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06 Jun

Ashtanga Yoga: The 8-Limbed Path

Ashtanga Yoga is known as the “Eight-limbed Path” for the eight stages of yoga practice that a yogi passes through to attain awakening.  These stages were first written about in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.  The first five limbs are external practices, and the last three are internal practices.

 

-1. The first limb is Yama which is Sanskrit for restraints, or moral discipline.  The yamas are broken down into five elements of spiritual practice that we can utilize:

-Aparigraha is not acquiring.  Basically this means to avoid being greedy, to simplify, to not accumulate or use more than you need.

-Asteya is not stealing.  Respect other people and their boundaries and property.  Do not take something that is not yours, whether it is in a material, physical, spiritual, intellectual or emotional sense.

-Ahimsa is nonviolence.  Practice peace in thought, word and deed, towards yourself and others.

-Brahmacharya is moderation.  It also means we must be virtuous, to be loving and have compassion for others.

-Satya is truthfulness.  Be honest, have integrity, understand the power of the spoken word.

 

-2. Niyama is the second limb in Ashtanga Yoga.  It means observances, and self-restraint.  There are five inner practices we can follow to maintain moral principles:

-Samtosa is contentment.  Be happy in the present moment.  Know that everything you have, and everything you are is enough.  Be satisfied and content.

-Tapas is a zest for life.  Learn and grow every day, build strength and wisdom.  Develop spiritual practices and be disciplined.

-Saucha is a purity of body and mind.  Take care of yourself, body, mind and spirit, and also take care of your environment.

-Svadhyaya is self-referral.  Practice contemplation and introspection.  Get to know yourself so that you may then know others.

-Ishvara Pranidhana is devotion.  Let go of the ego and embrace a higher source.  Approach life with a sense of gratitude.

 

-3. The third limb of Ashtanga Yoga is Asana, or yoga postures.  This is the physical form of yoga that we are used to seeing.  It helps us to attain stillness in both mind and body.  The poses create strength and flexibility.

 

The word “Yoga” is derived from the Sanskrit root verb yuj. which means “to join” or “to unite.”  It signifies the joining of the individual with the universal reality.  It also means the union of the conscious mind with the deeper levels of the unconscious, which results in a totally integrated personality.  Just as Ayurvedic practices seek perfect balance in the human body, the yogic ideal of unification is perfect balance or a state of naturalness.  Every living being strives toward this ideal, which is described in the Christian religion as “the peace which passeth all understanding.”  As we begin to search for balance and natural harmony in our own lives, we start to grow on a path that leads to deeper understanding and fulfillment.  At such a time we learn that satisfaction comes from something that is found deep within and does not rely on external stimulation.

 

-4. The fourth limb is Pranayama, or breath control.  With these breathing exercises we can achieve a balanced state of mind.  These are many different exercises that work to invigorate the system and calm the mind.

 

The vital energy called chi by the Chinese and ki by the Japanese is called prana in India.  Prana is seen to be everywhere and in everything; it is the basic force that animates all matter.  In the study of Yoga, the life force, or prana, is closely associated with breathing practices that control and direct this important energy.  Freed and able to flow throughout the body, it can stimulate both body and mind; blocked and distorted, it can sap and deplete a person’s activities.

 

Pranayama is really the knowledge and control of Prana.  Since it is difficult for us to control the source of all the energy in the universe, we can start learning to control what is nearest to us.  The body and mind is what we have to work with.  It’s as if Prana is the whole ocean, and our own Prana is one wave.  We can learn to control our own wave.  Breathing exercises are a tool we can use to help us to become aware of our Prana.  There are many different practices, but each movement of pranayama involves the inhalation, retention, and exhalation of breath.  This practice is said to purify the mind, and remove distractions from the mind so that we can concentrate more easily.

 

-5. The fifth limb is Pratyahara, or controlling the senses.  This is practicing detachment from the distractions of life.

 

Pratyahara is translated as a “gathering towards oneself” and it is in practice a restraint of the senses.  We are so easily distracted, as our senses take our attention away from whatever it is we are supposed to be focusing on.  Meditation requires stillness and concentration, so practicing pratyahara is a necessary step towards controlling the senses.  The senses constantly take our attention outward, to the external world, away from the inner world.  We get uncomfortable sitting in the same position, we hear a phone ring, or we smell dinner cooking and we feel that urge to get up.

 

Raja Yoga teaches us that although the mind is active, that is not where we get our intelligence.  We get our intelligence from the soul.  The mind is the instrument through which we interpret the world.  The soul knows the truth.  The soul carries higher knowledge.  We must calm the mind so that we can access this knowledge.  The analogy of a lake is often used to describe how our perception is altered.  When the lake is stirred up, it becomes muddy and unclear.  We can’t see through to the bottom.  However, when the lake is calm, the water is crystal

 

These are the last three limbs are internal practices.

 

-6. Dharana is concentration.  The idea is to fix our attention on one focal point.  This helps us to gain equanimity, poise, and grace. The way to concentrate the mind is to focus it on one particular object, to the exclusion of everything else.  The object could be outside the body, such as a flower, or a candle.  Or the object could be inside the body, such as the heart center, or the top of the forehead.  The idea is to keep the mind still by having it hold only this object, not allowing the senses to give in to distractions, and not allowing thoughts to stray from that object.

Dharana is a practice of training the mind to be still and focus.  Concentration is like a muscle; we can work it and develop it.  Over time it becomes stronger and more sustained.  This is why a regular practice of meditation is so important.   For our concentration to become, and remain, strong, we must use it.

 

-7. Dhyana is meditation.  The purpose of meditation is to quiet the mind and open the heart.  In this way we become aware of our connection with the Divine.

When the mind is able to sustain concentration over a period of time, this is called Dhyana, or meditation.  In this step, the seventh in Raja Yoga, a power flows through the mind toward the object of concentration.  The meditator does not sense the object itself, but merely the essence of the object.  It is as if the object of meditation and the meditator become one.  The effort that we dealt with in Dharana ceases, and concentration is easy and natural.  In Dhyana the mind does not waver.  The meditator does not even think of the process of meditating anymore. We are not aware of time or space.

 

The calm state of mind that we experience in meditation helps us to handle any stresses or problems that come our way during the day.  Meditation helps us to maintain a peace of mind that serves us no matter what happens in the external world.

 

-8. Samadhi is super-consciousness.  It is also called bliss, union, or enlightenment.  It is when we experience the presence of the Divine with our entire self, body mind and soul.

