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15 Nov

Cheer for Chia!

Chia seeds are tiny black seeds from the Salvia hispanica plant, a relative in the mint family. They’re whole-grain, gluten-free, and usually grown organically. They are thought to have originated with the Aztecs and the Mayas. “Chia” is actually the Maya word for “strength.” Chia seeds are being touted as a “super food” because they contain all kinds of important nutrients that are beneficial for the body and brain. Let’s look at why these tiny little seeds are good for us, and a some ways to incorporate them into our meals.

– Just one ounce of chia seeds (about 2 Tablespoons) contains 11 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein, 9 grams of fat (5 grams of which are omega-3s!), plus generous servings of calcium, manganese, magnesium, and phosphorus, and a good amount of zinc, potassium, and Vitamins B 1, 2, and 3. And all this for just 137 calories.

– In a one ounce serving (28 grams) chia seeds have 12 grams of carbs. But 11 of those grams are fiber, and not digested by the body. Just 1 gram is digestible carbs. Fiber is in the carb family, but because it doesn’t raise blood sugar or require insulin to dispose of it, fiber’s health effects are entirely different than carbs that come from starch or sugar.

– Chia seeds, with their highly soluble fiber content, expand in water – they can absorb 10-12 times their weight, expanding in the stomach and becoming gel-like. Because of this we feel more full and eat less. Fiber also helps with the good bacteria in the intestine, essential for good gut health.

– If you’re vegan, or concerned about getting enough protein in your diet, chia seeds definitely help as they contain 14% protein by weight, high compared to other plant foods.

– Because chia seeds are high in fiber, protein and omega-3s, they can help to reduce the risk of heart disease. Of course, this is only possible when accompanied by a healthy lifestyle and diet.

– Chia seeds fit easily into any diet. They have a bland, neutral taste, so they don’t change the flavor of other foods. Unlike flax seeds, they don’t need to be ground up to be eaten. They can be sprinkled onto salads, veggies, cereal, yogurt or rice. They can also be used to thicken sauces, and many people use them as an egg substitute in baking recipes.

CHIA SEED PUDDING RECIPE

Serves 4

The basis for this recipe is the proportion of seeds to almond milk. for every 2 cups of liquid, use 1/2 cup of chia seeds. From there you can improvise and add whatever you like!

Ingredients:

2 cups almond milk (or rice, oat, or coconut milk)

1/2 cup chia seeds

2-3 tablespoons sweetener: honey, sucanat, brown sugar, whatever you like (optional – if you are using sweetened milk you don’t need any sweetener)

1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder

7-8 strands saffron, broken up

2 Tablespoons sliced almonds

Directions:

Put all the ingredients into a large jar, put the lid on tightly and shake it up vigorously. Make sure the chia seeds separate and there aren’t any visible lumps.

Refrigerate overnight.

CHOCOLATE CHIA PUDDING

2 cups almond milk (or substitute)

1/3 cup chia seeds

2 teaspoons cacao powder

2-3 Tablespoons sweetener

1/4 teaspoon ground dardamom

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Pour everything into a jar, and shake vigorously.

Refrigerate overnight.

Serves 4. Top with whipped cream and shaved chocolate for a lovely presentation!

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15 Oct

Repurposing Your Inner Critic

An excerpt from The Final 8th
by Bridgit Dengel Gaspard, LCSW

No one enjoys being stuck and the misery is amplified when we have accomplished multiple steps toward a cherished goal — whether breaking a bad habit, losing weight, building a business, finding a mate, or finishing a degree — but just can’t seem to complete it.

In The Final 8th: Enlist Your Inner Selves to Accomplish Your Goals, author and therapist Bridgit Dengel Gaspard calls this demoralizing quandary when someone is so close to the finish line but just can’t seem to cross it “the final 8th” and introduces a powerful technique called voice dialogue to help readers recognize and overcome internal blocks that are preventing them from achieving their goals. We hope you’ll enjoy this excerpt from the book.

# # #

The Inner Critic is programmed to be suspicious of anything new. It is wired toward attachment to your early caregivers and their core negative beliefs. To this persona, the final eighth is perilous! Because its honorable task is to protect you by avoiding abandonment, it’s hypervigilant for dangers like judgment, hurt, shame, or rejection. Its dysfunctional strategy is to criticize you before someone else does in the hopes of making you “better” in some way. Your Inner Critic simultaneously assumes you’re inferior (which effectively enforces core negative beliefs) and urges you to move ahead (which presupposes that you have the ability to do so) and thus berates you both for being inferior and for squandering your superior talents. This keeps you in your double bind, a dynamic your Inner Critic may not have been aware of until now.

Who does your Inner Critic work for? Think about that for a minute. Does your Inner Critic work for you? I don’t think so. Otherwise it would obey when you give it an order. Your Inner Critic works for your early caregivers and perhaps some of the folks referenced in your blameography. Out of this instinctive devotion, the Inner Critic can behave like a bully who resorts to threats and stalking. Making you feel bad keeps you in your double bind. It makes you the servant of your Inner Critic and core negative beliefs, holding you back from your final eighth.

The Inner Critic’s gifts are that it never seems to run out of energy or creativity, second-guess itself, or become overwhelmed with insecurity. Hal and Sidra Stone describe the Inner Critic as having “the intelligence of a genius, an uncanny intuition, an ability to analyze our feelings and motivations, a sweeping gaze that notices the tiniest of details, and, in general, an unerring ability to see and to magnify all our faults and shortcomings. It seems to be a lot more intelligent and perceptive than we ordinary mortals are.”

The energy and insights of the Inner Critic are like fire, which can either be harnessed to sauté piquant truffle fries or let loose to burn the barn down. Here’s an exercise that can help harness the skills of your Inner Critic and other parts.

The Final Eighth Process

Promote Your Alter Egos

List some abilities of your Inner Critic.

