Ruling From Your Higher Self in the World

When in reaction to situations in life – consciously or unconsciously – we are often not reacting to what is actually going on, but to our own inner perception and interpretation of what is going on. This perception and interpretation is coloured by our conditioned beliefs and thought patterns as well as whatever emotional state we are in and any emotional charge the situation may trigger in the many layers of our psyche.

Tied in with our perception and inner reaction, is any investment we may have in the outcomes of the situation. Frustration, aggression, fear and other negative feelings come from concerns of loss in terms of our expectations, hopes and goals and our need or greed to have things our way for a sense of validation, power as well as some sort of emotional or material gain. Add to this, deep or subtle vulnerabilities about self belief, any compromised faith in variables of any situation in terms of what they mean about us or others involved, and we have the main basis for the elements in our lives becoming stressors and challenges that create a roller coaster ride out of our personal experience in dealing with things that matter.

Many personal resources and tools can be gained through insight, self work on conditioned thinking and developing skills in creating success in whatever areas of our life that are at stake.

However, the most foundational game changer is a simple though not necessarily so easy, ability to be consciously present in the moment and shift our identity from thoughts, feelings, self image and life situations so we can observe our own perceptual interpretations and create space to discern, refine and adjust them.

To establish our core identity in the essence of our own pure consciousness and life energy in the present moment, independent of the constant stream of content of our personal experience, creates a sense of freedom of being and greater choice in how to deal with life. More challenges can be transformed into opportunity to be creative, express or aliveness and cultivate positive outcomes.

Mindfulness practice, often subtle and even difficult for those commencing this path, is also best done somewhat differently from other achievements. It is subjective inner work to become more conscious of what is already present here and now, rather than achieving something we don’t already have. It is not so much something to be achieved in the future as it is a realisation then maintenance of attention on what is already here and now without our own separate effort.

Through the awareness of thought and feeling from a place of presence and observation, the space can be created to observe, gain insight and notice the subliminal narrative going on in our minds, which can have the following tangible results:

  1. to become aware of the mind content,
  2. to separate out the subtle mental dialogue or narrative from the situation occurring,
  3. “as is” the situation and our own inner reaction with non-judgement acceptance,
  4. be at choice to accept or release our inner narrative and its effect on how we perceive the situations,
  5. turn negative or limiting beliefs, decisions and interpretations into more positive and constructive ones, before
  6. being present with the narrative and the situation while exercising conscious spaciousness, stillness and silence of mindful presence in faith and trust, then finally
  7. seeing what comes out of simply being fully present throughout a situation and mindfully responding to it with open heart and mind in a truly proactive way that aligns with values and bringing out the best of the situation and those involved.

What is the difference between performing in life situations to consistently and consciously create our own life journey, versus acting reactively and unconsciously so that we are sometimes our own worst enemy and often slaves to conditioned thinking, compromising outcomes while battling to keep pride and a sense of being right intact.

Living in the universal flow from loving mindfulness depends on where your attention is directed in the moment and predominantly over time. It is a balance of conscious presence of being, in honesty with thoughts and actions. By consciousness, I am referring to that present awareness from which thoughts and experience arises and can be observed as practiced in many meditations and meditative activities.

Paramahansa Yogananda sometimes told a wonderful story of a King in India’s ancient past who was considered an enlightened guru to devotees and the kingdom he ruled. One day, one of his devout subjects asked him how the he could remain so transcendent and established in awakened consciousness as a King amidst the many duties and responsibilities of ruling a kingdom while living in a palace amongst extravagant material wealth which could easily become objects of desire, attachment and identity.

The devout subject had doubts about whether such wealth made it easier for the king to emanate such divine happiness or whether it was more a hinderance. Understanding this dilemma could better help him clarify his own journey of awakening and his relationship to the world.

The King observed the subject enviously looking around at the vast rooms and trinkets in the palace. He also recognised the sincerity of his question. So the King filled an ornate bowl to the rim with an oil and gave it to the subject.

The King said, “Please carry this bowl with you around the palace without spilling a drop and memorise every object in each room”. This task took a number of days for the subject to be able to recall all the objects in each room. Meantime, he held the bowl with great care as he stood and walked from room to room, knowing that it would only take a momentary lapse in concentration for him to spill a drop of the oil. Finally, he came back to the King and while still holding the bowl steadily he simultaneously recounted the many objects in each of the many rooms of the palace.

The King acknowledged him and then said, “Just as you have consistently maintained this full bowl of oil during your task, so does the awakened mind consistently maintain mindful presence throughout performing worldly tasks during each moment of life. Just as you have memorised each and every trinket in the palace, so have you learned non-attachment with your attention on the enormous task of memorising them all. Carry your inner attention as devoutly as you have the bowl without spilling a drop of open minded awareness. Attend to your life duties and relationships with the same devout attention as you have in memorising each and every item in this palace. In this way, you will be a King of your own Self and transform your heart and mind into a palace of wisdom, devotion and love”.

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Facing Death to Better Face Life

There are three big benefits from contemplating death in a positive sense. Firstly, it adds to appreciating every living moment, making the most of it, and not taking things and others for granted. Secondly, it adds a sobering depth and motivation to contemplating the big picture of life and contemplating spiritual meanings. Thirdly, it gives perspective on what the little things and big things are in life and worth your energy and focus. In other words, what is important and not taking too much too seriously.

In terms of spiritual growth and general maturity, as we let go of fear and embrace life more fully, one of the final fears to face and move through is the fear of loss and death. It may not be the concept of death that is frightening but times in your life when you come close to it personally or with someone close, or when you get a sense of letting go fully into something unknown where your own sense of self is put to the test, then facing death and fear of death can seem pretty close.

Spiritual awakening as a transformation ultimately hits the chord of any fear of death, because true awakening marks the end of identification with the ego self. This can feel like a type of death for the part of us we are letting go. In the Bhagavad Gita (Gita 6:37-39), Arjuna’s question reveals one of the final fears and anxieties in the mind of one who has recognised the truths in Sri Krishna’s teachings yet still has doubt in himself to fulfil them. Self doubt feeds this final fear when we are poised to let go of what is tangible and familiar to the ego mind and step in faith towards the values and consciousness of the higher Self. Essentially Arjuna is asking what happens to a person who is unsuccessful in yoga (spiritual union) who has let go of material identity but has not mastered his mind, so ends up short on union of consciousness as well as material success and identity. It is a fear of being lost between worlds, of failure and loss in gaining nothing.

Sri Krishna’s answer (Gita 6:40-44) reveals the Gita’s view of life and death. He reflects on the immortality of spirit as consciousness and that anyone with good intentions and actions will never meet with an evil plight or death. The idea of reincarnation is a strong part of Indian thought and culture, providing a context and karmic rationale for both heavenly and worldly, life and death consequences for choices about living one’s life. Whether you are of a culture or personal belief in reincarnation back in the material world or incarnations through higher levels of spiritual realms beyond this world, the same principles apply, whereby salvation does not arrive by merit of a heavenly pass at death. Rather death is just a portal to further ongoing existence and where we continue to reap what we have sown, playing the main role in our own salvation and development towards true awakening.

Similarly (Gita 2:27-28) is less poetic but very clear and applicable to all of us whatever our faith, convictions or belief. Considering a universal truth in this world for those prescribing to different views of life beyond death, no one can argue about the inevitability of death. Krishna notes this and the veiled nature of existence before and this material life as a fact of life, so “why lament about it”?

That everything material changes and passes is cause to ponder the big questions about reality, before and after the fleeting time we have in our current physical body, and the profoundness of experience and consciousness accessible to us. Whatever our lifestyle, bodily deterioration is occurring gradually and is ever present on a physical level, until at some point the body will be cast aside (Gita 2:22).

Easwaran in his Gita companion says “It is good to face death with courage, but that is not enough; we must learn to face it with understanding.” (p.191). In a spiritual sense, through meditation and practice of presence generally, we can become familiar with consciousness that transcends sense organs and objects, including projections of mind. This transcendent awareness brings with it a sense of living awareness and identity independent of the body and thinking mind. Thus, an intuitive sense or even knowing of death as a doorway to another state of pure consciousness comes as a natural part of insight and realisation of the nature of this unchanging consciousness from which our ever-changing perceptions and responses arise.

Being mindful of death can be a means of making the most of each living moment, of the profoundness of every moment. Some saints and seekers do things to deepen this mindfulness. Saint Teresa of Avila kept a skull on her desk. Yogis, saints and masters in India sit before cadavers to meditate to help them transcend mortal mindedness. Warriors (spiritual and military) or those living in harsh conditions often use the inevitability of death to fuel their conviction and focus on their conscious choices, actions and life path. It fuels comradeship. It heightens the focus, conviction and mind power of shamans.