Finally, in the highest state of meditation, Samadhi, the meditator becomes lost in the process.  Samadhi means “absorption” and also “divine peace.”  In Samadhi the meditator dissolves; the meditator becomes one with the whole universe.  Samadhi is absolute bliss, or superconsciousness.

 

When Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi are all three practiced together, this is called “Samyama.”  In our house analogy, Samyama is like turning on the light – it is illuminating the Truth.  All the work has been done, and now all that has to happen is that we flip a switch.  And lo and behold, we can see clearly and confidently.

 

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06 Mar

Did You Know…? Entrancing Sleep Trivia!

When you need some stimulating party conversation, why not talk sleep? The topic of sleep is far from a snoozefest! I’ve scoured the internet to uncover some captivating tidbits that are sure to get your audience’s attention!

 

Can’t Sleep?

  • More than 70 million Americans suffer from a sleep disorder. 60% of those have a chronic disorder, meaning it has occurred over a long period of time.
  • There are at least 84 different sleep disorders identified by researchers.
  • Insomnia is almost twice as common in women as it is in men.
  • New parents will miss an average of six month’s sleep during the first two years of their baby’s life.
  • Neither mother’s nor father’s pre-pregnancy sleep pattern fully recovers even when the child reaches six years of age.
  • 50% of women with children, and 41% of women without children, say that sleep is the best way for them to recharge.
  • Sleep deprivation was used as an interrogation technique dating back to the 16th The United Nations recognizes sleep deprivation as a form of torture, and it is now illegal in many countries.
  • Adults get tired when they haven’t gotten enough sleep, but children often react by becoming hyperactive. When a child stays up too late or misses a nap, the body makes more cortisol and adrenaline so that he can stay awake. Parents often describe this as the child “fighting sleep.”
  • Stress is cited as the culprit in 65% of people who say they have problems sleeping.

 

Sleep History

  • The legend of the “Sandman” originated in European folklore. This traditional character appears in many children’s books and stories. The Sandman is said to sprinkle sand or dust on the eyes of children at night to help them fall asleep and have sweet dreams. The morning grit found in the corners of the eyes upon waking was supposed to be the result of the Sandman’s visit the night before.
  • “Mr. Sandman” is a popular song written by Pat Ballard in 1954 and recorded by the Chordettes and the Four Aces.
  • In Greek mythology, the god of sleep is Hypnos. Sleep-inducing plants such as poppies grew at the entrance of Hypnos’ home. The name Hypnos is the origin of the word “hypnosis.”
  • The 97th Pokémon (an internationally popular Japanese media franchise) character is named Hypnos, and its signature power is putting others to sleep.
  • In Roman mythology, the god of sleep is named Somnus. From Somnus come the words somnolent meaning sleepy, and insomnia, or “not” sleep.
  • William Shakespeare made several references to sleep in his plays. His accurate depictions of insomnia have led scholars to think that Shakespeare likely suffered from insomnia himself.

 

Sleep Behavior

  • Who sleeps? All complex living organisms including mollusks, insects, amphibians, birds, and mammals… except for:
  • Jellyfish don’t sleep because they don’t have a brain.
  • Sea Urchins also do not have a brain, so they do not sleep
  • Bullfrogs don’t sleep, they are alert both day and night. Scientists haven’t figured out why this is yet.
  • Some insects, such as butterflies, don’t technically “sleep” but rather enter a state known as “torpod” where the body temperature is lowered and they appear dormant. This enables them to go without food for longer periods of time.
  • A baby dolphin doesn’t sleep for the first full month of her life. The mother also stays awake during this time to protect her child from predators until she can fend for herself.
  • Rather than sleeping through the night, giraffes take short power naps in the daytime. It is important for them to stay alert so that they don’t fall down or become vulnerable to a predator. They get about 2 hours of sleep total in a day.
  • Whales also nap in 10-15-minute breaks, and only get about 1 ½ hours of sleep a day. Sperm whales sleep vertically, so that it looks like they are sleeping standing up.
  • Koalas are known as the animals who sleep the most, up to 22 hours a day.
  • Housecats sleep from 16-20 hours a day, with newborn and elderly cats sleeping the most. However, cats can awaken almost instantly if they hear a strange sound. It is a part of the nature that they inherited from their wild counterparts. They are always alert, even when they sleep.
  • We have an average of four to six dreams each night, even if we don’t remember those dreams. About two hours of sleep each night is spent dreaming.

 

Do you have some interesting Sleep Trivia to share? We’d love to hear it! Please post on the Better Sleep Council’s Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/BetterSleepOrg

 

 

https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/data_statistics.html

https://academic.oup.com/sleep/article/42/4/zsz015/5289255

https://www.optalert.com/sleep-deprivation-as-a-form-of-torture/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15124720/

https://www.verywellfamily.com/reasons-your-child-may-be-hyperactive-1094971

https://bettersleep.org/research/survey-gender-affects-sleep-and-stress/

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

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

https://animalhow.com/which-animals-do-not-sleep-5-species/

https://returntonow.net/2020/11/29/sleeping-whales-photographer-reveals-what-whales-look-like-when-they-snooze/

http://www.animalplanet.com/pets/normal-sleep-time-for-a-cat/

 

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15 Nov

ASMR: “Tingles” for Sleep

                                 Find More Sleep Tips from The Better Sleep Council

There are more than 13 million ASMR videos on YouTube, with hundreds of millions of views. Most of the videos are designed to help people get into a super-relaxed state so that they can relieve stress and sleep better. There are also many popular audio-only ASMR recordings available for download on streaming services. Just what is this trending phenomenon and how does it work?

 

ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. Basically, it is a response to a gentle stimulus that is felt both physically and emotionally and has been found to produce physiological benefits. The sensations vary amongst those who experience it but most report that the effect is a sense of calm and relaxation. The physical sensations usually begin in the head, and move into the neck and shoulders, even down to the base of the spine. Some say that they also experience the sensations in their limbs. It can feel like tingles, chills or gentle waves. The pleasing emotional effects are what cause people to seek out ASMR, and are often described as calming, happy, euphoric, relaxing, or sleepy. One study showed a reduction in heart rate and an increase in positive emotions for those who experienced ASMR. Some participants even reported a reduction in chronic pain.

 

What is surprising is that these effects are the result of a stimulus that is quite gentle, and subtle. It could be as simple and mundane as the tapping or a finger. Or it could be intricate and complex, such as the reenactment of a typical visit to the hair salon.