As an example, here are my Inner Critic’s abilities:

The ability to keenly observe how I don’t measure up.

The ability to brutally assess how I don’t measure up.

Limitless energy to judge how I don’t measure up.

Surprise your Inner Critic with a love letter. Thank it for having been such a loyal protector, with its blind devotion to saving you from abandonment at any cost. Let it know that the days of living as if your core negative beliefs were true are over. It is now the era of core positivity. In a word or two, describe how that feels. Some of my clients have chosen words such as radiant, free, and liberated.

Redefine and upgrade the talents and creative energies of the Inner Critic for beneficial use. Its laser-sharp perception is now assigned to supporting your final eighth goals.

Here’s how my Inner Critic’s abilities are reassigned:

Its ability for keen observation can be applied to polishing my writing.

Its ability for brutal assessment can be transformed into highly efficient time management, reminding me that if I want to accomplish all I hope to in a day, I need to get organized first.

Its limitless energy to judge can be transformed into a vast supply of energy to fuel my creativity and fun curiosity instead of reinforcing my core negative belief.

List some abilities of another subpersonality.

Here are examples from a client who recommissioned her Perfectionist:

Ability to maintain high standards, which I never measure up to.

Ability to be tireless, which makes me feel terrible, as, inevitably, I don’t measure up.

Ability to be competitive, though I never measure up or make the cut.

Again, surprise this alter ego with a love letter thanking it for its protection and letting it know that the time of living as if your core negative beliefs were true is over. It is now the era of core positivity. In a word or two, describe how that feels.

Promote Other Selves

Reassign and promote the talents and creative energies of these other selves. Make sure you assign them roles appropriate to their age and strengths: in other words, don’t ask your Magical Inner Child to function as the CEO of your final eighth project.

Here’s how my client reassigned the superpowers of her Perfectionist:

The Perfectionist’s high standards will be applied to make my home beautiful, because it makes me feel good and I deserve it.

The ability to be tireless will be applied to my final eighth goal, without my core negative belief putting the brakes on me all the time.

Its competitiveness will be assigned to motivating me so that when I set out to do something, like my final eighth, I have the strength to persevere.

# # #

Bridgit Dengel Gaspard, LCSW, is the author of The Final 8th and the founder of the New York Voice Dialogue Institute. She is a former performer who earned a master’s degree from Columbia University and teaches at numerous professional settings including Omega Institute. She lives in New York City, where she maintains a thriving private practice. Visit her online at  https://www.final8th.com/.

Excerpted from the book The Final 8th. Copyright ©2020 by Bridgit Dengel Gaspard. Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.

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01 Oct

The Science of Relationships

Recently I was interviewed by a UK Magazine for an article about my take on the science behind relationships. The questions were interesting and thought-provoking – so I thought I’d share with you here:

SR: In terms of the science of attraction, what is it that attracts us to another person in the first place?

LC: In a word… karma. We have a kind of contract with certain people in this particular life – and we are compelled to fulfill it.

SR: How important is physical attraction in comparison to connecting emotionally and being on a similar intellectual level? What is the most important out of these three?

LC: Physical attraction opens that door so that you can connect in the other ways more quickly. But in terms of a relationship sustaining, if we’re talking about romantic relationships, you need all three equally.

 

SR: What is the key to a successful relationship? Is there some kind of formula?

LC: Kindness. Truthfulness. Some people say communication is key, but what good is communication if you’re not being truthful?

 

SR: What makes a happy relationship?

LC: Commitment. Knowing someone has got your back. Knowing you’re safe and can be yourself without fear that you will be abandoned.

 

SR: Are some of us naturally better at making relationships work than others?

LC: Our past has an impact on how we view relationships, and how we learn to be in relationships. So, some are lucky to have had positive experiences and role models which makes it easier for them. Others need to struggle to unlearn bad habits, or change thought processes that hold them back from being successful in relationships.

 

SR: How important is sex in human relationships?

LC: During procreation age, it is very important, it’s a way to communicate. We are naturally driven to create a family, a nest. Those instincts come out as wanting to have sex. But after that, sex as recreation is not important. It’s intimacy that is important, and we can get that in many other ways besides sex.

 

SR: Humans are one of the only species that evolved to have sex for pleasure rather than simply for reproductive purposes. Why do you think that is?

LC: That would be a question for an anthropologist! But from a spiritual perspective, we have these five senses, and we search for happiness through those senses, through our connection to the outside world. We’re looking in all the wrong places. True bliss is only found within, when we discover and experience our connection with the Divine.

 

SR: Which do you think is more natural for humans; monogamy or promiscuity? Why?

LC: More natural? Monogamy. Although many would argue differently. We are not animals. We are spiritual creatures living in this human body. To experience the spiritual it is far better for us to have that intimate experience with one person. To dive deep and learn about ourselves through our relationships.

 

SR: Unfaithfulness/infidelity – is it a conscious choice or something beyond our control? Does it have a place in society or does it do nothing but harm?

LC: It’s our ego out of control. We think it is fun, we use the excuse that we can’t help it, but it just shows spiritual and emotional immaturity.

 

SR: Do you think love and lust are separate, or are they linked?

LC: Love, true love, is seeing the divine in your partner. Lust is merely hormones and ego.

 

SR: What impact do you think social media is having on our ability to find, start and maintain healthy relationships?

LC: It is certainly helping us to find and start relationships. To maintain them that’s up to us. You can’t really maintain a relationship just via social media. I do think it is helping grandparents stay in better touch with grandkids, and help them to know what is going on in their lives, seeing their photos of all their activities and such. That’s a good thing. Reconnecting with old friends. But for genuine, healthy, intimate relationships you have to go beyond social media.

 

SR: Following on from the above question, online chat rooms and dating apps have changed the way we meet potential partners. Is this a good change or a bad one? How do you think this will change in the future?