In the Gita (8:12-13), Sri Krishna gives Arjuna a crash course in how to die which is the basis for various meditations and mudras for unifying mind and soul, as well as preparing for optimum consciousness during death. Basically, the meditation describes withdrawing the vital energy and focus from body and senses into the mind where a mantra and intention towards the divine or consciousness of consciousness itself is the sole awareness accompanied by the sound of Aum. This is full immersion in pure awareness and presence. From there in Gita terms the consciousness transcends mind “into Buddhi, the higher mind, and finally into what is called the causal body, the seat of I-consciousness. Easwaran discussing this verse describes the process “like taking off an overcoat button by button, then removing your jacket, and finally your pullover, folding each piece carefully and setting it aside.” (p.194).

In normal meditation, some vitality is kept in the body to keep it living. Experienced meditators will vouch for a heightened sense of aliveness and awareness when in this state than normal body consciousness. Whatever the details of after death existence, Sri Krishna notes the unchanging nature at the seat of consciousness itself, which can be realised in life and continues after death.

Uniting all faculties “by the power of yoga” or the biblical “loving God with all your heart, your soul, your strength and mind” to achieve deep awakening requires sustained devoted and dedicated effort. It does not have to be complicated, done always with closed eyes, but rather a consistent part of being present while we attend to living our lives fully present in our selves, our environment and others. It does require a balanced character and approach to life. Spiritual teachings universally view development of the soul and ‘awakening’ as a cumulative result of mindful practice while living a meritorious life as the key to fulfilment and happiness, as well as readiness for when it is time to go.

Arjuna asks Krishna ‘what if we aren’t ready and haven’t got there?’ The assurance is when death is understood through contemplation and knowing the nature of consciousness itself, it looses its terror. Much of the problem with dying is the inability to let go, along with regrets about life. As Easwaran points out, in conscious dying “all attention is on where you are going: there is no attention on what you are leaving behind, which means no clinging. It’s not so much that you’re not afraid of death; the question simply does not arise”. In other words, like in deep meditation and practice of presence, the process is less about letting go of identification with thoughts and body and more an engagement with a known existential state of being.

Many people who have been in a dangerous instant where they thought they were about to die, experience no fear and an instant acceptance. I have experienced this a few times. My daughter experienced it when she fell from a cliff and thought that was it. As an observer in that instance I confronted my worst of fears as a parent then went into protect and rescue mode when I saw her mercifully injured but okay below. It is different for the person facing this moment for themselves, when all of life has lead to one key instant.

The cumulative effect of spiritual effort contributes to our level of consciousness at death. Meanwhile, we can enhance the experience and depth of conscious choosing in our daily lives as the layers of conditioning stored in the material mind is unravelled in the light of that consciousness and spiritual identification. The opportunity for continued learning and discovery, facing challenges “calmly, courageously, and compassionately” is part of our purpose.

I’ll finish with a final note from Easwaran that the getting of wisdom is not just learning more, but the capacity to learn from past mistakes while facing new difficulties by ‘detached intellect’. “Detached intelligence is the very source of wisdom … that acquired wisdom awakens us to the extent we listen to it, not so much in the head as in the heart.” (p.203).

Photo credit: h.koppdelaney via Visual Hunt / CC BY-ND

Recommended Reading:

God Talks To Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita, by Paramahansa Yogananda (Self Realisation Fellowship, 2nd Edition 1999)

The Bhagavad Gita, by Swami Sivananda (Divine Life Society, 15th Edition 2015)

Essence of the Bhagavad Gita: A Contemporary Guide to Yoga, Meditation and Indian Philosophy, by Eknath Easwaran (The Blue Mountanin Center of Meditation, 2011).

The Inevitabilities of the Evolving Self and World

Disappointments and challenges are a part of life and dealing with them positively becomes a key part of success and maturity as we get older. Many of them we create for ourselves through our decisions, our actions and their consequences. By ‘we’, I mean each of us personally as well as ‘we’ as a community or society. The relativity of life and the suffering we experience ourselves, that fills the pages of humanity’s history or we see happening in so many places around the world in current times, can make us question the justice and nature of the reality we live in.

It is only with a big picture view, while paying attention to the most profound sense of life that insight has provided us, can we appreciate that for evolving creatures of free will, free intelligence, to exist in this vast miraculous universe, there is a sense of existential purpose behind the existence of evolving life and consciousness. It is in these modern times of exponential growth in our understanding of life and reality, that we can also appreciate with that knowledge and understanding comes a greater sense of the nature of things, including ourselves and the inherent purpose to reality. Love, friendship and the beauty of nature – these things alone do so much to make life worth living.

These current times are showing us more and more clearly that we have a responsibility with real consequences as caretakers on a planet that is becoming smaller and more impacted by the things we as a civilisation. Do we learn to co-operate and do things sustainably for future generations and gain the immense gifts a global awakening promises? Or do we fall short of responding to the signs of pending crisis and the calling of evolving ideals and potential while exploitation and degeneration of each other and our world brings us to global conditions unable to sustain us further?

I have faith in the triumph of our deeper natures over the temporary and more limited conditioned mind on a personal and global scale. Crisis has always been the activator for leaps and bounds in evolution in biology, culture and intellect – and these times are no exception. In terms of our history and current challenges, themes of the battle between true righteousness versus ignorance and intentional evil is layered throughout our evolution into our psyche and continually reflected in our evolving philosophies, arts, and now all forms of modern media. It is a battle fought on subtle and gross levels, on brutal and sophisticated levels, on personal and collective levels.

However, spiritual awakening and principles remind us that none of the drama and adventure changes the divine essence from which reality arises and from which life and consciousness itself arises. In our core being is a living force we all share that is life, therefore life-affirming as are the values of goodness, beauty and truth. The process of our evolution and lives at stake is a powerful one of adventure for the spiritual warrior. As survival becomes more sorted in modern times of technology, the quality of life and consciousness will become the major factor in how well we move forward and shape our future.

A book with much controversy is the Urantia Book. Whatever readers views are of the details, what I love most about it is the sophisticated way it discusses spirit and deity and the picture it offers about how immense and grand the universes and the plan of life could be. In discussing the primacy of a unifying and central cause of all reality in this vast universe, for us on our fragile planet of many uncertainties, certain factors described as “inevitabilities of evolutionary creature life” are mentioned (Paper 3, section 5). These are listed as points of consideration in reconciling the challenges and seeming disasters of life with the concept of a universally sovereign divine and just intelligence and plan:

1. Is courage — strength of character — desirable? Then must man be reared in an environment which necessitates grappling with hardships and reacting to disappointments.

2. Is altruism — service of one’s fellows — desirable? Then must life experience provide for encountering situations of social inequality.

3. Is hope — the grandeur of trust — desirable? Then human existence must constantly be confronted with insecurities and recurrent uncertainties.

4. Is faith — the supreme assertion of human thought — desirable? Then must the mind of man find itself in that troublesome predicament where it ever knows less than it can believe.

5. Is the love of truth and the willingness to go wherever it leads, desirable? Then must man grow up in a world where error is present and falsehood always possible.

6. Is idealism — the approaching concept of the divine — desirable? Then must man struggle in an environment of relative goodness and beauty, surroundings stimulative of the irrepressible reach for better things.

7. Is loyalty — devotion to highest duty — desirable? Then must man carry on amid the possibilities of betrayal and desertion. The valour of devotion to duty consists in the implied danger of default.

8. Is unselfishness — the spirit of self-forgetfulness — desirable? Then must mortal man live face to face with the incessant clamouring of an inescapable self for recognition and honor. Man could not dynamically choose the divine life if there were no self-life to forsake. Man could never lay saving hold on righteousness if there were no potential evil to exalt and differentiate the good by contrast.

  1. Is pleasure — the satisfaction of happiness — desirable? Then must man live in a world where the alternative of pain and the likelihood of suffering are ever-present experiential possibilities.

Throughout the universe, every unit is regarded as a part of the whole. Survival of the part is dependent on co-operation with the plan and purpose of the whole, the wholehearted desire and perfect willingness to do the Father’s divine will. The only evolutionary world without error (the possibility of unwise judgment) would be a world without free intelligence. In the Havona universe there are a billion perfect worlds with their perfect inhabitants, but evolving man must be fallible if he is to be free. Free and inexperienced intelligence cannot possibly at first be uniformly wise. The possibility of mistaken judgment (evil) becomes sin only when the human will consciously endorses and knowingly embraces a deliberate immoral judgment.”

The spiritual nature in us provides a sense of altruism and universal love, not the primitive creature mind from our primitive past. From deep in our higher consciousness comes the compassion, empathy and mercy for one another’s suffering. At the same time, becoming conscious and fully present in our existential and living loving awareness, awakens us to the temporary nature of material existence and any suffering associated with it. In contrast, yet all embracing of this relative existence created for a great universal purpose, is the timeless nature of the essence of us that remains untainted and indestructible throughout life’s trials. Life experience offers to shape and develop those who would engage the best they can call on in themselves in goodwill. Through faith and our psychology we must draw on the power within to remain connected and intact to participate in this journey of life. Part of the point of the journey is to reside fully in awakened loving consciousness and thrive as we learn to embody, express and flow the unity and uniqueness of our essence into the life we live.