 

ASMR can be experienced in two ways. The first, and most common, is through using external stimuli. This is where the YouTube videos come in handy. Yet it’s easy to create your own external triggers once you know what they are. The other way to experience ASMR is through internal stimuli, such as creative visualization, or meditation techniques.

 

“Triggers” fall into three different categories. Auditory stimuli could be the sound of a whisper, reported as the most popular ASMR trigger. You don’t even need to hear the actual words, just the soft vocal tones can set off ASMR. Other auditory triggers include a monotone voice, soft tapping, scratching, crinkling paper, or blowing. It could be the sound of slowly clicking through the teeth of a comb, or the sound of hair being cut, or brushed.

 

Visual stimuli may be experienced either internally or externally. Taking yourself back to a restful place, or looking at the ocean, for example, can trigger ASMR. Writing is another common trigger, as is eye contact, and page flipping. Some say that flowing hand movements sets off ASMR in them.

 

Tactile stimuli can also evoke ASMR, such as touching soft fabrics like velvet, or stroking a pet. It’s no surprise that a massage can be very relaxing, and for some this may be ASMR at play. A light touch, such as a gentle caress of the face, can also trigger ASMR.

 

All of these stimuli are comforting, gentle, repetitive and non-threatening. They are performed slowly, steadily, and predictably. Researchers say that the most effective types of stimuli for ASMR include the person receiving attention in some way, through grooming or other care. You’ll notice that many ASMR recordings include a combination of stimuli for greater effect. The presenter speaks to the viewer personally – slowly and quietly, in a pleasant and reassuring tone. This helps the viewer feel relaxed and cared for, a state of mind that contributes to the desired response.

 

Research suggests that the same brain chemicals that are produced in the process of bonding, which also creates a sense of comfort and calm, are responsible for ASMR. Endorphins, sometimes called our “happy” chemicals, can bring on a tingling sensation and sense of euphoria. Endorphins also stimulate the release of dopamine. Dopamine is what drives us to look for stimuli that triggers the release of endorphins. Then there’s oxytocin, also called the “bonding hormone” that produces feelings of contentment and trust.  Oxytocin increases our sensitivity to endorphins, and also stimulates the release of another brain chemical, serotonin. Serotonin helps to give us that feeling of well-being and sense of satisfaction, and also gets us feeling happier in general.

 

Each of us produces these brain chemicals that are said to be the cause of ASMR. And yet, the ASMR experience varies widely from person to person. It may be that we just need to find the right trigger for ourselves, or it may be a difference within our own genes. Just as some people taste spice differently, some preferring lots of heat and others more sensitive to even the smallest bit, our need for a stronger or weaker ASMR stimulus could be genetic. However, we can train ourselves to be more sensitive to stimuli, and thereby more likely to experience ASMR. First, experiment with a few of the more common ASMR triggers to see which appeals to and works for you. Then, just as you would before meditation, find a safe and comfortable environment where you can relax. Since this is meant to be used as a sleep aid, feel free to lie down. If it’s bedtime, tuck yourself into bed. Clear your mind and focus on the stimulus and check in with your body and emotions to better understand where and how you may feel a response.

 

ASMR recordings are most frequently used to help people get into a relaxed state so that they can fall sleep more easily and sleep more soundly. These recordings are similar to the guided meditations that have been used for many years to help with sleep problems. Listening to a recording, or watching a video, helps to focus our attention and keep us from being distracted by all the unresolved problems of the day. It helps to relax the body, releasing muscle tension, and allowing for deeper, slower breathing. This is a great way to self-soothe, with no negative side-effects, and no financial investment.

 

Resources:

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/06/180621101334.htm

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4380153/

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08 Nov

A Simple Scientific Analysis to Reveal Your Profound Fundamental Reality

Axiom 1: A thing can only know itself directly

Any simple example can make this clear. Let’s say a storage drive. It can only “know” what is stored within it. It cannot know anything outside of itself directly. The only way the drive can know anything outside of itself is when information about that thing reaches the drive and gets stored within it, and the only thing the drive can know about the outside thing is that information stored within it — nothing more nothing less. (The word “know” has been used for a non-living thing only symbolically and represents what information that thing has access to).

Same thing holds true for a processor. It can only know and process information that gets inside it. In order for anything outside to get processed, it has to get inside the processor and that is all the processor can know and process.

In fact, it holds true for any random example. For instance, take a self-driving car. The car only knows what is within it. An outside object is known by the car only when information about that object enters the car’s systems through its various sensors. That information is what the car knows and not the object directly.

So, to generalize: X can only know X directly. If X knows anything about Y which is outside X, it is only because some information about Y has entered X, and that is all what X knows about Y. X cannot know Y directly unless Y itself enters into X.

This can be applied to absolutely anything in this universe (and beyond). And it makes complete sense as it cannot be any other way.

Corollary 1: You only know yourself directly

Now apply this to yourself and what you know. Seeing is one way of knowing. What does the eye see? Does it see the objects outside directly? Do the objects enter the eye directly? Not quite. The eye only sees light that reflects off these objects, enters the eye, gets absorbed at the retina and becomes internal to the eye. Same thing applies to hearing, touching, tasting and smelling (the only other ways you know something). Information (air waves, etc.) travels to the respective sense organs (ears, etc.) and gets absorbed, and the sense organ only knows that which is within it.

Even the brain (or the central nervous system) only knows itself and the activities within it. Some of this activity is caused by information that reaches the brain through the peripheral nervous system. For example, the light that gets absorbed at the retina is converted into neuro-signals that travel to the brain through the optic nerves, reach the vision center and stir certain neural activity there. Same thing applies to all other sense perceptions (sound, touch, taste and smell). Respective neuro-signals get generated at the different sense organs, travel to the respective centers in the brain and stir different neural activities. The brain also has some of its own internal neural activity (known as thoughts, etc.). And that’s all the brain ever knows — itself and the activities within it.

But does that explain what you actually know or experience? If the buck stopped at the brain and that is all what you knew, you would have known yourself as a slushy gray matter with neurons firing left, right and center. But that’s not the case. Your experience is something very different, something very vivid — a world full of sights, sounds and sensations, with some part of it more tangible (sense perceptions) and some less tangible (thoughts, etc.).

