career, finances, friendships, health and fitness, body image, spirituality, and self-concept.  Now, write down where you see yourself in all of these areas in one column and in the next, write down where you would like to be. When you look at each area, begin to notice the beliefs that come up in-between these two columns.  I worked with a man whose father had told him as a child, “Rich people are really unhappy!” Without realizing this, my client had internalized his father’s words and they had become a self-limiting belief that had kept him from being truly wealthy. Subconsciously, he had adopted the belief that if he were to become rich, then he would also become unhappy. When he became aware of that limiting belief, he then had the power to change it.

Now the fun part.  Take each of your limiting beliefs, and on a totally separate page, write down what you would like to believe about yourself instead and put a couple steps of action underneath each. An example would be:

“I am healthy and fit.”

  1. I work out 30 minutes per day.
  2. I eat healthy and nutritious foods.

This then becomes an Affirmation Action Plan that you read out loud to yourself each day that begins to prime your mindset and change your belief structure. Research tells us it takes 21-30 days for something to become a habit; that’s why so many exercise plans and diets are 30-day plans. In 30 days, your brain begins to automate the information and it becomes easier and easier to follow through (and believe.)

Lastly, one of things that can help you ignite the sparks within yourself, is to write out a list of the things that bring you pleasure. With all that is going on in the world today, it is easy to get distracted and forget some of the simple things that bring joy to your life.  I have clients begin their list with bringing in all of their senses; such as, “What tastes bring me pleasure? What smells bring me pleasure? What sights bring me pleasure? Etc.” As you begin to write your list, let yourself marinate on the good feelings that arise.  When we hold up images in our mind, our mind experiences them as happening “Now”; just as when we are thinking about the future and we feel anxious- it’s not happening now, but physiologically we are experiencing it as “Now.” The same is true for our pleasurable memories.

Let yourself write as many things as you can think of, utilizing all of your senses.  The first morning’s sip of coffee, petting my dog Jewels, and opening the curtains in the morning so the light floods my house, are all simple but wonderful pleasures in my life. It is also a principal in physics that whatever you focus on expands. What you focus on, you will notice more of it. When you focus on noticing what lights you up, you will find yourself feeling more illuminated internally.

The spark is truly who we are inside; our true essence. Sometimes we just have to do a little excavation to let that light truly shine through.  Through befriending yourself, rewiring negative beliefs, and focusing on what truly brings you pleasure, you will be well on your way to experiencing greater well-being and creating a more meaningful, spark-filled life.


A seasoned psychotherapist, a dynamic public speaker, published author, and filmmaker, Stephanie James delivers her message in a powerful way to help others find their own internal sparks and create their best lives at the next level. Nominated for Fort Collins Woman of The Year in 2014 and a graduate of the University of Denver, Stephanie has an unrelenting commitment to help others ignite their best lives and to become the best versions of themselves.

The Spark with Stephanie James is a world-wide weekly radio and podcast created to help you live your best life. Her guests are luminaries in the fields of psychology, inspiration and motivation, science, entrepreneurialism, and more!  

Her book, The Spark, Igniting Your Best Life, is available on Amazon. A compelling and inspiring book, The Spark is an excellent guide.  Step by step, Stephanie James shows how to examine beliefs that don’t serve us, ways to develop more authentic and rewarding relationships (including with ourselves), and how to approach each day with zest. 

Stephanie has a passion for connecting with people from all walks of life and continues to fulfill her personal mission to bring as much love and healing to the world as possible. Her soon to be released film, When Sparks Ignite, is about the challenges we all face and how those challenges can actually become the match point that ignite something amazing within us that then can become our gift to the world. 


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24 Nov

The Grief Path: Mourning the Love of Your Life

by Barbara Abercrombie, author of The Language of Loss:
Poetry and Prose for Grieving and Celebrating the Love of Your Life

I thought I knew about grief. I had been through the death of my parents. I certainly knew how much grief could hurt, how it could knock you flat like a wave sneaking up behind you. The difference is that when you’re an adult and a parent dies, you go back to your own life. When your spouse or partner dies you can’t do this, he or she was your life.

There’s no way to prepare for this kind of grief.  There’s no way to imagine what it’s like when the person you’ve loved and shared your life with vanishes. No way to comprehend the long journey ahead of you. How do you find a path for it? Can there even be a path through grief? And where can it lead?