In compassion for ourselves and each other, it is good to remember that there are no mistakes in the greater scheme of things. All of time and the resources of the universe gather to allow us this planetary life for our greatest purpose and destiny to unfold as it is. It is up to each of us with what we are and have, and where we find ourselves, as to what it is to mean and how it is to count. Gradually, we must come to know and trust in a living and friendly universe, consciously identifying more fully in the the spiritual nature within in order to transition to the next stage of our evolution. Our technology and pursuits must better flow sustainable universal laws and we better understand the consequences of our collective and personal actions. It is then our intellects and physicality can truly blossom as reflections of our true and emerging inner nature. From this turning point, more and more people will consciously recognise the subtle light and love that beckons from within consciousness itself. The true agent of change is emerging from within us. Quality of consciousness, serving our personal and collective greater purpose and greater good more fully, are becoming primary factors that connect us to what is real and authentic.

Photo: gusdiaz on VisualHunt.com / CC BY-NC-SA (modified with quote)

The Most Valuable Means to Abundance and Fulfilment

There is a common deeply imbedded key and truth in the counsel and teachings through the ages for manifesting abundance and prosperity, happiness and fulfilment, living a life purpose, the primary relationship you dreamed of, great quality friendships, or awakening to a new level of spiritual experience. It’s a message being redefined and much needed in these times.

In uncovering this critical key for fulfilling success, a few underlying principles are a necessary context for understanding it and the laws that operate around it.

The first is obvious yet an easy trap to fall into as we accumulate wealth. Many of the ‘things’ we want and dream of in life can be truly experienced, but not if we are looking to them as the source of our happiness and fulfilment. Many people who have things we dream for are still unhappy. This is the paradox, because many of us would still like more of certain things in our life, right?

However, there is a difference in the content of our life being an expression or vehicle for shared joy, love and abundance in life versus things in life being a source of validation, identity, status or security and happiness. When they are a goal in of themselves or invested with our identity, then we are not living in consciousness of what we are and the true nature of life from within. We are utilising external things to fill where there is a vacuum of meaning and identity. Yet, we give the meaning all passing or changing things have for us from within ourselves. So they cannot fill this space inside us, only be a place we externalise it as separate. The ideal is to consciously live with a sense of completeness with or without the things we have that support our true selves and provide ease or enjoyment, a life certainly tests this at times.

Of course, the tribulations of life will show us where we need to go more deeply within and place our personal investment there. Letting go of materiality is not rejecting the external world, but embracing it with a total identity and connection in the essence of the life and consciousness it actually arises from. Our conscious efforts to shape ourselves and our lives will either come from fear and need for security and a sense of belonging, or it will come from the creative urge of adventure and discovery with a sense of certainty, connection and completeness.

Living from the inside out, means we serve the true essence of ourselves, each other and life, knowing this essence cannot be lost, limited or scarce. We open ourselves up to greater abundance from the fullness of life itself rather than from relativity of circumstances and possessions. How much of our life is really spent in awareness and gratitude of the gift of life? It is the key to coming from love and not fear.

Many modern teachings and some ancient teachings like Buddhism deal with habits of thinking, beliefs and conditioning of the mind. Clearing old habits and out-dated states of mind that arose as adaptations to past fears or suffering, helps create the space for inspired and present-time creative and energised living, to come back to the fullness of who and what we are.

Clearing our negativity and old emotional baggage while developing positive thinking in alignment with life affirming consciousness, is a transformative step that changes and prepares our perceptions and awareness for this next level of conscious living. Yet, happiness, success and fulfilment doesn’t come from positive thoughts and feelings either. These do help focus us to a certain level of experience that they resonate with and from, and do this on a biological and psychological level. Thinking can only be (at best) a relative reflection of who is doing the thinking and what we can most truly and abundantly manifest in life.

The deeper heart of all teachings is that the external world and the inner world (our inner projections of ourselves with thoughts, feelings and perceptions) are both reflections or symptoms of where we are coming from and the state of being we are living at.

In all the various teachings that I have come across, what really shifts my life into another gear (as an ongoing journey of expansion) is a state of being in the experience that is left in the wake of full surrender and letting go within and without, to trust in my own sense of the consciousness and energy that I am. Then going forth and exploring how to best embody and express that in the world to me is, living with spirit.

One of the greatest ways to engage in the world is to productively do and share what you love and what makes you feel most alive. What is most authentic and core within us can then flow into our worldly lives. When we see other people doing the same, really thriving in expressing their inner self through what they do, we feel inspired and on a higher frequency. It is not just about what you do or how well, because in the end, it can be experienced in countless pursuits, careers at many levels and scales. So alignment with what we do is a factor and part of the exploration. It reflects the level to which we connect and engage our inner self in our doing.

Doing what you love and loving what you do

creates a harmony and resonance between

the greater field of love and abundance and worldly life.

Meditation, positive thinking and all the actions in the world don’t provide true awakening in and of themselves. These practices can only prepare the space for making that decisive and true shift in ourselves. They can help create the space to feel, experience and recognise true infinite and abundant being of authentic love and life in ourselves. Freeing identity and experience of the detail and content we can lose ourselves in is part of creating this space. When we find, trust and invest our identity in the space in which it is all happening, then we can find we are truly fulfilled and free just with that, then better embrace and handle all that is happening.

It is a form of inner renunciation, free of dependance on other people and things, to really align ourselves with the source and force in which it all happens. It helps to distinguish between outer appearances in the world and our own narratives about them versus the true essence of people and the common substance we share. This creates space for greater compassion and understanding, love and alignment with each other, and loving more unconditionally.

A lost, broken or worn out cherished possession has no inherent value in itself. The value we think something gives us comes from within ourselves. Our own story and experience of material life can’t be broken, lost or worn out. Practicing this when we are frustration or sadness arises from big or little material losses, allows us to truly let go of things, enjoying them without attachment while the are there and moving on.

With this understanding, comes the critical point. The laws of attraction and abundance are all based on firstly connecting with who and what we really are, which is a complete and shared experience of ‘presence’. It is in and from this presence that all our experience of life arises and occurs. The second aspect of this key is to experience our life as a unique conscious channel for the love and energy inherent in our unified presence, life force and pure consciousness. To let ‘true being’ flow into all our actions, relationships and self-expression. What ever the approach to life, this is where it becomes transformative.

When we align in conscious presence as a channel of its infinite source,

we can experience greater and deeper levels of unity

and its shared flow in the world.

Focus on a living and present essence of life also transforms egoistic tendencies. Opening up to presence becomes a more real, all-embracing and enlivening place to invest ourselves than holding fixed and changeable concepts of how life is and how we ‘should’ be. We can experience all people and things also as expressions and channels of one unified consciousness and life energy. This unified field can then flow from within us and flow to us from the reality we embrace around us. The flow works both ways. Intent and conscious participation in both directions of flow, like an exhale and inhale, allows universal consciousness and energy to fulfil the promise of fullness and abundance in our lives and with each other. Learning how to experience financial wealth as an aspect of this energy flow is easier when we understand the universal laws along with the practical knowledge of our undertakings, and operate as a channel unified with others with the attachments and power struggles of separateness and external identification.

A major transition time in my life now, where life in every way is changing and being renewed, is teaching me these truths on whole new level. Life challenges in recent years seem to have come from different areas of my life. Yet taken all together it is increasingly clear the crisis points have come from where I have needed the world to validate me and where I have put the source of meaning, value and fulfilment in other people and things. When upheaval and change leads to healing, realisation and transitioning back towards the source within, transformational adjustments and new life opportunities occur. I feel this is really what is going beneath all our crisis and breakthroughs. Out of every crisis as well as every success, we each get an opportunity to move forward more consciously.

I encourage you to open up to the life energy in and around you with an open heart and mind. Daily invite the full experience of what is already present, initially without having to do, achieve and try anything. Breath and move so that any tight, constricted or vacuous areas you sense within or immediately around you, release and you become an integrated and harmoniously unified field of energy. Dream and imagine more about how to be and what to do to more fully live and express fullness of being in joy, peace and love. What is it you do when you feel this the most and how? Is it also a strong and grounded sense where the full spectrum of highs and lows, successes and challenges, can be handled with equanimity and fullness? Aligning with and being a channel of abundant energy and life as you feel it, will gradually, or sometimes quickly, transform your world around you to reflect greater abundance and fullness.

A Way Through Blocks, Pain and Feeling Stuck

There are so many stories of spontaneous remissions of terminal illness and inspired flashes that are game changers in life situations that are examples of how much untapped power, insight, intelligence and transformation await us in our own consciousness. You may have your own experiences of a light coming on in your mind and everything quickly starting to feel different.