This entity which is knowing such a vivid world within itself is called consciousness, and this consciousness is what you actually are. That is because you only ever know what is within consciousness and never anything outside of consciousness directly. And since you can only know what is within yourself directly, you must be the consciousness itself, knowing a vivid world within yourself. You, the consciousness, are neither the brain nor even a part or product of the brain but something completely different, which will become clearer with the next axiom.

Axiom 2: The whole cannot be known by parts

If something is made up of parts, each part just knows itself directly (as per axiom 1), independent of other parts. There is no way for this conglomeration of parts to directly know the sum total of what is known by all its individual parts.

Consider the example of a distributed system consisting of many computers. Each computer that is a part of the distributed system only knows what is within itself directly. Computers may exchange information with each other over the network but at any given point in time each computer only knows what is within itself directly. There is no way for the whole distributed system to directly know the sum total of what is known by all its individual computers. Whenever information is accessed from the distributed system it only comes from one or more of its individual computers that have that information.

Same thing applies to everything made up of parts. And guess what? Everything in this universe is made up of parts because the universe is nothing but a conglomeration of smaller and smaller particles (quarks, leptons, bosons, strings, etc.) coming together to form larger and larger structures and systems. So, even when we said that the eye knows itself directly, it only meant that the individual cells that make up the eye know themselves directly. Each cell functions independently by processing information that reaches it and passing it on to the next set of cells. That’s why the eye doesn’t really “see” anything. It’s just a distributed system of cells processing light, converting it into neuro-signals and passing those on to the brain, with no way for the eye to really “see” the sum total of information being processed by all its individual cells. In fact, even the cells are further made up of smaller parts and so no.

Corollary 2: You are partless consciousness

The above axiom is also true of the brain as it’s also nothing but a conglomeration of cells. It’s not possible for the brain to directly know the sum total of all the information and activity within its parts simultaneously as a coherent world of sights, sounds and sensations. Even a part of the brain cannot do that as every part will itself be made up of smaller parts. This is very powerful reasoning why you can neither be the brain nor a part of it. Moreover, you cannot be a product of the brain either, as anything made up of parts can only produce something that is also made up of parts, with a part of the source producing a part of the product. If a product of the brain will also be made up of parts, it will have the same issue of not being able to directly know the sum total of what is known by all its individual parts.

Since you, the consciousness, know a vivid world within yourself as a whole, you cannot be made up of parts. Hence, you are partless consciousness which is neither a part nor a product of the brain (or any other part of the body or the whole body for that matter), You, the partless consciousness, are an entity completely different from the brain and the body.

Axiom 3: Partless implies Infinite

So far the analysis was of objects that are part of the world we know and hence easier to understand. But this axiom is going to be very subtle because we have never encountered any object in this world that is partless as they are all made up of smaller and smaller parts and particles. We have no experience of what a partless entity could be like. Some subtle thinking can reveal it though.

If an entity is partless, it must also be formless. Because a form needs different parts to come together in a certain way to build that form. Even the most nondescript form (like a spherical object) has different sides to it (this side, opposite side, inside, outside, etc.). Anything which has sides must have parts too as only different parts can make up the different sides. When something is in contact with one side of an entity, it can only be in contact with a part of the entity and not with the other parts which make up the other sides. Hence, an entity that is partless will also be formless.

If an entity is formless, it has to be limitless or infinite in every dimension. Because if it’s limited in even one dimension, that will result in a boundary, and boundaries define a form. For example, an infinite line is limitless only in one dimension but limited in other dimensions and hence still possess the form of a line. Similarly, an infinite plane is limitless in two dimensions but limited in the third dimension and hence still possess the form of a plane. Hence, anything which is limited in even one dimension will possess a form imposed by that dimension. Hence, an entity that is formless will also be limitless or infinite in every dimension.

Corollary 3: You are Infinite Consciousness, the One and only Reality, and the whole universe is only an appearance within you

As implied by the above axiom, you, the partless consciousness, are also formless and limitless in every possible dimension. Which means nothing else exists outside of you. Because if anything else exists outside of you, it implies a limit where you end and the other entity begins. This means that the whole universe (and anything else) must all be within you. Moreover, since you are partless whereas the universe is made up of parts, it cannot be real and must only be a false appearance within you, as nothing real made up of parts can exist within a partless entity. Hence, you are the one and only Infinite Reality that actually exists. It’s important to note that you are also unchanging as change is only possible from one finite to another finite on at least one dimension whereas you are Infinite in every possible dimension.

Important question: If you are Infinite Consciousness, the One and only Reality, and the whole universe is an appearance within you, then why do you seem to know only a part of it and that too channeled through a brain and a set of sense organs housed within a body?

Here’s an explanation: Since you are Consciousness, your very nature is to know yourself. But since you are Infinite you cannot know yourself directly in entirety, because anything that is known in entirety is limited to that knowing and hence finite. Hence you, the Infinite Reality, cannot know yourself as you actually are but only as you are not i.e. as false finite things. Since there are infinite possibilities of the type of false finite things that can appear within the Infinite, every possible imaginable and unimaginable finite thing is actually appearing within you. One set of such false finite appearances are dream-like virtual reality simulations. Within each simulation, there is an appearance of a brain and a set of sense organs and other organs housed within a body that represents a living being, through which a world teeming with other beings and things seems be known or experienced. You, the Infinite Consciousness, are knowing each simulation individually as all of them are appearing within you. If you would have known multiple simulations together, it would have become a hodge-podge, with too many overlapping sights, sounds and sensations, which would have not made any sense. Hence the best way to know these simulations is to know them individually and separate from each other. All these simulations are still interconnected as they are all appearing within you, the Infinite Consciousness, and hence they share common objects and events. Each of these dream-like simulations have such a structure that you tend to feel identified with a fake body-mind complex appearing within that simulation (just like it happens during a dream), but you are never actually identified and always remain unattached from the simulation. Nothing of the simulation can ever affect or harm you in any way as it’s not real.

Finally, since Infinite Consciousness cannot be known directly in entirety as it actually is, it can never be available for direct investigation making it impossible to describe its actual nature. But this much is very clear from the above analysis that you are none other than the Infinite Partless Consciousness, the One and only Unchanging Reality that actually exists!

(This article was cross-posted from happinessjourney.net/post/667314451407568896/a-simple-scientific-analysis-to-reveal-your)

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04 Sep

Healthy Sleep Habits

By now you’ve likely heard many of the great habits you can get into that aid in the experience of a good night’s sleep. I’m here to share with you about some of the great habits you can get into, even while you are sleeping, so that your body can operate most efficiently for optimal health and healing.