LC: It’s good up to a point. It’s also bad. We don’t know who is genuine or not, or what their motives are for participating. I think it will change in that there will be more safeguards, more vetting involved – purely out of necessity.

 

SR: In the UK, statistics show that divorce rates are very high. Why do you think that is? Have we become a society of giving up rather than trying to fix things, or is it better to let go when you know something isn’t right?

LC: We’re living longer, that’s a part of it. It’s really difficult to sustain a marriage over a lifetime. People grow and change and drift apart. They’re not the same people as they were when they first got together. And also I think there’s this impulse in young people – they want a marriage and don’t see it as a lifelong commitment. That’s why we have all these “starter” marriages.

 

SR: What do you think is the biggest challenge facing relationships today?

LC: Distractions. We are so distracted by the internet, and work, and activities that we don’t focus enough on the person right in front of us, who needs and deserves our attention most of all.

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01 Jul

eGod — when God gets eGo’d

“God alone is real, the world is false; and the individual being is none other than God.”

“God misunderstood is the world; the world properly understood is God.”

“It’s not that there is one god or many gods, there is only God.”

The term God is widely misunderstood to be referring to a supernatural anthropomorphic being in the heavens. Instead it refers to the one and only Reality that actually exists — the ultimate formless partless unchanging infinite Reality which is the ground of all existence, the most fundamental substratum of this universe, the underlying basis and the very essence of everything, the highest Truth beyond which there is nothing more to be known. The various gods represented in different religions are symbolisms pointing to the same Reality. It is what we all are seeking — knowingly or unknowingly — either through externally-focused science or through internally-focused spirituality or just through life itself. The universe with all its living and non-living constituents is nothing but a virtual reality manifesting within God alone. Hence the universe can very well be termed eGod (as adding the prefix “e” to something “real” refers to its “virtual” incarnation e.g. e + mail = email, e + commerce = ecommerce, and the likes).

Why does God manifest as eGod?

It’s because God gets eGo’d. This is not a play on words. It’s the truth. The reason why God manifests as eGod is because of a false individual ego i.e. a wrong identification with a body-mind complex. This ego segregates the world into “I” and “not I”, “mine” and “not mine”, “I like” and “I dislike”, “I want” and “I don’t want”, etc. making the one undivided Reality manifest as a world of multiplicity. It’s very much like a dream. The whole dream world is none other than the mind itself but since we assume a false identification with a particular body in the dream, the dream world seems to be divided into multiplicity. The same thing happens in a virtual reality simulation. It’s uncanny how quickly we take ourselves to be a fake body within a simulation and start behaving as if that is what we actually are!

eGod is a collection of countless such dream-like simulations manifesting within God with each simulation representing an individual being with a false ego and a private little world. In other words, God is the “hardware” — the real stuff — and eGod is a bunch of “software” simulations — virtual fluff. The intricate nature of each simulation is such that it’s able to superimpose a false ego on God and also feel very real (just like a dream feels real while we are in the dream). The moment one drops this false ego and knows oneself to be none other than the ultimate Reality, the whole world collapses (not literally but in understanding) into oneness. That is when one starts seeing everything as a virtual manifestation of God alone. It’s like a mind dreaming while also knowing that it’s its own dream.

But don’t mistake this simulation to be a dream of your mind. What you call as “your mind” is just a part of a dream-like simulation manifesting within the underlying Reality. And since the Reality is infinite, the dream-like simulations within it are infinitely more sophisticated, complex and long-lasting than the dreams of our infinitesimally small minds. Moreover, these countless simulations share common objects/events and are so inter-connected that it all seems to be one coherent universe. It’s somewhat like a MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) in which the players have a separate simulation going on on their respective computers and they see the game only from their individual perspective but at the same time show up in each other’s simulations as well as share common objects/events giving rise to the feeling that it’s one coherent virtual reality. The key difference is that in a MMORPG each player is a separate individual where as in eGod, God alone is assuming different identities and playing with Itself!

Each individual simulation turns off and back on every time that individual goes into deep dreamless sleep and comes out of it. The whole eGod virtual reality also shuts down after a while and restarts again later. This cycle of eGod or the universe manifesting and unmanifesting in God is beginningless and endless. Each eGod instance could be different from the previous one and it won’t be a surprise if multiple eGods (i.e. multiple universes) manifest within God simultaneously with each eGod being a separate MMORPG-like virtual reality having it’s own collection of individual simulations.

But why should an eGod be manifesting within God at all?

It’s due to the very nature of God which is existence-consciousness-bliss. The nature of consciousness is to experience, so it tries to experience the one and only Reality that actually exists which is itself. But the Reality is infinite and not experienceable in entirety. When there is an attempt to experience the inexperienceable, an illusion is generated in the form of countless dream-like simulations called eGod. For better clarity, take the case of the eyes as an illustration. The nature of the eyes is to see but when they try to see the sky which is so vast that it cannot be seen by them in entirety, an illusion is generated and the sky looks like a hemispherical dome (which it is not).

Hence, eGod manifests within God due to the very nature of the infinite Reality trying to experience itself. The existence-consciousness-bliss nature of God manifests in all the living and non-living constituents of eGod with varying degrees. The consciousness nature manifests more prominently as countless experiencers, the existence nature manifests more prominently as the various experienced objects, and the bliss nature manifests more prominently as the corresponding experiences. Since existence-consciousness-bliss is one inseparable Reality and not three separate things, the experiencers along with their respective experienced objects and the corresponding experiences are also inseparable. And since infinite consciousness also implies infinite intelligence, these simulations are of very high quality with lot of systematism, complexity and inter-connectedness. All of it is so flawless and intricate that it feels very real.