Whether we are talking to someone else about an issue or working through something in our own minds, the tone and words we use say a lot about the our mindset. Our mindset is really the key to what we pay attention to, how we perceive it and what we create from it. The surprises, inspired thoughts and realisations, and even so-called ‘miracles’ often come from left field when we are open and relaxed.

Therefore, empowering ourselves and creating more of what is important in our lives is not just about getting a more positive and open mindset, it is also about relaxing and opening our thinking minds to new possibilities while learning to engage in a deeper state of being within.

Life challenges are where we apply conscious living principles and experience transformation, while smooth running and abundance are times are for enjoying the results! If there is an ongoing feeling or situation that feels stuck and a source of mental, emotional or physical pain, then there are a few simple steps that can help shift it. Most of us have pretty good coping mechanisms on the stuff that passes as quickly as it arises. Persistent or repeated issues are times when the process is slower and can be helped by dealing with it more consciously. These can be obvious stressors or less obvious like an ongoing heaviness or chronic pain in the background.

We all need love and support from others, especially at difficult times, so obviously with a huge and intense life issue, it may be good to seek help. Otherwise, creating some quiet space away from distractions for as little as 5 to 15 minutes can be all it takes to shift something that is blocking or draining your energy or is a pain calling for your attention and adjustment on some level.

Initially you might think or feel that you know a persistent issue all too well and have had enough of it. However, often things persist because there is some resistance in us in dealing with the issue fully. In these cases there is something we still need to get, that is in our own and others interests, for a shift to occur and for us to move on.

Resistance can take the form of avoidance, dismissal, fear or anxiety, minimising or dismissing a problem, contracting and withdrawing our energy, or flat out denial. Any issue that requires our attention is going to persist in a way that our discomfort or situation gets worse, activating us to doing something different for it to resolve. If we continue to do the same thing we’ll keep getting the same results.

1. Being Present with it

Therefore, the first step is to spend some time to simply sit with full attention on the issue and observe non-judgmentally all feelings, judgements, perceptions and thoughts about the situation. This first step is not about looking for answers or ‘fixes’. It is about creating the space to first feel where you are with it fully right now. Taking some deep breathes and inviting all you feel and know about this issue is a big step, whether it be a stressful situation, physical pain or illness, business or relationship issue or anything else in your personal reality.

For intense issues, it can be good to write down all that presents itself as you tune in and open up to what is really happening in terms of this issue. Take time to breath and sit with open aware focus on the issue in between any note taking or thoughts as they come up.

Notice after 5-10 minutes of this, any changes in the way you feel or perceive it as you spend time focusing on it. Acknowledge any body sensations or perspectives that are part of the shifts and changes as you delve in to this territory. Where in the body do you feel it and what is that feeling like? What emotions and thoughts run repeatedly about this and what deeper ones arise as you go deeper? Simply observe mental, emotional or physical pain and any negative thoughts, whether or not you believe they are true or valid, as being what they are and there in that moment.

Creating the space to open up to all you think, feel and believe about the issue in itself can be a healing process. Many symptoms of stuck or neglected energy start to shift as you give it full attention. Part of the process of progress and healing in yoga for example can happen on an emotional, mental and physical level just by breathing into and being with a discomfort or feeling of resistance or reaction while holding a particular posture, then allowing it to shift and open up in the space it has been given. Similarly, this is about holding a mental, emotional and physical space in which to consciously and fully experience a challenge or issue – noting but not getting lost in the story and threads of thoughts associated with it.

Allowing conscious stillness and space around your thoughts, some good questions to focus your attention are: How does this feel? What is it like? Can I sit with this fully right now? Is feeling stuck with this proving something? What will happen if this continues or gets worse? What do I feel most deeply about this?

Once you feel you have given this enough time to really feel more present in yourself and conscious of your experience of the issue, take a few deep breathes and move to the next step.

2. Creating space for change through acceptance

Love and acceptance is extremely powerful in creating the space for energetic healing. Paradoxically, it is when we come to know and accept something for what it is that it changes. Investment in change due to rejection and resistance perpetuates the pain and conflict inherent in what makes something an issue.

Therefore, in this step, acknowledging all of the thoughts, feelings and perceptions you have come up with over the 5-15 minutes of meditating on the issue, a few mini-steps here will help continue the process:

  1. Taking some breaths, affirm and open the heart to a sense that “I love and accept myself with or without this issue”. If this is difficult then it is enough that “I am willing be able to love and accept myself with or without this issue”.
  2. Spending some moments with this, acknowledge “I am willing for wisdom and insight for whatever lesson is here for me.” Take a few breathes, or more if some added insight arises.
  3. It is at this stage in love, acceptance and openness that it is time to also acknowledge “I am now open and willing to let this go and move on”.

If by now there has been some shift but not significant, then it can be good to cycle through these two steps a few times while you are tuned in, or do the steps again each day for a few days.

3. Moving Forward – The Power of Positive Questions

Asking ourselves positive questions, just like asking someone else a good question, will draw forth an answer that comes from our truth within. The answer from presence, not the first auto-response in our head, can be more powerful than just a statement of intention if it has come spontaneously from an open and authentic place in the moment of questioning.

The final step in this healing process may occur over minutes, hours or days depending on the situation. Some questions relevant to completing on this as you move forward are: What life affirming learning has this issue been offering me? Aside from being free of the discomfort I have felt, what could I gain from moving through this and letting it go? Am I open to this situation teaching me things and having positive outcomes I have not considered? In what sense can I feel or express love and acceptance for myself and all associated with this issue?

Continue with any external situations with others involved, to consider “how can I assist a turn around here, so all concerned are better off”. This can be the basis of a strategy of action if required or how you will approach things from within yourself. Use positive questions to expand the shift within to those around you.

Self nurturing and healing is an act of self-love providing us with more to give out to others. Taking some time with yourself to consciously work through personal challenges is really powerful. So when you are complete, reward yourself in some small way, like a nice bath or warm beverage, or a walk outside. Well done!

Peace and Love 🙂

Photo credit: Sam Bald on VisualHunt / CC BY (modified with quote)

The Beautiful Behind-the-Scenes of Heart and Mind

The beauty of relating to divine presence simply as ‘space’ and ‘formlessness’ beyond thinking, allows us a pure experience relatively untainted by too much human concept, such as religious preconceptions of God, expectations of enlightenment, what is spiritual and what isn’t. Freeing ourselves of conditioned thinking includes dropping dogma and historical theology in the moment.

This has benefits for direct and personal spiritual experience, yet the living presence of consciousness unfolds in the practitioner of presence as ‘a being’ not without volition, love, compassion and much more that has been attributed in religious contexts and from sages of the past as attributes of God.

There is a fine line being walked in the coming century for the systems of evolved wisdom and knowledge, and for each of us, not to obscure the living presence within and about us with idolatry loyalties to concepts, ritual, terminology and impassioned opinions that are culturally and psychologically conditioned. Meanwhile, it is the timeless essence of all these systems that can then have the space and increasing receptivity in a global society to be heard and realised anew in each individual.

The shift to getting beyond the thinking mind, beyond identification with form and objects, is a liberating awakening that is a key step to the transformation of consciousness happening in these times. Nonetheless, once we begin to settle in that space and consciousness, to experience consistently and personally the living presence of universal consciousness, free of thought streams and ego identity that used to define us and our perceptions, it becomes more apparent this universe is a vast and magnificent evolving ‘intent’.

The universe is a living ‘creation’ with purpose, meaning and reality, and this is gradually emerging in new ways for humanity in this age of new sciences, technologies and the new fluid horizons of quantum reality. Meanwhile, practitioners of conscious awakening world-wide are acquiring in unprecedented numbers, conviction and recognition of the ongoing background of consciousness, self-aware as a primordial source of arising thoughts, perceptions and feelings of mind. As shared realisation matures, so does the recognition and experience of universal consciousness and presence as source, home base point and destiny of conscious life which arises from it.

Thus, in relating to living presence, in receptive open mindedness with the faith and beginners mind of a child, we can start to feel an interaction between being-ness as a point of consciousness (our own personal experience) and the greater field of consciousness. This greater field of presence becomes a medium for the dissolving of separate identity purely in ‘the finite self’. It is clear in moments of reverie and awakening that we are part of something much more (and no less) than a vast being-ness from which our personal selves and the dualistic world of form has arisen with divine purpose and intent. Our purpose is to hear it, be it and let it flow into our minds and hearts and into our lives.

Our hearts and minds are but a mirrored doorway,

reflecting what it is opened towards.

The formless is generally associated with the mysterious eternal (with no beginning or ending) outside of the relativity of linear time. Form is associated with finiteness, finite time (having a beginning, inevitably changing, but not necessarily ending). Therefore, finite form (including matter or energy, pattern and structure, order and chaos) and time seem to be inherent in the eternal and formless as does the spark of life and consciousness.

The sense of the divine seems to be most intimate, ‘personal’ and tangible when we can drop even the vehicles of spiritual or religious concepts of the thinking mind to get a direct experience of a universal spaciousness or conscious presence in which all material and mind forms are occurring.

