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I will do my best today, because I want to do it, not because I have to do it and not because I am trying to please others.

   

Tag Archives: happiness

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Our Full Potential

 The more optimistic psychologists and neuroscientists agree that most of us use about 10% of our full mental potential. The pessimistic ones say that number is closer to 2% – but whatever the figure is, it’s certainly small. That leaves 90% or more of our mental capacity spent recycling, rehearsing, regretting or simply dormant.

The Vedic model of the mind states that we are only aware of the surface levels of mental activity. Mental stresses maintain background neural activity at a high level, preventing awareness of the quieter underlying levels of thinking. It’s not unlike speeding down the freeway in a car with the windows rolled down – the noise of the air and engine necessitate our turning the radio up, yet still we hear only the general outline of the music.

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Happiness: Getting Into the Flow

Tal Ben-Shahar, Ph.D. writes a wonderful book called Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment. He is also the author of the pursuit of perfect. There are many great points in his books and I wanted to share a quick chart he explains which according to psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, exemplifies flow (a state in which one is immersed in an experience that is rewarding in and of itself, where action and awareness are merged, and where happiness tends to find us).

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The Unconcern of Meditation

Sitting quietly in meditation is a practice which reveals our least excited state – the very basis of our Being.  However, our least excited state may not always result in an experience of sustained pure silence.  Instead, we must think of our least excited state as our simplest form of awareness in that particular moment

As the mind dives into meditation, our body faithfully and dutifully prints out whatever state of de-excitation the mind is able to achieve.  The sequence is:  first the mind, and then the body.  These are the mechanics of how the body launders stress – through simple rest – and the engine driving that process is the mind. 

As the body unwinds stress, the mind can become active with thoughts, emotions or even body sensation.  Those experiences are the after effect of the body unstressing.  Whenever we have those experiences in our meditation, as long they are preceded by our thinking the mantra, then we know they are the byproduct of stress release.  Something good is happening.

When there is more stress in the body, there are more opportunities for stress to be released.  During the early days of meditation, when the body is still holding a lifetime backlog of stress, only very little de-excitation is needed in order to trigger its release.  As we clear out that backlog through regular practice, the trend is toward more sustained periods of depth in meditation.

However, deeper meditation is not solely a function of how many months or years we have been practicing.  We must also factor in whatever is happening in our current life experience.  Life is change, and with change comes a variety of demands.  Sometimes those demands can overwhelm us and add stress.  Even though experienced meditators find this happening less and less in their lives, no one is completely immune – no matter how much meditation we’ve done.

For most, the three biggest demands in life are change in living situation, change in work (financial) situation and change in relationship status.  Even long time meditators report that their depth of meditation can change when those demands arise.  Oftentimes, meditation during those challenging periods feels more “on the surface” and less relaxing, and some even feel a little agitated coming out of their practice.

If any of those experiences sounds familiar, know that you are not alone.  And also, remind yourself that it is just a small bump in the road – it will pass.  Ultimately, the perfect prescription is simply to keep regular with our practice, and take the whole experience as it comes, without judgement or concern. 

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Meditation and Understanding Fulfillment

Transcendence in our meditation is an experience of bliss. Bliss in its pure state it is far beyond interpretation by the senses. All the senses go silent. In this state of pure contentment, all cognitive processes come to an end.

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Natural Ways to Boost Serotonin

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, chemical substances that transmit nerve impulses across synapses (spaces in between nerve cells or neurons).  In a nutshell, serotonin is best known as the feel good chemical that helps to elevate mood and decrease feelings of sadness. There are many other roles that serotonin plays in the body which are listed below, along with natural ways for each of us to maximize and boost body serotonin!

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Staying Upbeat: How to Overcome S.A.D. Naturally

About 11 million Americans have adverse effects to the doldrums of cloudy, cold and blustery, winter days. A more severe form of winter depression – is S.A.D., or Seasonal Affective disorder.  This diagnosis comes is typically after at least two consecutive years of more intense symptoms. Usually beginning around October and ending in April, S.A.D. can really cause appetite changes, mood swings and depression. Here are natural suggestive ways to best beat S.A.D:

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8 Reasons Why Practicing Gratitude is so Important

“Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others; to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can.” – Dalai Lama

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Inspirational Quote: Intention and Laughter

May you always find reasons to laugh!

“Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Appreciate your friends. Continue to learn. Do what you love. Live as if THIS is all there is.”

Mary Anne Radmacher

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14 Different Ways to Meditate and How You Benefit from Meditation

Standing Meditation: Standing instead of sitting to meditate, the action of standing can actually help people suffering from lower back pain and promotes a greater sense of internal stability.  Stand in a comfortable, straight posture with the feet pointing straight forward, about shoulder width apart. After settling into the position, do a quick scan of the body and mindfully release tension from the body and bring awareness to each part when doing so. Begin with five minutes and lengthen as your practice deepens.

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Your Brain and Body on Laughter: Boosting Your Health

There are so many articles and “this just in” news reports on how much stress can plummet the immune system. I like to be more on the optimistic side, and look at situations with a positive spin, more like looking at the glass half full and speckled with positive ions, so to speak. What does our body look like on laughter, and how does that effect our overall functional health? Several professors from colleges such as Columbus State Community College, the University of Oxford, the University of Zurich and the University of Colorado all positively agree, “laughter can temporarily alter our physical biology for the better.” This filed of study dedicated to deciphering the relationship between human behavior is called psychoneuroimmunology, and it has shown that  the mind is a powerful tool in how it affects the immune system.

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