Please note that God doesn’t do this deliberately. It’s the very nature of God. Just like it’s the nature of fire to burn, water to wet, sun to illumine, etc. Fire cannot be said to be doing anything specifically when it burns something. It burns as that’s its very nature of being hot (there is no such thing as a cold fire). Similarly, God cannot be said to be doing anything specifically. It’s the very nature of God to manifest as eGod.

It’s also important to note that eGod is not a problem in itself. The actual problem begins only when it gets eGo’d. With ego, eGod is full of conflicts; without ego, it’s full of harmony and peace!

Why and how to drop this false ego?

This understanding of the Reality is not just for intellectual entertainment. It is to help us realize that we are actually one infinite undivided Reality and that we are only mistaking ourselves to be little creatures of flesh and blood. All problems in life sprout from this misunderstanding as we keep worrying about the survival and safety of something we are not. It’s ok to continue to play our role in this virtual simulation but there is no point worrying about anything as none of it is actually real. This feels quite liberating as it takes away a huge burden off our shoulders. And it’s only possible when we drop the false ego by knowing that we are not this body-mind complex we mistake ourselves to be. We are the one and only formless partless unchanging infinite Reality which cannot be touched or affected by a virtual simulation in any way. Since there is nothing else apart from the Reality there is no conflict of any sorts — just peace and harmony. This realization does not solve all the artificial problems of life, it dissolves them! It’s like we don’t have to solve each and every petty problem in a dream. We just have to know it’s a dream and all the problems lose their grip on us.

In order to drop the false ego, one should systematically learn about the Reality and sincerely contemplate upon it to be convinced. There will be many doubts that have to be resolved through proper reasoning and inquiry into one’s own experience. After intellectual conviction, one can start assimilating it in the mind by living life accordingly. Even though it might take time for it to stabilize, the practice gets validated and starts benefiting every step of the way by dissolving more and more problems of life and bringing more and more peace and joy as one progresses. The final realization will only come by God’s grace though as it’s God’s nature that gives rise to eGod and the false ego. The puny little mind cannot overcome God’s natural power. But the practice will surely prepare the mind to receive and recognize the grace when it comes. The best place to start is to explore the teachings of Advaita (Nondual) Vedanta which is the highest and deepest exposition of the Reality. My recent articles are also on this subject. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions (npabuwal gmail).

Once the realization dawns, life could be like watching a movie. You can enjoy the movie through its good parts and whenever it gets ugly, like if you get too scared or sad, you can simply remind yourself that you are falsely identifying with a character in the movie and you are actually unscathed. You can just relax by sinking back into your real nature of being God, smile, and then jump back in when ready. Moreover, your life will be full of love for everyone as you will know you are not just one of the characters in the movie but the whole movie along with all its characters is within God — the real you — and you alone are manifesting as everything. That’s why love, grace, compassion, kindness, mercy, and all the wonderful qualities come very naturally to God as there is nothing apart from God. And remember, this realization is also at the level of the mind and part of the simulation itself. As God, you were, are and will always be free!

“The eye with which I see God is the same eye with which God sees me.”

“We are not human beings trying to have a spiritual experience. We are a spiritual Being having human experiences”

“Whether you know or not, whether you agree or not, you are none other than God.”

(This article was cross-posted from happinessjourney.net/post/622649780649312256/egod-when-god-gets-egod)

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20 Apr

Lucid Dreaming

“All that we see or seem

Is but a dream within a dream.”

-Edgar Allan Poe

 

You’re asleep, dreaming away, and then you realize that you are in a dream. Has that ever happened to you? If so, then you have experienced lucid dreaming. It’s like the “dream within a dream” that Poe writes about.

 

Usually during the dream state, the dream is our reality. We aren’t conscious of the fact that we are dreaming. It is only after we wake up that we can understand we were in a dream and not in reality, sometimes to our great relief! Lucid dreaming is a state in which we are aware that we are dreaming while we are dreaming. Aristotle, the ancient Greek philosophy, wrote about this in his treatise “On Dreams” sometime around 350 B.C. He says: often, when one is asleep, there is something in consciousness which declares that what then presents itself is but a dream.”

 

In 1899 Sigmund Freud in “The Interpretation of Dreams” gave credit to Aristotle as being the first to recognize that dreams “do not arise from supernatural manifestations but follow the laws of the human spirit.” In 1913 Dutch psychiatrist and writer Frederik van Eeden coined the term “lucid dream” in his article “A Study of Dreams.”

 

Today researchers estimate that about 77 percent of people have experienced lucid dreaming one or more times. Since most dreaming takes place during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, this is when lucid dreaming occurs as well. During the REM stage of sleep, most of the muscles in the body become paralyzed, so that we don’t hurt ourselves while acting out our dreams. But the eye muscles, still able to move, move rapidly. Good quality REM sleep helps improve memory, focus, and emotional regulation.

 

While it is usual to just wake up from a lucid dream, many lucid dreamers are adopting the practice of staying in the dream state and exploring the potential there. They can observe their dreams, think of them in the context of the waking world, and sometimes even control the direction of their dreams. For example, a lucid dreamer may choose to work on a challenging problem in the dream state. Before drifting off to sleep, they think of the problem for which they need a solution. In this way, they train the mind to move in the direction of their goal.

 

There are many applications to lucid dreaming that can be beneficial to a person’s life. Using lucid dreaming to help stop nightmares is called “lucid dreaming therapy.” This has also been helpful for people to overcome phobias. With this technique, the dreamer can consciously take on “superpowers” in the dream to fight back or escape from what they are afraid of, or even choose to wake up from the dream. Lucid dreaming techniques have also been used to treat depression and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).