By keeping the awareness primarily on the living consciousness in all that is happening, we can embrace the content (all that is happening within and without) while fully present without attachment and being overly drawn into it. This is becoming free from suffering. In its place a beautiful sense of the vastness, compassion and infinite goodness through receptivity, also begins to express itself through our finite form (mind, body, voice, gestures, responses and expression). Life can become a blissful meditation in motion. We can get the same sense from others as we view them in essence, as expressions of the same universal living space or consciousness. In finding this experience in ourselves, we can all the more unconditionally love and accept others by being able to better recognise the essence in ourselves, expressing itself through others whether they are aware of it or not.

Shared stillness of heart and mind is the sacred place of relationship.

We can still function, but it is definitely different to functioning from the narrative, thought and feeling reactions, wants and fears of the egoistic self. Drama, pettiness and ego driven agenda’s are symptoms of us aligning with the world of object identification whether we play perpetrator, defender or victim. Instead we can become even more effective in worldly pursuits as teachers, learners and mediators in presence and stillness of conscious being and action. We then trust and celebrate unity in our own uniqueness and unique contributions. How is this an alignment and reflective of universal purpose?

Let’s consider or imagine universal consciousness as the primordial reality before, during and since the confirmed ‘big bang’ of manifested reality. It makes sense that manifested reality in all its diversity and bestowal of life and consciousness is the escape from Absolutism for this primordial formless singularity of consciousness and being. It is also an inevitable fulfilment of infiniteness, for if infiniteness includes all possibilities then it includes finiteness. The result of the ‘big bang’ is an improbable stable and expanding universe, improbable without the factor of inherent absolute intelligence and intent, in which we find bestowed consciousness & life.

If consciousness and life is not just on our planet, but a universal intent, then it is diversely manifested throughout the vast living universe from the Deity levels through spiritual realities, to density of complex form in material realities. Absoluteness divesting its attributes in diversified manifestation in an endless evolutionary plan that duplicates itself endlessly outward in the vastness of space. This is simultaneous with an equally endless inward journey of infinite potential as a conscious realisation for each participating conscious being. It is also both the inward and outward journey for the collective universal whole as a universal entity as an evolving reflection of the primordial absolute. Intuitively this seems such a fitting act and volition of an infinite, absolute, singularity being of infinite personality, energy & consciousness divesting itself through other life forms in an act of immaculate creativity and shared experience in true universal love and grace.

To us, the freedom from conditioned concept & thought (ego), through realisation and experience of consciousness of pure consciousness, is an achievement of spiritual awakening & insight into the formless and un-manifested for mind. On the spiritual plane, pure living consciousness is a manifested aspect of infinite spirit as the unified consciousness of creator and created. In christian terms, the Father and Son personalised in unity in the Spirit. It is only in pure consciousness or spirit that we can truly realise causeless and universal joy, peace, love along with an existence of meaning in itself. The material universe is a vast and grand stage for the absolute to experience itself becoming self aware through its gift of co-creative participation to evolving material and spiritual beings, the formless and infinite progressively present in finiteness and form.

The closest we can be to God in human form is direct experience from inner peace and stillness. Closeness, certainty and full experience requires we open all our heart and mind to what is formless to us, and un-manifested materially – the universal spirit which we experience as universal consciousness, aliveness, & presence. This fulfils the great commandment “to love God with all our heart and mind.” Love is equivalent to oneness. It is its own reward, a completion in itself – a spontaneous freedom of mind and will, transcendent yet all encompassing love, goodness, beauty, peace & joyful aliveness of existence – the I AM. It can only be felt as a living consciousness in the now, as past and future are a function of object mindedness.

We can experientially expand ourselves as far as we can realise and actualise

our true nature of living being as pure conscious presence.

Freedom is available from identification with a small limited mind & body, isolated and at the effect of a reality of form. There is a play for us to participate in, of expanding towards absolutism while evolve to express and co-create infinity and formlessness into the finite and form. To do this, we must learn to function in both dimensions together, conduits for consciousness to fulfil divine purpose and intent. This means doing and being daily in a way that this consciousness and experience flows into who we are and what we do. Many are doing it already without even knowing it, while a growing mass of people attune to living more consciously and deeply.

The down to earth love and purpose we get in our daily lives, in even the simplest things like a kind gesture or a blooming flower, contains all that vast reality has provided to enable every detail to happen. Maintaining presence while facing life challenges, transforms challenges into profound doorways to self awareness and growth. Let’s breath, be and do, mindful of the mysterious & miraculous enigma of existence!

Photo credit: blavandmaster on Visual hunt/CC BY-NC-SA (modified with quote)

Being Successful With More Purpose and Meaning

What pursuits are best for us to live quality ‘being’ and quality ‘doing’ in a way that is progressive and meaningful for us and beneficial for those around us?

The last couple of blogs have looked at mechanisms between mind and body we can consciously harness to optimise our wellbeing and performance. Wellbeing is about a state of mind and body. Performance is about ‘doing’ and while there are psychological and physical dynamics that enhance our state and capacity to perform well and experience it more fully, it still remains for each of us to choose day to day (and for any significant phase in our lives) what is on purpose for us to do.

Dr. Wayne Dyer in his books and lectures made a distinction between the ego’s motivation of needs being “what’s in it for me?” versus the higher soul mind motivation of wholeness being “how can I best serve?”. He has often quoted from Maslow’s work on self-actualisation. One point from Maslow is that self-actualised people are detached from outcome. The Bhagavad Gita goes into this in great depth. Maslow in his research and observations saw they are not motivated by what could come to them but follow pursuits because what they do is essential to them feeling complete, rather than the ‘fruits’ of their actions. Another way to say this is that there are things some of us feel personally called to do and with this calling comes a sense that acting on this inner calling is what will give our sense of completeness meaning and purpose.

Napoleon Hill in “Think and Grow Rich” also describes what drives people he has studied who have enriched lives in every way (not only material ways). He describes it as a “burning desire” to act on an inner calling which invariably includes expressing their gratitude in life along with contributing some aspect of what excites them in life in a way that could benefit others or share that excitement.

I see this dynamic in my own life. My 20 years work in as a therapist and counsellor fulfilled my urge to help people with a specific set of skills and knowledge while compelled to better understand the relationship of mind and body in the process. My 16 years of building and running a company with wellness products and promoting sustainable business ethics and the organic industry, was an extension of that same urge with the addition of contributing to environmental concerns in the world. Meanwhile, I fulfilled a desire to learn about business and to represent these values internationally as an example of the change I see needed in the world right now. These days I am developing my writing as a communicator of all of the above values and principles with more focus on spiritual teaching, albeit an ongoing part of my outlook and inner practice all along. My roles as father, partner and friend are motivated and infused with the same values.

The substance of your deepest calling defines you and so touches all aspects of your life. For me it is being a practitioner and communicator for aligning mind, body and spirit to achieve life fulfilment in all aspects of our lives individually and as a society.

There can be stages in our life when the primary form or ‘doing’ of the calling changes, or it may not. There may be numerous things we feel passionate about and would participate in, in addition to one or two primary interests, or there may be only one consistent focus through your whole life. The key is that where our true conviction and passions lie tend not to fade but remain with us whether we pursue them or not. They may shift and transform with life experience, but these callings we each have are tied in with our own life long primary values and convictions.

What hits your ‘excite’ button? What not only excites the passions, ideals or opinions but incentivises you into go into greater depth of understanding and go into action? To find this requires the ability to listen within ourselves to come to know our most inner and authentically deep urgings to share and serve as well as to stay on track as we respond and act from them. Thus, the value of meditation, the alpha and conscious theta frequencies discussed in my recent blogs, coming to know our inner stillness, inner silence and being present in the ‘now’ with open heart and mind. From there we can start to really listen and tap into the depths of awareness, before bringing that awareness to engage with the activities or discussions we spontaneously and consistently resonate with fully. The ‘calling’ is what you deep down feel you must do to truly feel you are fulfilling a purpose you’re designed for or would most want to do if all else was sorted in your life. Out of anything that you’re here to do, what would give you a completeness at the end of the day and fulfil your sense of purpose throughout that day?

For some, it may not matter ‘what’ so much as ‘how’. Every work position, relationship in life is a vehicle to act in loving and fully present awareness and be conscious of how it is of benefit to others. Each little moment is an opportunity to act with love and awareness. As Dan Millman said “There are no ordinary moments.” This consciousness purifies the mind and invigorates the spirit. A sense of “selfless service” is the zone where happiness and fulfilment hit unusual highs, as shown in many studies. This is especially true where people have found a way to selflessly do something they love in recognition of the need in others they are helping to fulfil.

As with Maslow’s observation, having a true calling shape our ‘work’ of choice or life interest, is not an outcome based intention. It is an expression of an inner purpose-based intention. Relative wealth, fame or power can sometimes come about as a consequence of the authentic and vibrant energy mobilised when we follow our passion. These worldly rewards can and often are used for tremendous good, yet can be equally destructive when they become an end in themselves rather than a means.