 

Sleep on Your Left Side

The best sleep position for most people is to sleep on your left side. While this may be news today, the wisdom originally comes from Ayurveda, India’s 5,000-year-old Science of Life. The left and right sides of the body are very different from one another. For example, the lymph system is more dominant on the left side of the body. This is because most of the body’s lymph fluid drains into the thoracic duct, which then goes into the left side of the heart, left jugular vein, and left subclavian vein. So, it makes sense that sleeping on the left side benefits the lymphatic drainage system. The lymph system is our first line of detox in the body, so it is the first to become congested when overworked.

 

The spleen is an important part of the lymphatic system, and it is located on the left side of the body. The spleen filters both lymph and blood. While sleeping on your left side, drainage to the spleen gets an assist from gravity. When we move, and the muscles contract, the lymph system can drain all the body’s cells. By sleeping on our left side, we are allowing gravity to help the lymph drain to the heart and the spleen.

 

Sleeping on the left side is also good for the heart. The largest artery in the body is the aorta. The aorta goes from the top of the heart, arches to the left, and then goes down to the abdomen. When we sleep on the left, it is easier for the heart to pump blood downhill into the descending aorta.

 

For better digestion and elimination, sleeping on the left side is the way to go. The large intestine is situated so that it goes up the right side of the stomach area, then across so that it can deposit waste into the colon going down the left side. Gravity is once again our ally when we sleep on the left side. After sleeping well, the descending colon is ready for an easy and complete elimination of waste in the morning.

 

Use a Humidifier

A cool-air humidifier helps to bring moisture into a room, which benefits us in many ways. When the air we breathe is too dry, lacking humidity, we can experience respiratory problems such as sinus inflammation, bronchitis, asthma, or nosebleeds. Dry air can also make us become dehydrated more quickly. When the body gets dried out, it is more susceptible to bacterial infections. We may experience a dry throat, and dry eyes. We may notice dry skin, chapped lips, or eczema. On the other hand, when the humidity in a room is at 45-55%, we breathe more easily and sleep more soundly. A humidifier helps to re-moisturize air that has been dried out from weather, or from air conditioning and heating systems.

 

Another upside to using a humidifier is that you’re much less likely to snore! When you breathe in humid air, rather than dry air, the throat and nasal cavity are less likely to get dried out. The air is free to move through these channels as you breathe, so the snoring sounds don’t occur. If it’s your partner who snores, and you’re the one who is awake because of it, a humidifier will benefit both of you.

 

In addition, a humidifier helps to prevent the skin for drying out while you sleep. While drinking enough water during the day helps to keep us hydrated, using a humidifier at night can help us stay hydrated from the outside in, so that we wake up feeling fresh and rested.

 

Most newer humidifiers run very quietly, giving just a small amount of white-noise, which can be an added benefit to sleep. If you prefer to run a humidifier during the day, it will likely moisturize the air enough to get you through the night with the humidifier off.

 

Another way to incorporate humidity into your room is to run a hot shower or bath, and let the steam moisturize the room. While you’re at it, a steamy shower will also help to open up and moisturize your sinuses.

 

You can also use saline nasal sprays, or the Ayurvedic “neti pot” to irrigate and clean the sinuses. Eating spicy foods is another way to quickly relieve sinus pressure from dry air. If you’re up for it, try having some hot salsa, jalapeno peppers, or chili peppers. Even one bite can make your nose run and your eyes water!

 

Have an After-Dinner Drink

We’ve all heard how warm milk can settle us into sleep – and it’s true! Ayurveda has an even better beverage for us, which is healthy in many other ways as well. It’s called “Moon Milk” and it is fabulous! If you are vegan, or just avoiding dairy, substitute unsweetened nut milk instead. Each ingredient has a purpose. Turmeric is an anti-inflammatory. Cinnamon helps to reduce blood clotting, and is an anti-oxidant. Cardamom is known as the “Queen of Spices” and it can calm heartburn and nausea. In addition, cardamom is a natural breath freshener! Nutmeg is a natural sleep aid. Ashwagandha soothes the nervous system. Ginger is great for digestion, and ghee is used as a carrier to get all the herbs where they need to go in the body. If you’re looking for a healthy and delicious night cap, Moon Milk is it!

 

Moon Milk Recipe (1 serving)

1 cup milk (I prefer unsweetened almond milk, use any kind of milk you like)

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground turmeric

¼ teaspoon ashwaganda (easy to find online, or in Indian grocery stores)

1 pinch of nutmeg

1 pinch of ground ginger

1 teaspoon ghee (Ghee is clarified butter, look for ghee that is cultured and organic for the best quality)

 

In a small saucepan, over medium-low heat, bring milk to a simmer. Add in the herbs one by one, whisking as you go. Add the ghee, and reduce the heat to low. Continue to cook for 7-10 minutes to let the herbs incorporate into the liquid. Remove from heat and pour into a mug. Add a little bit of raw sugar if you like it on the sweet side.

 

For more info about how to get a great night’s sleep visit: The Better Sleep Council’s website HERE

 

https://www.nature.com/articles/nature14432

https://www.kenhub.com/en/library/anatomy/thoracic-duct

https://www.nycfacemd.com/sinus-health-dry-air/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/snoring/symptoms-causes/syc-20377694

https://bmcinfectdis.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-2334-13-71

https://www.bonappetit.com/story/this-recipe-for-moon-milk-is-better-than-counting-sheep

 

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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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04 Apr

Moody Much?

Moody Much? The Effects of Sleep on Our Moods

By Lissa Coffey

 

Ever have one of those days? You know the ones – when you are out of sorts and easily irritated, when nothing seems to be working and everything takes more effort? We’ve all been there. And though we tend to blame the traffic, or our co-workers, or the weather, chances are the real culprit that we haven’t gotten enough sleep.

 

Sleep research shows that there is a definite correlation between being sleep deprived, and feeling angry, hostile, and irritable. In addition, a chronic lack of sleep is associated with depression and anxiety.

 

When it comes to emotions, sleep deprivation seems to be the cause of increased emotional reactivity. People who experience sleep loss are much more likely to have a negative reaction when things don’t go well for them. Why is this? It’s got to do with the brain and the part of the brain known as the amygdala. The amygdala is responsible for processing negative emotion. When we don’t get enough sleep there’s a disconnect between the amygdala and the area in the brain that regulates its functions. So, sleep loss affects us in two ways: we are more likely to experience negative emotions (or worse than usual negative moods), and we also have less of an ability to regulate those moods.