 

It takes time and practice to both learn and get good at lucid dreaming. If you’re up for it, here’s how you can get started:

 

1) Get good quality sleep. To have dreams, you need restful sleep, which includes as much REM as possible. Practice good sleep hygiene: keep the room cool, dark and quiet. Get to bed by 10 pm. Follow a calming bedtime routine – including no screen time at least one hour before bed. Make sure your mattress is in good condition. If it is older than 5-7 years you’re probably due for a new one. Remember that a mattress is the foundation of a good night’s sleep

 

2) Keep a dream journal. Many people can’t remember their dreams by the time they wake up. And as the day goes on, dream memories fade. Keep a notebook by your bed and as soon as you awaken, write down everything you can remember about your dreams. As an option, you could record a voice memo if this is easier. There are several dream journal apps for phones to keep track of your dreams as well.

 

3) Look for patterns and signs. Once you have a few dreams recorded, start looking for what images show up again and again. It might be people, or places, or themes. When you identify these signs, you’re more likely to be able to recognize when you are in a dream state.

 

4) Reality checks. Lucid dreaming experts say that we can get the brain used to the idea of noticing when we’re dreaming or not. This way we’re better able to do so while we’re sleeping. For example: While you’re awake, check the clock – look away – then look back at the clock. In the waking state, the time will stay the same. In the dream state, the time will likely change. Notice the waking state about 10 times a day, reminding yourself that you are awake.

 

5) The MILD technique. MILD stands for Mneumonic Induction to Lucid Dreaming. As you are falling asleep, repeat a phrase to yourself over and over again. For example: “I will know when I am dreaming.” By doing this you’re encouraging the brain to be aware as dreaming happens, and this increases the possibility of lucid dreams.

 

6) Go back to the dream. If you wake up from a dream, stay in bed and record the details in your journal. Then when you try to go back to sleep, focus your mind on returning to the same dream. Play it out as if you were aware of the dream until you fall asleep.

 

7) The WILD technique. WILD stands for Wake Induced Lucid Dreaming. When you wake up, instead of writing down the dream, keep your eyes closed and go right back to sleep. As you lie there, keep the mind focused and aware. Sometimes in this state, when the mind is awake and the body goes to sleep, you might become aware of “sleep paralysis.” If this makes you uneasy, remind yourself that this is temporary so that you can lucid dream, and that you are safe and comfortable. Salvador Dali, Benjamin Franklin, and Mary Shelley are known to have used this technique to help themselves dream up some of their greatest works.

 

8) Stay in the dream. Often beginning ludic dreamers get excited when they realize that they are in a dream that they wake themselves up. To stay in the dream, experts recommend that you distract the mind from the physical sensations of waking up. While in the dream you could rub your hands together, spin around, fall backwards, or continue doing what you were doing in the dream.

 

9) Video gaming. A recent study found that video gaming is associated with more ability to remember dreams. Video gamers are often immersed in a dream-like, fictional world where they have control over their movements and activities. Just make sure to stay off the screen 1 hour or more before bed to get a good night’s rest.

 

Like any skill, you need to practice and be patient as you work on lucid dreaming. The first step is just to relax and observe. Enjoy the process. Sweet dreams!

More sleep tips at : www.BetterSleep.org

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03 Apr

Help the World: Healing through Scientific Prayer

Presented by Rev. Alan L. Pritz


Paramahansa Yogananda (author, Autobiography of a Yogi) transmitting spiritual blessings.

Negative vibrations of selfishness, greed, and hatred bring disease, unhappiness, war, and natural disaster to individuals and nations. These can be overcome if enough people turn to Spirit in meditation and prayer. By changing ourselves — through spiritual living and communion with the Divine — we automatically radiate vibrations of peace and harmony that do much to counteract the negative effects of inharmonious living. In addition, we can serve as channels for divine healing through scientific prayer. Never has a time been so ripe for social and planetary spiritual healing.

Praying for others is one of the highest services we can offer. Charity, social work, and other forms of relief are valuable and necessary in temporarily alleviating the suffering of others, but scientific prayer strikes at the root cause of world suffering: wrong thought patterns of humanity that ultimately manifest as inharmonious conditions. Though prayer styles may differ, spiritual healing is most effective when methods of transmitting energy correspond with our subtle body structure.

The body/mind is a receiving and broadcasting station. We tune into, or receive, Spirit by focusing at the spiritual eye in meditation. Then, we broadcast or transmit healing forces through the energy centers or chakras in the palms. This is the historical basis of “laying on of hands’ and many other forms of energetic healing.

These 5 steps can be done by anyone regardless of faith orientation. It doesn’t what form of Higher Power you adheres to; what matters is helping.

Step One: Tune-In
Meditate to draw closer to God / Spirit. Commune deeply with the Divine.

Step Two: Ask
Invoke Divine blessing and guidance. God is the sole healer, we are but channels for that Higher Power.

Step Three: Prepare
Rub the hands together briskly. Feel a sensation of warmth or energy gather in the palms (as best as possible). Raise the hands to head or shoulder height with palms facing out. Clearly visualize whoever or wherever you wish to direct healing.

Step Four: Sending
Chant OM or Amen/Amin aloud simultaneously feeling spiritual blessings and energy flow out through the hands. Mentally direct this healing force by envisioning recipients bathed in divine healing light and manifesting perfect health. Again, see them as Whole.
Repeat this process several times or for as long as you feel to do so.

Step Five: Closure
Express gratitude for the healing. Appreciation is ever appropriate for divine gifts.

Consider doing this as part of your daily spiritual practice. The world needs YOUR help and everyone’s input is important! Just do and let God take care of outcomes. Share with others.

 

 

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18 Mar

Love in the Time of Corona

The world is in a challenging place. Our lives have been shifted into uncharted territory as the latest Corona Virus, Covid-19, reaps havoc with economies, societies, and global balance. Rather humbling to have the world grind to a halt by a sub-microscopic piece of genetic material. Scientific definitions aside, we are called to respond to a scenario that sources – often the media – deem calamitous at best, catastrophic at worst. Yet I propose a different perspective, one that is not fear driven but, instead, more gracious and magnanimous.