Someone on purpose and doing good inspires those they serve directly and others who recognise the energy and consciousness they are coming from. A truly deep and authentic sense of mission rides an energy that energises others. This is most fulfilling and powerful when the ego is cast aside, replaced with an integrity to convictions, values and burning desires that are discovered within during moments of quiet connectedness and inspiration.

As Wayne Dyer says: “Success becomes defined by how you feel about what it is you are doing”. It is knowing combined with action, while sharing real love and passion. Whether it be the way you go about and perform basic tasks and services at work or in the family, the way you communicate a message, design or deliver a product or service you represent, consistent action of good intent from a generous heart inevitably makes an impact in someones life or in the lives of many.

Putting the above into action requires a little progress every day. As Lao Tzu of the Tao-Te-Ching says, “a journey of a thousand steps begins with a small step”. He also says “To do something big, think small.” So spend at least a little time daily on something you have a passion to do or achieve. An inspiring friend, Paul Dunn of B1G1, also promotes the idea of thinking small. He promotes and educates others on the enormous value in distinguishing yourself, a product or service to others by the little things, the thoughtful small differences and touches of what you do and offer. It is often in these extra touches or little things where you can also actualise what you stand for. Great things are achieved by focusing on each little step at a time to get there, each detail, each person who is part of that journey and the little things and surprises that occur along the way to yourself and those you benefit.

Photo on VisualHunt modified with quote

What You Need to Know About Wellbeing and Peak Performance (Part 2)

There is a powerful integration and feedback loop between mind and body that is being understood more and more. Understanding this not only helps you to take charge of your mind and body wellness, it also opens up new possibilities in personal life experience and abilities.

In the last blog, I shared key points and ways to access optimum states of consciousness for wellbeing and peak performance and how they relate to specific brain wave patterns. There is a reciprocal relationship between states of consciousness indicated by brain wave patterns with specific bio-chemical production and pathways in the body that directly affect our moods, immunity and endocrine (hormonal and neurochemical) systems. All cells in the body participate in what is being understood as a feedback loop where consciousness impacts many aspects of bio-chemical processes which in turn impact our consciousness. Thus we can get into loops of body and mind reinforcing psycho-emotional and biochemical wellbeing or else reinforcing dis-ease, both of which impact our perceptions and spiritual receptivity.

All brain wave patterns reflect important and functional mental states – there are no good or bad frequencies. Issues arise when there is an imbalance and certain brainwave patterns predominate chronically rather than our minds being able to move through the full range of frequencies at the right time for the relevant tasks and perceptions. For example, low levels of focus and attention or high levels of depression can be associated with slow or minimal beta patterns. Short intense periods of beta during high focus problem solving and tasks are good while in the higher frequencies (23Hz-40Hz) are the zones of stress and anxiety. However, the modern problem is over-active high frequency beta activity (characterised by constant mental chatter) displacing the alpha range where creativity, innovation and wellbeing is promoted.

As we looked at in the last blog, alpha wave patterns reinforced through practices like meditation help balance an overactive mind, promoting creativity, the sense of connection and well-being. Neuro-chemicals (bio-chemicals produced by brain neurons located in the brain, heart and gut) are associated with happiness and mood elevation, increased immunity to disease and improving a range of mental and physical conditions. These neurochemicals are also promoted generally by predominant alpha states and some other states as described below.

Among hundreds of neuro-chemicals that provide physicality to our sense of bliss, pleasure and wellbeing, only a portion have been studied. Of those, Christopher Bergland in his Psychology Today blog explains seven well studied ‘neurochemicals of happiness’. These chemicals produced in our body are promoted or inhibited according to mental states and certain activities, so that we can impact our body chemistry through our consciousness and lifestyle. Also note that genrally, natural production is inhibited by drugs and alcohol as well as lack of physical activity or exercise.

  1. Endocannabinoids: “The Bliss Molecule” Our body has its own cannabinoid system, producing endocannabinoids that work via CB-1 and CB-2 receptors. “Anandamide (from the Sanskrit “Ananda” meaning Bliss) is the most well known endocannabinoid.” It is likely that we self-produce just as many variations of endocannabinoids as the 85 cannabinoids isolated from the Cannabis plant but it will take neuroscientists decades to isolate them.

    A University of Arizona study, published in April 2012, shows that humans and dogs have significantly higher endocannabinoid readings following sustained running. Because “other research focused on the blood–brain barrier (BBB), has shown that endorphin molecules are too large to pass freely across the BBB”, suggests these naturally produced cannabinoids are likely responsible for the blissful state of runner’s ‘high’.

  2. Dopamine: “The Reward Molecule” “Every type of reward seeking behaviour that has been studied increases the level of dopamine transmission in the brain. If you want to get a hit of dopamine, set a goal and achieve it.”

    Many addictive drugs, such as cocaine and methamphetamine, and addictive behaviours like computer games, act directly on the dopamine system. There is also evidence that extroverted, or uninhibited personality types tend to have higher levels of dopamine than introverted personality types. Bergland advises: “To feel more extroverted and uninhibited try to increase your levels of dopamine naturally by being a go-getter in your daily life and flooding your brain with dopamine regularly by setting goals and achieving them”.

  3. Oxytocin: “The Bonding Molecule” Oxytocin is a hormone directly linked to human bonding, increasing trust and loyalty, some studies suggesting correlation with romantic attachment. Some studies show that “lack of physical contact reduces oxytocin and drives the feeling of longing to bond with that person again.” There is debate that ivasopressin (a close cousin to oxytocin) may actually be the “bonding molecule” , especially in men. Either way, skin-to-skin contact, affection, love making and intimacy and these bonding hormones are associated with the physicality of the ‘warm fuzzies’ we feel from companionship.

    In these times of digital devices and isolated lifestyles reducing physical interaction, “it is more important than ever to maintain face-to-face intimate human bonds and ‘tribal’ connections within your community.” Quality family and friend time, team and contact sports, group or buddy activities are all important human bonds and release oxytocin. “If you don’t have another human being to offer you affection and increase oxytocin your favourite pet can also do the trick”.

  4. Endorphin: “The Pain-Killing Molecule” The name Endorphin translates into ‘self-produced morphine’. “Endorphins resemble opiates in their chemical structure and have analgesic properties. Endorphins are produced by the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus during strenuous physical exertion, sexual intercourse and orgasm. Make these pursuits a part of your regular life to keep the endorphins pumping.”

    In 1999, clinical researchers reported that inserting acupuncture needles into specific body points triggers the production of endorphins. In another study, higher levels of endorphins were found in cerebrospinal fluid after patients underwent acupuncture. Acupuncture is a terrific way to stimulate the release of endorphins.”

  5. GABA: “The Anti-Anxiety Molecule” “GABA is an inhibitory molecule that slows down the firing of neurons and creates a sense of calmness.” Not surprisingly, it can be increased by practicing yoga or meditation. Many sedatives and anti-anxiety medications work by increasing GABA. “A study from the ‘Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicinefound a 27% increase in GABA levels among yoga practitioners after a 60-minute yoga session when compared against participants who read a book for 60 minutes. The study suggests yoga might increase GABA levels naturally.”
  6. Serotonin: “The Confidence Molecule” Serotonin plays many different roles in our bodies. Many studies associate higher serotonin levels with self-esteem, increased feelings of worthiness and a sense of belonging. Bergland suggests “to increase serotonin, challenge yourself regularly and pursue things that reinforce a sense of purpose, meaning and accomplishment. Being able to say “I did it!” will produce a feedback loop that will reinforce behaviours that build self esteem and make you less insecure and create an upward spiral of more and more serotonin.”

    Popular anti-depressants called Serotonin-Specific Re-uptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) — like Prozac, Zoloft, etc. are prescribed for clinical depression, anxiety, panic disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), eating disorders, chronic pain, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, “how anti-depressants work in each person’s brain varies greatly and is not fully understood by scientists or researchers.”

  7. Adrenaline: “The Energy Molecule” Adrenaline, or epinephrine, is central to the ‘fight or flight’ mechanism. When released in your system, it is exhilarating, creating a surge in energy, increased heart rate, blood pressure, and increased blood flow to larger muscles. An ‘adrenaline rush’ comes with a limbic brain sense of fear or mortal danger. “It can be triggered on demand by doing things that terrify you or being thrust into a situation that feels dangerous.” Short rapid breathing with muscle contraction can stimulate adrenaline in small healthy doses.

However, many people with chronic stress, anxiety or fear can have exhausted adrenals which can recover with prolonged relaxation away from environmental, situational or dietary stresses. Bergland warns ‘Adrenaline Junkies’ to try balancing “potentially harmful novelty-seeking by focusing on behaviours that will make you feel good by releasing other neurochemicals on this list.”