 

A lack of sleep also affects our positive moods – making them less positive. Without adequate sleep we feel less happy, less friendly, and less compassionate. Even when something great happens for us, for example we win an award, we don’t experience it as positively as we would have if we had gotten enough sleep. Even losing just one hour of sleep could cause us to feel nervous, hopeless, or restless.

 

The good news is that a good night’s sleep can restore these brain connections so that the next day we can do better, and be better, both socially and emotionally. And of course, it follows that adequate, quality sleep promotes positive moods and a sense of well-being.

 

By understanding that this is the case, we can avoid taking on big challenges or confrontations on those days when we haven’t had enough sleep the night before, thereby avoiding possible conflicts and disappointments. We can also wait until days we’ve slept well the night before to celebrate our accomplishments, so that we can enjoy the moment that much more. This understanding also helps us to be more patient with our friends, neighbors and co-workers, and maybe not take it too personally when they snap at us for seemingly no reason.

 

If sleep deprivation continues, emotional problems can become exacerbated. The risk for developing emotional disorders such as depression and anxiety increases. Lack of sleep over time can impair memory, cause us to exercise less and eat less healthfully. We also tend to be less likely to participate in social or leisure activities when we suffer from sleepiness. Chronic lack of sleep affects our relationships, and our work life. In terms of emotions, those few bad days of bad moods can end up turning into weeks as we fall into the habitual lack of sleep. A 1997 study found that insomnia, defined as habitual sleeplessness, or the inability to sleep, increases the risk of a person developing symptoms of depression by more than tenfold.

 

If you’ve been sleeping poorly or feeling depressed for four weeks or more then it is important to address the problem. Experts say that one of the first signs of depression is difficulty with sleep. Lack of sleep and depression often go hand in hand, and it can be difficult to determine which came first. Many who don’t sleep enough are depressed, and many who are depressed don’t sleep well. The same holds true for anxiety. Anxiety makes it difficult to fall asleep. It also makes it difficult to fall back to sleep when we wake up in the middle of the night. Stress affects us in the same way. It makes the body alert and aroused, in the “fight or flight” mode, so that we can’t relax enough to get to sleep. Depression and anxiety cause us to wake up more often in the night, which means we miss out on the vital deep sleep that the mind and body needs to function optimally.

 

Another sleep issue that comes with depression is “hypersomnia” or excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS). Hypersomnia is when you sleep too much and have trouble staying awake. People with hypersomnia feel abnormally sleepy even when they’ve gotten adequate sleep. As many as 40% of adults with depression struggle with this.

 

Treating a sleep issue often reduces the symptoms of depression and anxiety. When we sleep well, we feel good. Good sleep helps us to be happier by nurturing our mental and emotional resilience. Sleep also contributes to a robust immune system which helps the body to stay healthy.

 

As you can see, mental health and sleep are intricately connected in many ways. Help yourself to maintain emotional health by following the guidelines that the Better Sleep Council recommends for a good night’s sleep including:

 

– Making your bedroom a sleep sanctuary – keep electronics out, keep the room dark and cool, and invest in a comfortable supportive mattress

– Getting some exercise and sunshine daily

– Getting to bed by 10 pm, and avoiding screen time an hour before bed.

 

There are many more great sleep tips and articles on the BetterSleep.org website.

 

If you are concerned that you might be experiencing depression, or if you have been feeling hopeless and constantly tired for more than four weeks, reach out to a mental health professional. Not sleeping enough, or not getting enough quality sleep, despite following sleep recommendations, or feeling sleepy no matter how much sleep you are getting, could be symptoms of depression or anxiety. It is important to see a professional, especially if you are having suicidal thoughts. You can also call one of these hotlines:

 

Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

MentalHelp hotline: 1-888-993-3112

 

Sources:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/articles/201401/between-you-and-me

 

https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/emotions-cognitive

 

http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/need-sleep/whats-in-it-for-you/mood

 

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/Mood-and-sleep

 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6386825/

 

https://www.healthline.com/health/anxiety-insomnia

 

 

 

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04 Nov

Sleep Quotes and the Wisdom (or Not) Behind Them

Sleep is one thing we all have in common. No matter where you live, how old you are, or what language you speak, if you’re alive, then you sleep. Since we’ve all been doing this sleeping thing our whole lives, we might just have some thoughts to share on the subject. And if you happen to be a celebrity, these thoughts might be shared with the public. Let’s look at some of these famous quotes about sleep, and see if we’re getting good advice.

 

“Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”  – Benjamin Franklin

 

Franklin was likely speaking from experience. His routine was that he would sleep from 10 pm to 5 am. Today, that’s the same routine for other successful people, including Jeff Bezos and Arianna Huffington. Ellen DeGeneres gets in her eight hours from 11pm to 7pm. However, Elon Musk and Barack Obama get to bed later, at 1 am, and then sleep until 7 am. So, can we thrive on less sleep?

 

There’s more than comes into play, including how people spend their daytime hours. Are you getting enough exercise and sunshine? Are you eating healthy foods? The quality of sleep you get it also very important. A study at John Hopkins University found that short but uninterrupted sleep is better than long hours of interrupted sleep. This is because interruption doesn’t allow the brain to go through all the sleep stages we need for energy and mental alertness. So, if you are getting that deep, uninterrupted sleep, even for fewer hours, and you are functioning optimally during that day maybe you don’t need as much sleep.

 

Research has shown that a good night’s sleep does make us smarter – or at least perform better on tests. A study at KU Leuven University in Belgium found higher test scores for students who slept seven hours each night during the exam period than those who got less sleep. The research accounted for differences in study habits, health and socioeconomic backgrounds.

 

Work eight hours and sleep eight hours and make sure that they are not the same hours. – T. Boone Pickens

Here’s a successful guy who believed in balance. Work, sleep, and then also live your life. Good advice. If you’re working too much and not giving the mind some downtime to rest before sleep, you’ll have a more difficult time getting to sleep, and probably not sleep as well.

 

I need nine hours of sleep because of all the activity I do. It doesn’t always happen, but I really try. – Ana Ivanovic

 

8 hours sleep is average – the ballpark for most of us. But some people need less, like Elon Musk, apparently! And some of us need more, like pro tennis player Ana Ivanovic. You don’t have to be an athlete, either – expending mental energy also requires a body-mind reset through sleep. If you find yourself yawning in the afternoon, or feeling like you need a nap, you might just need more sleep at night. When you’re getting enough quality nighttime sleep you shouldn’t need to take a nap. Young children and the elderly are exceptions, they usually need a nap in the day.