First of all, fear does nothing useful. It numbs the mind and fuels reactive, panic-based self-centeredness. Consider a spark landing amidst a dry pine forest. Fire erupts and undoubtedly must be contained. Fearful responses are like winds that whip the blaze into an unfettered inferno. Reasoned strategies contain, control, and ultimately eliminate the threat. Our behaviors – which arise first in thought – determine whether Corona will gain further destructive power or, alternately, provide opportunities to ennoble us.

The spiritual world is not separate from the physical. It is the subtle canvas upon which the picture of matter is painted. We, however, get to choose and express the color palate it manifests through our thoughts and deeds. One set of choices results in a gloriously expansive masterpiece; another depicts the cruel hues of defeatism, depression, and self-centeredness. Each of us selects our contribution to the painting by how we respond to what’s before us, moment by moment, day by day.

Naturally, I advocate for making this an opportunity to shine. I know times are difficult, especially for those who are ill or economically deprived. Life often isn’t easy but it’s always impacted by choices. Giving in to the temptation to shrink, to withdraw, to focus on “us four and no more” is a perfect recipe for social/global dysfunction that could be avoided by different choices, by conscious opposition to whatever is contractive. Counter fear with courage, panic with calmness, and meanness with generosity.

There is a reason why spiritual traditions discuss proper attitudes and behaviors. It’s because we need how-to-live principles that apply to all circumstances, good and bad. Why is this important? Because we thrive or suffer according to how well we adhere to, or violate, the laws of natural order. Yes, I snuck spirituality into the mix. Ironically, one needn’t subscribe to any faith to acknowledge that harmony is preferable to inharmony; love, joy, and peace more attractive than hate, despair, or violence. This is common sense. Life-enhancing behaviors promote personal well-being and social good. That said, what can we do in the face of the current situation? I’ll make several suggestions yet preface all by this counsel, “Do that which ennobles, expands, and assists. Refrain from that which diminishes, constricts, or deprives.” Hopefully these points will seem reasonable and easily put into practice.

Start with the body/mind. Be prudent and socially responsible, but not fearful. Fear compromises the immune system and, in the case of a contagious disease, is self-defeating. We’ve all read the news to understand issues and responses. Add to these whatever promotes health from the inside out: Proper hygiene, diet, and, as amenable, immune-enhancing supplements. Exercise, get fresh air and sunshine. Yes, breathe deeply. Relax. Stress and tension deplete energy so if you can, practice skills designed to recharge and renew. This may sound esoteric but such are common in yoga, tai chi, or chi gung circles. A genuine smile is said to distribute life force – prana/chi – to every body cell. The happy person is less subject to disease since happiness attracts a greater supply of life energy into the body. Maintaining a positive, joyful attitude is exactly the right thing to do. Fast from worry. Watch comedies, laugh, practice appreciation and gratitude. You’d be amazed how deprivation can highlight the abundance we ordinarily overlook, or help foster insights about things we might take for granted. A grateful heart is a powerful force, as is compassion. Unfortunately, people have been encouraged to stockpile. This generates a mentality that prompts a secondary ‘illness,’ greed. If everyone considered the needs of others they’d re-visit the desire to hoard. We have an abundance of goods that will remain if we don’t participate in frenzied buying. While at the store recognize that excess buying may cause another to go without. Get what you require so others can too. Seem simplistic? It is. This isn’t astrophysics; it’s consideration. Just as a micro-organism can bring the world to a halt, so basic expressions of loving kindness can help the wheels of global order continue moving smoothly.

Lastly, yet most importantly, nourish the inner being. What frees people from suffering? Will money do so? Will toilet paper? Ultimately, nothing material can. Only direct experience of ones’ soul nature provides this. The world perpetuates dramas to enforce spiritual truths. One of these is that faith in Spirit is a divine law. A smooth life isn’t necessarily a victorious life. No matter if sickness or death dance about you, do not be discouraged. Earthly life is an ephemeral existence; lasting reality is spiritual not material. Be helpful and learn to see the Divine in all regardless of race or creed; love everyone as your own. Selfishness cramps the soul in a limiting prison of material desire. Concentrate on the human family without restrictions. Do your part to improve the world but don’t be bound by its troubles or you’ll be ensnared by them; that’s the secret of victory over delusion. And, pray. Thought is a force. When it is focused on the Divine and directed with beneficial intent for the healing of individuals, societies, or the planet, a tremendous power is released. Although subtle in nature, the vibrations of spirituality and healing generated by prayer engender positive changes in the subtle realms that ultimately manifest in positive material outcomes. Whether confronted by a pandemic or not, the right path in life is always to include others in your welfare. By serving all you serve your Self and, in this fashion, emerge triumphant over trials.

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28 Jan

What I Am (and You Are Too!)

I feel I am a conscious entity in which a simulation, constituting of gross and subtle objects/things, is appearing. The gross (aka physical) objects include a body and a world entering through the sense organs, in the form of gross sights, sounds and sensations. The subtle objects include thoughts and emotions (that are also just thoughts loaded with feelings) in the form of subtle sights, sounds and sensations. These objects are appearing directly in me, otherwise I would not have been able to know/experience them. It’s important to note that even though I experience a body and a world directly, I do not experience a so-called mind (which is actually a composite term used for the mind-intellect-memory-ego combo) directly. The mind-composite is only implied by the type of thoughts that appear in me. To clarify, I do not experience any specific object that I can point to and say that is the mind or the intellect or the memory or the ego. The mind is implied due to some of the thoughts being reactionary and habitual, the intellect is implied due to some of the thoughts being intelligent and analytical, the memory is implied due to some of the thoughts being of past remembrances, and the ego is implied due to some of the thoughts containing an “I” or “my” identity. I only experience these thoughts directly, along with the corresponding parts of the brain that feel active or affected during those thoughts, and never the mind-composite directly.