Bergland concludes that this list of 7 neurochemicals can be used as a “rudimentary checklist to take inventory of your daily habits and to keep your life balanced. By focusing on lifestyle choices that secrete each of these neurochemicals you will increase your odds of happiness across the board.”

Deepak Chopra M.D., in his blog “How Meditation Helps Your Immune System Do its Job”, discusses how since the ‘80s, we have begun to understand the intelligence of the immune system. “It became known as ‘a floating brain’ because of the ability of immune cells to participate in the chemical messages sent by the brain throughout the body. This means that your thoughts, moods, sensations, and expectations are transmitted to your immune cells.” Chopra also makes a point in his lectures that there are receptors for these chemical messengers in all the cells of the body, so that the whole body is in on the physical response and mirroring of your state of being.

Chopra in his article, draws attention to the studied and important changes that occur when you meditate:

  • Your immune system responds to both negative and positive thoughts
  • Meditation creates a positive mental environment for the immune system to flourish, this study showed a reduction of pro-inflammatory gene expression in older adults.
  • A UCLA study shows that HIV positive patients who practice mindful meditation slow down the reduction of their CD-4 cell count. These are the immune cells that are associated with keeping the virus from propagating.
  • Meditation boosts antibodies. A recent study confirmed that, after weekly meditation training for 8 weeks, 48 biotech workers had significantly higher levels of antibodies than the control group (coworkers who didn’t meditate) as well as higher levels than before the study.
  • Meditation stimulates immune system brain-function regions. Mindfulness meditation has shown increases in electrical activity in the prefrontal cortex, the right anterior insula, and right hippocampus, all parts that control positive emotions, awareness, and anxiety. These brain regions act as command centres for your immune system. When stimulated, they make the immune system function more effectively.

Chopra concludes: “These findings bring into focus a clear message: Your response to potential illness, as managed by the immune system, improves with meditation. This is in keeping with another strong message. Being susceptible to chronic disorders like type-2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and high blood pressure, conditions that are not the result of invading microbes, is also reduced through meditation. The entire mind-body system is brought into a natural state of balance, the key to what I’ve called the higher health.”

The science of brain waves and body chemistry is revealing we are designed for happiness and wellbeing, and our chosen state of consciousness impacts this significantly. Our understanding is diminishing the boundary we once projected between mind and body. New models are suggesting brain and body are conduits for mind and consciousness. Such a view enables many meditators and other subjects studied to demonstrate high levels of mind and body control to reach optimal states to produce wellbeing and experiences of conscious awakening.

Conscious breathing, meditation and exercise done in quality inner body awareness all help to create balance and harmony as well as receptivity to new states of wellbeing for each of us personally. I hope some of the perspectives and suggestions above assist in your journey.

Additional recommended reading & reference: ECOC Institute name 141 Benefits of Meditation, each with some related studies https://eocinstitute.org/meditation/141-benefits-ofmeditation/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI_InK8P_J2AIV2wYqCh1QIwrHEAAYAiAAEgLuBPD_BwE

Photo credit: new 1lluminati on Visualhunt/CC BY

 

What You Need to Know About Wellbeing and Peak Performance (Part 1)

Anyone skeptical or neglectful of actively deepening their state of consciousness, and anyone not sure if it is for them, can be assured by current science that our bodies are hard wired and electro-chemically designed to be at optimum health and wellbeing at specific levels or frequencies of consciousness that can be measured and defined. The good news is, this information and available techniques make it easier and clearer than ever to harmonise mind and body at optimum levels of wellbeing and performance. Qualitative and meaningful aspects of specific conscious states can also connect us to timeless and universal loving awareness.

Our Brain Wave Patterns

Starting with some basics – our brain produces different brainwaves based on our mood and state of mind during the day. They can be measured using an EEG machine.

BrainWaveChart

Narij Naik, M.Pharm in his blog “The Benefits of Getting More Alpha Waves! (http://yang-sheng.com?p=5123)

spells out a typical day for many people:

You wake up suddenly out of deep sleep (Delta brainwaves) with a loud alarm. Almost immediately, you feel a sense of stress from the pressure of getting to work on time and facing the day ahead (Beta brainwaves).”

While creative thinking usually occurs in alpha states, beta states are activated by stress-related problem solving and doing tasks you don’t particularly like or do for unpleasant reasons.

Then, you jumpstart your day by grabbing a caffeine-rich cup of coffee or tea. Caffeine actually suppresses alpha and theta brainwave activity, keeping you in beta for most of the day.

The heavy work load, constant stimulation of the day job and managing the household, means most people are forced into a beta state from the time they wake up in the morning right until they get to bed and fall into a deep sleep (Delta brainwaves) exhausted from the day….. So, unfortunately, this unnatural and hectic lifestyle means people are forced from delta into beta, then back into delta with little room for alpha and theta brainwave activity.”

Research has also shown that people with addictions have a relative absence of alpha waves. Beta states are characterised by much inner dialogue that people identify with, much of the content often habitual, repetitive and negative, accumulating into mental and physical disorders.

Naik further explains alpha states: The Alpha brainwave state is actually considered the brain’s most normal functioning state. But, we seem to spend less and less time functioning in alpha. One consequence of this is the brain actually forgets how to produce alpha waves. This means we tend to feel more stressed and less able to cope with the strain stress induces on your health. So, the result is a greater chance of getting stress-related disorders and diseases. Anxiety and stress have a dramatic impact on lowering the strength of your immune system.

Generating more alpha waves makes you feel less anxious and more relaxed as the harmony between your mind and body is restored. Scientists have shown that highly creativity people like artists, actors and even entrepreneurs tend spend more of their time in alpha brainwave states. This is because creativity requires a surge of alpha brainwave activity.

Alpha states happen whenever you get that “aha” or “eureka” moment of a compelling new idea, which gives you the inspiration necessary to literally create something out of nothing. The brains of creative people tend get a burst of alpha activity when faced with a problem to solve. However, this does not happen for most people who are not creative. So, to become a more effective problem solver and creative thinker, you need to increase your alpha waves.

Scientists have also shown that this surge of alpha activity happens during peak performance. After studying the minds of professional basketball players, they found that an increased alpha brainwave activity occurs usually in the left side of the brain just before making a winning shot. Beginner basketball players on the other hand, did not show any alpha activity. More long-term studies showed that as players improved their game they started to produce more alpha waves, suggesting they are necessary for high-level, peak performance.”

Other associated benefits given by Naik are:

  • Improved Mood and Stability of Emotions – Having more alpha brainwaves usually indicates more positive, stable and balanced emotions. This means you can cope better with stress and keep calm in tough situations. Irritable, anxious and over sensitive people tend to spend most of their time in a beta state, and can usually greatly improve their minds by increasing their alpha brainwaves without resorting to taking drugs, excessive alcohol and other bad habits.
  • Performance and Getting In the “Zone” – the alpha brainwave state is associated with “peak performance” and players who get “in the zone” perform best when they have less beta brainwaves interfering with their peak, alpha state of mind. Studies on professional sports players have shown they have a surge in alpha brainwaves in the left side of their brain just before making a successful shot or playing decision. Those who failed tend to have a flood of beta brainwaves in their left side of their brains instead. It has been shown by experiments like these that “over thinking” (beta) or” under thinking” (theta) have a negative effect on game play, but being in an alpha brainwave state is the perfect state for high performance.
  • Super learning” and “Genius states” – learning new skills, enhanced memory and genius-like abilities are found in those who spend their time mostly in an alpha brainwave state. This is because the tasks associated with those abilities require less overall effort to accomplish and the ability to retain large amounts of information is enhanced.
  • Enhanced Immune System – Long-term stress and tension have a negative impact on your immune system and can even shut it down completely in extreme cases, due to the excessive production of cortisol and adrenaline. When you are in an alpha brainwave state, you are in a relaxed state where your immune system is allowed to work at its best. The “feel good” effect of alpha brainwaves leads to the production of happy and well-functioning cells in your body, which provides a healthy and efficient immune system ready to protect you from any disease.
  • levels of “Serotonin” – Serotonin is released more during alpha brainwave states. Serotonin levels are associated with your moods and low serotonin levels are linked to depression and other neurological disorders, such as anxiety and panic attacks.”

I will go further into the happy chemicals of the brain and body in another blog.

Four Ways To Cultivate Alpha Brain Waves

 1.  Meditation

For those who feel somewhat intimidated by meditation, Christopher Bergland in his blog “The Athletes Way” (https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way) refers to Dan Harris from ABC News who wrote, “10% Happier a No. 1 New York Times bestseller which demystifies meditation and illustrates why taking a few minutes every day observing your thinking can dramatically improve your life.

Harris strips meditation down to three key points for mindfulness:

  1. 1. Sit comfortably, with your back upright.
  2. 2. Focus your full attention on the feeling of your breath coming in and going out.
  3. 3. Bring your attention back to your breath. You don’t have to clear your mind; getting lost and coming back is the whole game.