With the first step into this new, unwanted future, I discovered the busyness of the newly bereaved – the necessity of things to be done. Decisions for a service and burial, an obituary to write, miles of paperwork, juggling a stepfamily, my own family, and friends. Then the service was over, family went home, many friends went back into couples, thank you notes were written, the paper work got done, and I felt more alone than I’ve ever been in my whole life. There was no path, only getting through it day by day, sometimes hour by hour.

One of my daughters thought I should join a grief group, which sounded like an oxymoron. My grief felt too singular, too deranged for a group. A stepdaughter wanted me to move out of the house so it could be sold. Blended families can add another layer of grief.

Reading and writing have always been my way through bad times. In the echoing silence of the months after my husband died, I looked to poetry and stories for solace. I wanted company –  poets and writers who had lost the love of their life and could put the chaos into words for me. “Help me. Remind me why I’m here,” is the final line of a poem by Kim Addonizio that I read over and over during those first few months I was a widow. This poem said exactly what I was feeling but couldn’t say to anyone, and though I wept every time I read it, I felt I wasn’t alone. The writer of this poem knew exactly what I was going through. That was comfort.

Mark Doty wrote in his memoir that while grieving for his partner he learned that “Being in grief, it turns out, is not unlike being in love.” I wrote pages and pages in my journal about my husband, us, our life – lovestruck as well as griefstruck. I started writing a memoir about his final year. I talked to him, not only on paper and in my head but also out loud. I would go into his closet and touch his shirts; his shoes made me cry. I couldn’t stand silence, yet music – whether country or opera – was too emotional to listen to, so I kept talk radio on day and night. When I was writing and I heard someone say on the radio the same word I had just written, I thought my husband was trying to reach me in code.  Hope. Voice. Time. Self. Paper. I made lists of the words and tried to turn them into poems.

Jack Gilbert wrote a poem about his belief that his wife came back as the neighbor’s Dalmation.  Jan Richardson wrote in her memoir that the sudden appearance of sparrows signaled her dead husband was sending her a sign. Doriannne Laux ended a poem with a plea: “Give me a sign if you can see me./I’m the only one here on my knees.”  Reading these poets and writers made me feel less crazy for thinking my dead husband was sending me messages in code via the radio. 

How do we get through this time, with or without signs from our beloveds?  What we can’t see in the beginning is that there is indeed a path – most likely twisted and full of sharp turns and potholes, but one that takes us forward.  Sometimes my path was a sidewalk; I walked my dog for hours every day covering the same territory. I went through the motions of living my life – yoga classes and inviting friends over for potlucks, going back to teaching, but I wasn’t myself and it didn’t feel like my life.

I realized that time was pushing my husband into the past, further and further away, but I wasn’t ready to let him go. I kept writing, I kept reading. I wasn’t ready to let go of my grief; it kept me connected to him. Writing about him kept him in the room. I continued looking for poetry and memoir for solace, and also to justify feeling narcissistic in my grief, because the writers and poets I found were just as grief obsessed as I was, and grief after all is about the griever.

I found company in Hafiz who wrote “Don’t surrender your loneliness/So quickly ….”  And in Kevin Young who wrote, “what’s worse, the forgetting/or the thing/ you can’t forget.”  When I read, I felt part of a world that made meaning out of pain. 

After two years I began to realize that the tears, the pages of memories that I wrote, the miles I walked with my dog, the hours on a yoga mat, the time with students in my classroom, the potlucks in my kitchen, the volumes of poetry and memoir that I read – all of it was a path into the future. A path I had walked without knowing it was leading somewhere.

Finally, and this happened only gradually, I found myself remembering grief. Grief as something that I had felt in the past, no longer the wave that used to flatten me, no longer feeling grief in every bone and muscle of my body but thinking about how it had felt in the past. I still missed my husband deeply, but missing isn’t grief. Missing is a feeling that can go on forever while you begin a new life. Whatever shape that new life takes, there’s the possibility of joy again, even love. In the space hollowed out by grief there is room for your heart to expand, to open to the world, to grow and to give thanks for the love you once had. At the end of my path I was amazed by gratitude.

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Barbara Abercrombie has published over fifteen books, including The Language of Loss. Two of her books were listed on Poets & Writers Magazine’s “Best Writing Books of the Year” list. Her personal essays have appeared in many national publications and anthologies. She has received the Outstanding Instructor and Distinguished Instructor Awards from UCLA Extension, where she teaches creative writing. She lives in Pasadena, CA with her rescue dogs Nelson and Nina. Find out more about her work at www.barbaraabercrombie.com. 

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