I further feel that the simulation that is appearing in me is just that – an appearance. I am actually untouched and unaffected by it. Even though I experience certain sensations that can be labeled as pleasant or unpleasant, they are just gross objects appearing in me but they do not affect me. Certain sensations are felt in the body like the feelings of hunger, thirst, itch, ache, etc.. And what we call mental feelings are also nothing but physical sensations felt in the brain tissues. E.g. the feeling of stress is just some brain tissues getting overly strained due to lot of thinking and the feeling of anger is just some brain tissues getting overly heated. So all mental feelings are nothing but physical sensations of brain tissues which are also sometimes accompanied with certain bodily sensations like palpitations, sweating, shallow/rapid breathing, etc. All these sensations just appear in me as gross objects and I am untouched by them. I am just a witness of them. I am like a screen that is unaffected by the movie playing on it, irrespective of how pleasant or unpleasant the movie might be.

When the objective appearances vanish and the simulation stops in deep absorption, I experience my real nature as pure existence-consciousness-bliss (sat-chit-ananda). I do not feel any limitation of time, space, object, etc. in that state. This makes me believe that I am actually unlimited and formless but the simulation imposes an artificial feeling of being contained within a body form with all corresponding limitations. Other people also report similar simulatory experiences, but these simulations are not completely independent. They seem to share common gross objects and events which leads to the conclusion there is just one underlying reality. You, I and others are actually that one reality and not separate entities.

So, even though I am one infinite partless reality, I somehow seem to experience countless parallel simulations simultaneously as separate individuals – each forming a different viewpoint of one big simulation called the universe. It seems like the universe is one gigantic stream of events flowing constantly from one moment to another, and that I know everything that is to be known in this universe from different viewpoints. The individual simulations seem to represent different cross-sections of the universe as experienced from the viewpoints of different individuals. Or maybe there are only these individual simulations and the feeling of one universe is only incidental as these simulations seem to be interconnected sharing common gross objects and events. In either case, I am one reality of the nature of existence-consciousness-bliss with an uncanny ability of generating and focusing at countless simulations and experiencing them simultaneously and separately.

But why should I be doing this? Why can I not just remain as pure existence-consciousness-bliss without generating and experiencing these simulations within me?

Here’s the best explanation I have found:

Take the case of the eyes as an illustration. Their nature is to see. Now consider the sky. It’s so vast it cannot be seen in entirety by these tiny eyes. But when you turn your head upwards, the eyes try to see that which cannot be seen in entirety. The result is an error and the sky looks like a hemispherical dome (which it is not) to the eyes. In the same way, the nature of consciousness is to experience, so it tries to experience the one and only reality that actually exists which is itself. But the reality is infinite and not experiencable in entirety. When there is an attempt to experience the inexperiencable, an error is generated in the form of countless interconnected simulations – each with an experiencer, various experienced objects and their corresponding experiences. The consciousness aspect of the reality appears more prominently as the experiencers, the existence aspect appears more prominently as the experienced objects, and the bliss aspect appears more prominently as the corresponding experiences. So all these countless simulations are just an error produced by the very nature of the infinite reality trying to experience itself. These simulations manifest the infinite reality in a finite way so the consciousness of the experiencers, the existence of the experienced objects, and the bliss in the experiences are all finite, of varying degrees and transient instead of being infinite and permanent. Moreover, since infinite consciousness also implies infinite intelligence, these simulations are of very high quality following various types of laws both at micro and macro cosmic levels with lot of systematism and interconnectedness. They are so flawless and well-structured that they appear to be very real. But it’s important to note that these simulations are absolutely harmless as they are not actually real and are just appearances in the one unblemished reality that I am (and everyone is)!

Another question that might arise is that once this understanding of being the one infinite reality dawns upon a particular individual, what makes him/her continue to experience the simulation and act through a body?

The answer is quite simple. The appearance of experience and action is just part of the simulation and going on of its own accord. The infinite reality is not actually doing anything deliberately. The simulations simply appear in it by its very nature and keep going, irrespective of whether the understanding of being the one underlying reality has dawned upon a particular individual or not. The only difference it would make is that the actions of an individual after this understanding has dawned would appear to be in accordance with that understanding.

Note: You can replace all the occurrences of words “I” & “me” with “you” and “my” with “your” in the above article and it will still be true! I am just trying to take a step back from the apparent simulation and revel in the underlying reality which you, I and everyone actually is. I would highly encourage you to try it too. Its extremely liberating!

(This article was cross-posted from happinessjourney.net/post/190519907835/what-i-am-and-you-are-too)

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26 Nov

Giving Thanks and Making an Impact

As you gather around the table with loved ones on Thanksgiving and talk about what you are thankful for, do you sometimes wonder how you might share your abundance in the most impactful way?  Does your family have a charitable mission statement that allows members of all ages to participate in making donations to organizations that speak to your heart and values? Would you like your investment portfolio to be aligned with your views on important environmental and social issues?  

At FMB Wealth Management, we have developed an Impact Planning Program to help you address all of these questions and more.  We start by helping you determine what causes are most important to you and then work to develop a strategy that allows you to make the biggest impact in the most financially prudent way. It’s also a wonderful way to have meaningful conversations with your loved ones about the type of legacy you’d like to leave behind. 

While many of our clients make annual charitable donations and place a high value on helping others and the world around them, we have found that few have a well defined giving plan or know how to go about creating one.  Our Impact Planning Program provides a step by step process to guide you toward creating a true philanthropic vision and action plan.  We walk you through that process together with your CPA and estate planning attorney, so we can help you create the most tax efficient strategy that allows you to support the causes that matter most to you.  

However,  it’s not just all about giving money, it’s also about investing your money so that it supports the companies that are putting their resources toward the environmental or social issues that are important to you.  Our Sustainability Portfolios allow us to apply filters that identify companies with the lowest emissions, fair labor practices and largest resources devoted to green energy sources for example.  