 

2.  Yoga and Xigong Saunas

Both of these systems have become very popular and continue to be well studied. Reduction in serum cortisol (related to stress), increase in happy hormones such as dopamine and serotonin are cultivated in these practices and correlated to alpha wave activation.

3.  L-Theanine

Bergland also refers to L-Theanine, the amino acid mood enhancer in green tea. “Studies have shown this substance can now be isolated and made into a supplement. It is a great natural booster of your natural alpha brain waves. Users experience a much more focused and alert mind, finding it easier to manage stress and get things done.” L-Theanine boosts natural production of the mood-enhancing neurotransmitter dopamine. Bergland takes L-Theanine and says it is a very effective remedy “for my fairly scattered mind!

4.   Steam Rooms, Massages

These can be effective ways to relax the nervous system and body deeply, activating alpha brain wave production.

Functioning in an awareness of being, as well as doing, characterises alpha states. Two principles in the four examples above for cultivating alpha waves is firstly to have a regular time and place where you can relax fully, be still, peaceful and awake. Secondly, because the mind can only focus fully on one thing at a time then having a single focus like the breath, a mantra or sound, an object to gaze at, or a slow synchronised movement to repeat will displace mental chatter with practice. To get full value, use this time to cut-off from mental and environmental disturbances.

In the next blog I will go into the benefits of alpha states to the immune and endocrine (hormone and neurotransmitter) systems to show how far reaching the benefits are to each and every cell in the body as well as the mind, and how the body literally reflects the ‘tone’ of our mind. Our conscious state is a driver for the mind and body mechanism to function optimally as a self-sustaining or self-perpetual living being and for us to experience qualitative well-being and happiness. We are designed to relax into the ‘I AM’ state where we can better embrace the good and the bad of life and access creative thinking and solutions. An optimised body chemistry balances and adapts better, with every cell receiving and participating in the energy frequency and chemical messages produced.

The whole process of mind/body/soul feedback is self perpetuating as it is health and life affirming when optimised. The pivotal point to optimise this self-sustaining cycle as we deal with the world and life, is mindful awareness. Deepening our wisdom by applying knowledge while also transcending it through awareness of being, nurturing our appreciation of truth, beauty and goodness develop the experiential quality of our conscious state.

As Ram Dass and Ekhart Tolle agree, (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zPmgTJGPzlg) loving awareness in the present moment can re-define love as recognising and sensing oneness in another. In alpha and deeper theta states we can get past naming, judgement and narrative of the ego to experience the arising of this love and awareness. Love is not an emotion in its higher sense, but a soul recognition of shared consciousness. Qualitative loving awareness in a predominantly alpha state of consciousness better opens us to realising ‘the one’ in ourselves, thereby in others – the formless in living form. Awakening from the formless, is reflected in the form of body and mind.

Photo credit:NICHD NIH on VisualHunt.com/CC BY

Christmas and New Year Reflections

Christmas day – the day we most want to share with those closest to us, is a celebration of family and friendship when we feel grateful for those in our lives – those who are with us on the day, those elsewhere doing the same and those who have passed on. Magic and love is in the air for children and adults alike. It is a day when laughter, companionship and gratitude are practically sacred and mandatory, enabling us to cast aside any sense of burden and celebrate life as it is with sharing and giving of ourselves, gifts and seasonal dishes.

Traditional or seasonal festive events bring families and communities together in a celebratory tone of goodwill, providing a familiar cycle of customs and culture in tune with the seasons and harvests. The festive season of Christmas and New Year in the west provides the upliftment and sense of renewal that comes from the gratitude, celebration and love shared with those close to us on a day where millions of others are doing the same. Aside from religious traditions, the modern materialistic and retail promoted aspect, the most widely celebrated aspect amidst the lights and decorations, Santa ritual and the great Christmas lunch is this celebration of love and friendship.

In religious circles Christmas marks the birth of a spiritual saviour which can imply at a symbolic and universal level the Birth of Being or Awakening: spiritual rebirth or renewal within when we open our minds to connect with the nature of consciousness and the divine nature deep within. The renewal comes with opening heart and mind with the faith, trust and good-will of a child, with many doing this openly more-so than on most other days of the year. Many people notice more smiles between strangers and general good humour and goodwill when in public places at this time. This is a very healthy release of tension and renewal of faith in humanity for the social psyche. The spirit of Christmas Day with our loved ones is the ever new vitality of life and consciousness when we share lightness of being with a spirit of genuine care and giving. Conscious connection and unity in this mind and heart space brings us closer to real spirit or Christ nature which can take us beyond our human frailties and neurosis.

Jesus may or may not be a significant figure in your life, yet he represents awakening of man to the spirit within us all and the divine as the source and destiny of all. At the time of his ministry, his was a universal message to people of all faiths, cultures and social standing about the spiritual nature of life and consciousness offering us immortality and a plan of ascendency. He encouraged all to take life and consciousness as a gift freely, with the trust and acceptance of a child, to live in thankfulness for it, giving freely of ourselves to others in love and goodwill now and forever.

The message of an available and personal connection to the grand scheme of things, that the true nature of reality is on a spiritual level that we can tap into now and that holds a hidden destiny for each of us is a truly universal and great ideal. Aligning to values and conscious living in every moment, holding the space of love and gratitude in divine presence, enables better recognition of spiritual truths. While Jesus taught the message of relating to universal consciousness as a divine Father, aligning our minds and hearts to a personal experience of the divine provides a living, profound and immediately relevant source of transformation. Spiritual experience by nature is more transcendent while also being a grounding source of being than the changing landscape of lifestyle and self image, social and cultural differences, or beliefs and ideologies based on historically conditioned trends of the time and contemporary world norms.

Spiritual truth is truth that can apply in any age and is at the base of all great ideals, philosophies and practices that lead to true awakening to those who actively seek and live it. The power and reality of spiritual truths can be recognised not only in the subjective response within the seeker but also in the values and progressively life affirming attributes evident in good people’s lives, in the social fabric of people and communities that take on such faith and values. Spiritual truth is not rocket science, but based on a subtle simplicity of faith and knowing of the pure nature of the heart and mind, a sense of spiritual truth that is a subtle key for the seeker and practitioner.

Thus, at Christmas time as we enjoy the goodwill felt in the company of people we love and share life with, we can affirm the significance and core value of life founded in shared goodwill and friendship. Without goodwill and friendship in its many forms, life becomes empty of shared meaning and fulfilment. With it, we affirm the deep down purity of soul and spiritual nature in ourselves and each other.

In this way, Christmas reinforces renewal of faith in human nature, love and goodwill. Let us renew our faith that the nature of life and consciousness finds its own reflection in such ideals and values, and that opening our hearts and minds deeply and authentically to this knowledge with conviction, can bring us closer to greater personal freedom and realisation within our hearts and minds.

The deep love and unity we feel during these festive times can feel more real than all the passing ups and downs of life’s struggles for a reason. It is a closer reflection of our true nature than the worldly troubles and the mind activity we use to deal with them. While the challenge of life is important for shaping character and refining personal identity and decisions, we need reminding of what our true nature is within and shared. Knowing our true nature provides perspective and a real foundation to be more functional individually and collectively. Acknowledging and valuing this in faith, trust and goodwill further enables us to embody and generate beauty and goodness in our lives. Aligning and co-creating our lives from our true nature of spirit, further enables us to feel fulfilled and truly ourselves, to share and manifest in the world together in the formless essence of joy, friendship and camaraderie as fellow beings on this planet in the vast universe.

Real friendship, generosity of heart, and learning to love each other (warts and all) is rewarding because it is an end in itself. It engages the true nature of being before us and is deeply personal, just as the true nature of life and consciousness is profoundly personal as it is impersonal and universal to all beings.

Embodying life in this spirit, Jesus encouraged not only universal love and brotherhood of all mankind, but gave it the context of a Creator of love and being who we can come to know on a personal level as a child to a parent. Recognising the truth and capacity for oneness in such a divine nature, awakens us beyond our material and ego self, is the foundation of our ascendent path towards the birth of Christ consciousness. This birth from within is a living, present and immediate spiritual cause for celebration for which the traditional nativity scene, the life and teachings of Christ point towards.

With New Year upon us, a reset or new starting point in our choices and decisions of the year ahead, the pursuits that drive us and give us purpose presents itself. New Year is a time we can reflect not only on sought after accomplishments and challenges ahead in a worldly sense, but also how we can more fully apply the values and aspects of our deeper nature to our relationships and the countless tasks of ‘doing’ before us. Where do our deepest convictions lie and how do we exercise them in our work and lifestyle, in our relationships, and in ourselves?

In reflecting on the New Year with the joy of Christmas fresh in our hearts and minds, let us apply conscious intent not only towards key things we want to do or achieve in the coming year but also the state of being and quality of consciousness we want to align with.

In love and good-will I hope you have had a Merry Christmas and wish you the best for a Happy New Year!

Photo by …-Wink-… on VisualHunt.com / CC BY-NC-SA