 

I don’t sleep enough, and it does… what is the opposite of wonders… horrors. It does horrors for my skin. – Kate McKinnon

I think my biggest tip – and I consider it a part of my beauty routine – is getting my sleep, without a doubt. I do a true eight hours. – Tracee Ellis Ross

 

There’s a reason why we call it “Beauty Sleep” and these actresses will tell you! It works both ways. Get good sleep and it shows on your face – your skin, your eyes, your smile. Or stay up too late missing those precious sleep hours and that will show up on your face, too. There’s only so much that make-up can do to hide the signs of lack of sleep. Who better than an actress to confirm this?

 

I drink a ton of water. And I never go to bed too full. – Chrissy Teigen

 

Chrissy Teigen has the right idea when it comes to eating. It’s best not to go to bed on a full stomach, because then your body is busy digesting instead of focusing on getting you into a sleep state. But it’s also not good to go to bed hungry either. Chrissy posts on her Instagram account about her “night eggs” that she swears by for sleep. She eats one lightly seasoned hard-boiled egg before bed, and it give her just enough protein to get her through the night without being hungry. But when it comes to water – it’s great to drink water during the day, but definitely limit your intake after 7 pm or your sleep will be interrupted when you need to get out of bed to visit the bathroom!

 

Never go to bed mad. Stay up and fight. – Phyllis Diller

Make sure you never, never argue at night. You just lose a good night’s sleep and you can’t settle anything until morning anyway. -Rose Kennedy

 

I think we’ve all heard this from marriage and relationship experts: “Never go to bed angry.” Worst advice ever! What is the alternative? Like Phyllis Diller says, stay up and fight? I’m sure Phyllis was joking – how can anyone possibly sleep after getting all riled up in a heated argument? I think Rose Kennedy has a better idea. Never argue at night. Table the argument, go to sleep and figure it out in the morning. Chances are, after a good night’s sleep, the argument won’t seem so important anyway. You’ll be able to think more clearly and may even have dreamt up a solution to the problem!

 

Nothing makes you feel better than when you get into a hotel bed, and the sheets feel so good. Why shouldn’t you wake up like that every day? Spend money on your mattress and bedding because these things make a difference on your sleep and, ultimately, your happiness. -Bobby Berk

 

Bobby Berk is an interior designer and television host. He travels a lot for work, so he knows about staying in hotels. Many people experience a great night’s sleep when they stay in a hotel. And when they come home it’s just not the same. The difference? The mattress. Hotels are really good about getting fresh new mattresses all the time so that their guests are comfortable. So, Bobby is giving us really good advice. A new mattress is an investment in both our health and happiness. And of course, the bedding should feel good when you’re in bed, and look good enough to make you smile when you’re out of bed!

 

 

https://podcasts.hopkinsmedicine.org/december-24-2015-interrupted-sleep/

 

https://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2015/11/13/the-sleep-habits-of-highly-successful-people-infographic/#1459a7376d7f

 

https://nieuws.kuleuven.be/en/content/2014/for-better-marks-get-a-good-nights-sleep

 

 

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19 Oct

Circadian Rhythms and Blues

Nature has a rhythm. We see it in the way the seasons change, the way the tide comes in and out, and the way the sun rises and sets. It all just happens as it is supposed to. A circadian rhythm is the physiological processes of all living animals and plants within about a 24-hour cycle. This rhythm is created internally, but it can be modified by external factors such as temperature and sunlight. When we look at patterns of daily behavior, such as eating and sleeping, circadian rhythms are key.

 

Back in the days before electricity, staying in rhythm with nature’s cycle was the norm. People would wake up with the sun, work in the daylight, and go to bed sometime not too long after dark. It wasn’t that long ago that the few television channels we received signed off at midnight and there was no programming overnight. But now, we live in a 24/7 world. We do business with foreign countries by computer at all times of the day and night. We travel across oceans and time zones in a matter of hours. We don’t have to wait for stores to open, we can shop online anytime we want. And between the thousands of television and radio stations we have access to, along with internet options, we are never lacking in around-the-clock entertainment. Given all the amenities of life that we have access to it’s understandable how easily our own rhythms can get out of synch with nature.

 

Ayurveda, the 5,000-year-old Science of Life from India, says that the mind and body operate most efficiently when we go to bed at the same time each night, 10 pm, and arise at the same time each morning, 6 am. According to Ayurveda, this is an essential practice for people to be in harmony with nature and to be their healthiest and happiest selves. Ayurveda advises that for people who need less sleep, that they get up earlier in the morning. And for those who need more sleep, that they go to bed earlier at night. Meal times are also planned for optimal digestion, with the largest meal of the day consumed around noon.

 

While this sounds like a healthy lifestyle choice, is it possible for everyone?

 

Modern science has identified “chronotypes” amongst people. While habits play a role in this, a person’s chronotype, or internal clock, is most influenced by genetics and can be difficult to change. There are morning birds, and night owls, and many others in between. We each have a chronotype that fits on a bell curve alongside everyone else’s. 30-50 percent of people fall in the middle of this curve, sleeping between the hours of 11 pm and 7 am. About 40 percent of people have sleep cycles that fall about an hour or so down the sides of the curve, sleeping between 10 pm and 6 am, or between midnight and 8 am.

 

Then there are those who fall on the edges of the curve. Many teenagers tend to be in this category as their changing hormones can affect their chronotype. They prefer to stay up later, and wake up later, though this pattern shifts earlier as they age. Because both science and educators have recognized this, some schools are now starting a bit later to help their students to be more alert and productive during class times. With flex schedules, and more jobs available for nighttime workers, for some people it can be a benefit to be a night owl.

 

Having a sleep schedule that is outside the norm can be a problem, as society tends to reward early risers. The expression “the early bird catches the worm” dates back to the 1600s! For those who need to get to bed early and wake up early, it’s not so difficult to fit in. But those whose chronotype gives them the need to stay up late, and wake up late, often struggle conforming to the duties and expectations that come with a 9-5 job.

 

When a person’s body clock is out of sync with society’s clock scientists call it “social jet lag.” Social jet lag puts stress on the body and mind that can affect job performance and undermine health. Research from 2012 showed that those with social jet lag were more likely to be overweight, had a greater risk for depression, and were more likely to participate in risky behaviors such as smoking or drinking. It’s not the chronotype itself that causes these problems, it’s the mismatch between the chronotype and the daily schedule. In addition, if night owls are getting less sleep because they are getting up earlier, while not going to bed earlier, this ongoing sleep deficit can also create a risk for heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.