Please reach out if any of these ideas resonate with you. We are very passionate about this area of our overall wealth management process and we’d love to tell you more.  

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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15 Mar

“Sleepy… Verrrrry Sleepy…”

“You are feeling sleepy… verrry sleepy…” Those are the words that we think of when we imagine being hypnotized. You may have seen a stage show where a hypnosis performer gets people from the audience into a trance, and then gets them to act silly. But could hypnosis really be used to help us sleep better? For many, the answer is a resounding yes!

 

I studied hypnotherapy and got my certification years ago. I’ve found that this is an effective tool to use in many areas of our lives.

 

Hypnotherapy has been used to treat various ailments since the 18th century, although hypnosis itself dates way back to prehistoric days. Hypnosis isn’t magic, or brainwashing, it is actually a heightened state of concentration. There are many times we’ve been in a state of hypnosis and not even been aware of it – for example, when we are engrossed in a really good movie, or super focused on solving a problem. That’s when the rest of the world somehow goes away. We might be called for dinner and not even be aware of it. That’s how hypnosis works.

 

Hypnosis is often performed by a certified hypnotherapist who guides a person into a trance-like state where suggestions can then be given to the subconscious mind to help that person improve a golf game, increase their confidence levels, decrease anxiety, overcome a fear, or attain other goals such as getting a restful night’s sleep. But we don’t necessarily need a hypnotherapist to achieve these results. We can use self-hypnosis, a technique very similar to guided meditation.

 

When we have trouble getting to sleep, it’s likely that we are having trouble relaxing for one reason or another. We may be stressed, worried, or feeling anxious. Self-hypnosis is one way that we can help fix the relaxation response that triggers sleep. Hypnosis helps us to refocus our thoughts by focusing instead on certain words, music, or a soothing voice. In this way we basically retrain the brain to once again relax when it is time to sleep. We provide the mind and body all it needs to calmly drift off into a pleasant sleep state.

 

The benefit, of course, is that when we awaken from a great night’s sleep we feel more energetic and focused. So, we are naturally more productive and motivated!

 

There are many self-hypnosis apps and recordings available and you can try some to see what works for you. Some of these programs use “binaural beats” as a background “white noise” kind of sound. Before sleep the brain must achieve the delta frequency. Binaural beats, a combination of sound frequencies, are used as a tool to help sync the brainwaves to that delta frequency.

 

Autogenic training, also called Autogenic therapy, is one form of self-hypnosis. This relaxation technique was developed by Johannes Schulz, a German psychiatrist, in 1932. With Autogenics, through a series of sessions, we gradually learn to relax the limbs, heart space and breath.  The idea is to induce a feeling of warmth throughout most of the body, and a feeling of coolness in the forehead. It is a way for us to influence our own autonomic nervous system to counterbalance the effects of stress. The Autogenics technique creates a physiological response, preparing us for sleep.

 

To practice Autogenics follow these guidelines:

 

– Practice alone, in quiet, or with soft background music or environmental sounds.

– Wear loose, comfortable clothing, and no shoes.

– Practice before meals so that the digestive process doesn’t interfere with the relaxation process.

– Take your time, do not rush.

– Sit comfortably in a chair, or lie down.

– If you are practicing at bedtime, make sure your room is conducive for sleep, and that your mattress is comfortable and supportive.

– Now follow these six steps:

 

1) Warm -up: Begin slow, deep breathing. Inhale for one beat, exhale for two. With each breath, increase the duration of the inhales and exhales, always doubling the length of time for the exhales.  Breath to six counts in, and twelve counts out. Then reverse the process all the way back down to one count in and two counts out.

 

2) Heavy and Warm – Heaviness and warmth represent muscular relaxation.  Visualize and actually feel your limbs becoming heavy. Mentally say to yourself on the inhale: “My arms and legs are” and on the exhale: “heavy and warm.” Repeat two more times.

 

3) A Calm Heart – Mentally say to yourself on the inhale: “My heartbeat and breathing are” and on the exhale: “calm and steady.” Repeat two more times.

 

4) A Warm Stomach – this helps you to add a central warmth and peace to your body. Mentally say to yourself on the inhale: “My stomach is” and on the exhale: “soft and warm.” Repeat two more times.

 

5) A Cool Forehead – This helps you provide a calm, stabilizing coolness to the forehead. Mentally say to yourself on the inhale: “My forehead is” and on the exhale: “cool.” Repeat two more times.

 

6) Completion. Mentally say to yourself on the inhale: “I feel” and on the exhale: “supremely calm.” Repeat two more times.

 

It is important to memorize this “script” so that you don’t have to spend energy trying to remember the words. Many people find it beneficial to record their own voice with the prompts, and this may be a good way to start. The repetition of the words helps to get the body and mind into a calm, relaxed state, which in turns promotes peaceful sleep.

 

When you are first learning Autogenics, practice this routine three times throughout the day. Before breakfast, before lunchtime, and then right before bedtime so that it helps you to fall asleep. Give it some time to see the best results. Most people notice a big, positive shift in their sleep patterns after a few weeks of practicing Autogenics.

 

Important note: Never listen to any hypnosis recording or try to use self-hypnosis while you are driving or operating heavy machinery. Also, hypnosis is not recommended for those with epilepsy or for those with any kind of psychosis. Always follow the advice of your health professional.

 

Here is a sleep hypnosis recording I made just for you!

Download
References

https://www.wikihow.com/Make-Yourself-Sleep-Using-Hypnosis

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autogenic_training

https://bebrainfit.com/autogenic-training/

https://blog.nationalgeographic.org/2013/06/24/the-science-of-hypnosis/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_hypnosis

Lissa Coffey is the spokesperson for the Better Sleep Council. More sleep tips at www.bettersleep.org

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