 

If night owls can’t change their work hours, there are ways that they can shift their internal clock to earlier in the day. However, this requires commitment, and can be difficult to maintain.

One way to shift is through a combination of bright light therapy and melatonin. Usually being out in the sun provides the natural light exposure necessary for our internal clock. But when working from an office all day, we don’t always get the sun we need. There are lamps that mimic the sun that can be helpful. Leaving the curtains open at night so that the morning sun streams in is a good strategy, as is going for an early morning walk or run. With light therapy you must stick to the same schedule every day of the week. If you sleep in on the weekend you can set-back all the progress you’ve made up to that point.

 

The body naturally produces the hormone melatonin at night when it is dark, but melatonin production varies from person to person. Taking a melatonin capsule 3-4 hours before the desired bedtime will help a night owl to feel sleepier earlier than they usually do. Think of this new routine with light therapy and melatonin as a sleep diet, and be diligent with it.

 

Another option to re-set the body clock is chronotherapy. Rather than trying to go to bed earlier than usual, night owls can try going to bed two hours later each night until they reach their desired bedtime. This process can be successful, but it takes about two weeks. Few people have such control over their schedules for that length of time to follow through with the plan.

 

Another strategy for groggy night owls is the midday coffee nap. When you feel tired, adenosine, a chemical that promotes sleep, circulates throughout the body. When you fall asleep, adenosine levels drop. Caffeine competes with adenosine, preventing adenosine from being received by the brain. So, you feel less sleepy. It takes 20 minutes for caffeine to take effect. So, on your lunch break, quickly drink a half of a cup of coffee or so, then set your alarm for a 20-minute nap. This way the body doesn’t get into the deep sleep state. You can also just rest or meditate during that time if you prefer. At the end of the 20 minutes the caffeine starts to kick in, and you also have the energy boost from the quick nap or rest. Just make sure that you don’t consume caffeine any time past 2 pm or you’ll have a more difficult time getting to sleep at bedtime.

 

Whether you’re a night owl or a morning bird, or anything in between, make sure the sleep you get, whenever you get it, is on a comfortable and supportive mattress. This way you’ll wake up refreshed no matter what time it is!

More sleep tips at www.BetterSleep.org

 

https://www.sciencedaily.com/terms/circadian_rhythm.htm

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960982212003259

https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2015/12/18/10450300/case-against-sleeping-in

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/coffee-nap

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3011935/

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15 Jul

Embracing the Unknown

An excerpt from The Ayurvedic Guide to Fertility
by Heather Grzych

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 10 percent, or 6.1 million, women in the United States have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant each year.

 

In The Ayurvedic Guide to Fertility: A Natural Approach to Getting Pregnant (New World Library, May 5, 2020), author and Ayurvedic practitioner Heather Grzych offers a gentle, holistic approach to understanding the physical, emotional, and psychological aspects of fertility based on Ayurveda, an ancient form of medicine that originated in India that means “the science of life.”

 

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

 

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The process of creation is not one that can be controlled — there are so many unknowns — and this can be a little unsettling for a lot of women. However, creation emerges out of vulnerability and even darkness. Creation is dominated by unseen forces that later give rise to something tangible and seen.

 

If you are considering having a child and you want the experience to be as joyous as possible, then first you must understand the process of how things are created and surrender to it. Creation comes from the need for change. It doesn’t come when things are in perfect order. Otherwise, you wouldn’t need anything different to happen in your life; there would be no space for something new.

 

There are variations on how conception occurs. Some women surrender to this process easily, and some after a glass of wine. Some women need to have doctors do it for them. Even when a woman goes to see a doctor for IVF or egg freezing or any other type of intervention used for conception, there is a form of surrender. It is just a different kind of surrender than getting pregnant the old-fashioned way.

 

Your job is to start to get comfortable in the darkness of space — when you don’t have the answers or conclusions. Furthermore, your job as the female is specifically to let creativity happen through you. Yup, it’s time to give up some of that control.

 

How do I sell this idea to you, though, if you are like a lot of other modern women and like to make vision boards and execute plans to get toward where you want to go? It can feel like a real struggle when we cannot make something happen via our own thinking and doing, can’t it? It may feel difficult to let things unfold naturally until we feel we’ve done all we can. However, because conception takes more than one entity, a state of receptivity is important, and this can become compromised if we are trying to control everything. I’m not saying this is easy — receptivity and surrender challenge our fears around trust and even our own self-confidence.

 

In having a baby, you are not the one “making” anything when it actually happens. You are a vessel. You cannot control the outcome. You can try to influence it, but you can’t control it. This is part of why a fertility journey — like any creative endeavor — is a spiritual journey for the modern woman who has a hard time relinquishing control. First, you do the best you can to take care of yourself in your environment, you connect deeply with your partner (literally and figuratively!), and then you roll the dice. You may experience mental anguish in the void, and this is where it’s handy to hold a sense of faith and wonder. Allowing yourself to be surprised by the universe can actually be a really magical thing, sometimes even more fun than planning everything to a T and getting exactly what you want when you want it. Remember the saying “A watched pot never boils”? Well, it applies when you are trying to get pregnant, too.

 

Women who feel the call to conceive often start to grasp for a baby. They want to reach out and grab it, and they will do whatever they can to get it. Sometimes this works, and sometimes it sabotages the whole thing — because if there is too much grasping for the outcome, then there is no room for receiving the gifts that take you to the outcome. The baby you were meant to have will not come by your forcing. It will come by magic.

 

Pathologies are created energetically and physically when there are imbalances of giving, receiving, and grasping. Conception becomes blocked, elusive, or rejected when such pathologies are present. The balance point between receiving and giving is where you find the fertile ground for conception to take place.

 

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Heather Grzych is the author of The Ayurvedic Guide to Fertility. A board-certified Ayurvedic practitioner, she bridges the worlds of conventional and alternative medicine to help women and men heal their physical and emotional lives. Heather is on the board of directors for the National Ayurvedic Medical Association and has consulted with doctors, governments, and insurance companies. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Visit her online at http://heathergrzych.com.

 

Excerpted from the book The Ayurvedic Guide to Fertility. Copyright ©2020 by Heather Grzych. Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.

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