Monthly Archives: February 2012

Proof you went psychotic last night… plus why you should ask your boss for naptime

University of California Psychology and Neuroscience Professor, Matthew Walker, gives three good reasons to believe we all become psychotic when we sleep:

  1. You see things that simply were not there (you hallucinate).
  2. You believe things that could not possibly be true (you become delusional).
  3. When you wake up, you probably forget most if not all of what happened (you experience amnesia).

Watch the complete talk here

Matthew Walker is one of my scientific heroes. The man has literally it his mission to prove that midday naps are a vital to learning and that dreams aid in emotional processing. How cool is that?

I was talking to a friend yesterday about how in America (and much of the “modernized” world), we really de-value the importance of sleep in an effort to be more productive. In most cultures throughout history, there has been time set aside — usually right after lunch — for people to rest, digest, have a little siesta before getting back to work. Now, we’re seeing the American work-your-tail-off-9am-to-5pm model being embraced in developing countries all around the world. The underlying assumption is that skipping sleep and working more will make us more productive. But according to Walker’s research… that’s not necessarily the case.

I’ve always been taught that naps are for lazy people, something you only get to do if you’re feeling sick or have a lot of time on your hands. Sleep, however, appears to be a far more complex and integral phenomenon than we give it credit for. A thirty-minute cat nap can help consolidate memory, enhance cognitive skills, and support the integration of emotional experiences. As we learned yesterday, you’ll actually die from lack of sleep before you will starvation. Sometimes, you’re more productive with your head on a pillow than in front of a computer screen.

So maybe catching a few extra Zzzzzz after lunch isn’t such a bad thing after all, even if it does make you a little psychotic.

Photo Credit (CC): MediaSpin

Introducing Our New Managing Editor, Chelsea Roff

Dear Intent Community,

It is with great sadness to announce the news to all of you that I will be stepping down from my position as editor of Intentblog by the end of this month to fully pursue my intention of becoming a full-time illustrator and comic book artist. The last three years (!) have gone by so fast, and it has truly been an incredible journey working with the Intent Team and being a part of such a positive and compassionate community dedicated to manifesting peaceful intentions for a better world. Thank you everybody–the Intent Team, our Intent Voice bloggers, and all of you Intenters–for your inspiration and support!

Please welcome Chelsea Roff to the Intent family, who will be our new managing editor of Intent Blog and has many exciting plans for revitalizing our ever-growing community of bloggers and readers. Below, Chelsea shares with us a few things about herself, her passions and interests, and how she plans on growing the Intent Blog community.

If you had to describe yourself in five words, what would they be?

Happy, driven, visionary, inquisitive, loving

What were you doing before you came to Intent?

Let’s see… For about the past year, I’ve been serving as Managing Editor for an online yoga magazine. I have had such a good time doing that… basically I got to spend my summer traveling around to different communities to write about and feature the work of inspiring people doing amazing things in the world.

What else? Service has played a significant role in my life; in Dallas (where I just moved from) I co-founded an organization called Studio to Streets that offers free yoga classes in juvenile detention centers and homeless shelters. I teach yoga. I also just finished up my Bachelor’s Degree in Health Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Texas Arlington, so I’m a bit of a nerd at heart. Oh, and I write. Of course. I love to write. That’s been my life over the past four years in a nutshell… I’ve had my hands in many pots!

Why do you think it is important to set an intent? 

Intention, to me, is all about bringing awareness and purposefulness to our lives, to the way we relate to ourselves and others, to each and every moment. When I set an intent, I enter into an agreement, a promise if you will…. to live better, happier, healthier, whatever it may be. If I bring my actions into alignment with my intent, the benefits will ripple out to effect not only me, but every person I come into contact with. That’s powerful.

Have you ever had someone randomly buy your cup of coffee at Starbucks? Maybe you felt so grateful and inspired that you felt compelled to buy someone else’s drink for them the next time you were there? That’s intention. We change ourselves, and the world changes because of it.

As the new managing editor, what is your intent for Intentblog? 

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately, and really I think it can all be summed up in one word: Community.

I hear a lot of people nowadays bemoaning how much time we all spend in front of our computers, but to be honest, I don’t think it’s always a bad thing. The internet (and especially websites like Intent) provide us with tremendous opportunities to build community beyond traditional borders. When, in this history of life on this planet, have we ever been so aware of the circumstances faced by people hundreds of thousands of miles away from us? When have we ever had so many different opportunities to connect with likeminded individuals? When has the notion of building a global community ever been so possible?

My intention with the Intent blog is to build community. To share stories, connect people, and provide resources for us all to live more happy, purposeful, and peaceful lives.

What is your personal intent? 

My intent (for my entire life, mind you!) is to do something worthy of a Nobel Peace Prize. The keyword in that sentence is worthy! I don’t care if I actually get one, but wow… I would be a very happy woman if I went knowing I had contributed to making this world a more peaceful place.


 

Find your passion through… bookbinding?

Rachel Hazell is a traveling bookbinder who believes “everybody has a story inside of them.” The self-proclaimed bibliophile believes this so much, that she’s trottin’ across the globe to inspire people to dig deeper within to share their stories through the art of binding hand made books.

She hopes that you too, will be inspired to pause and earmark a page out of your busy life to share your story and find your passion – whatever it may be.

When I heard that Rachel’s latest stop was in San Francisco, I knew I had to meet her. We met at one of my favorite haunts, Café Sapore, in the charming neighborhood of North Beach (San Francisco’s version of Little Italy) to talk about her passion.
The sun broke through the chilly breeze as we sat outside this cozy café and sipped our beverages. She shared with me why she’s dedicating her life to helping people tell their stories through her unique craft.

“My love for bookbinding was innate and came out of loss,” Rachel says in an energetic British accent. When she was eight, she remembers the neighbors in her countryside of Somerset would sell apples along the roadside. She was so fascinated with books and how they were put together, she taught herself how to make books and wanted to sell them on the side of the road, but wasn’t allowed. “The little books were awful,” she admitted with a quirky laugh. But it brought her joy – a joy she wants to share with everyone she meets.

“When I make books and I’m teaching people, time stops. I am fully in the moment and don’t worry about anything else.” She says smiling.

By her early twenties, she endured two tragedies. Both parents passed away. She had an epiphany – life is too short not to love what you do. ‘Read make love books’ became her mantra. She went off to Edinburgh to study, and there she took a bookbinding workshop where the eureka moment hit! She realized she wanted to do this the rest of her life and pass the inspiration on. “I started teaching friends how to bind books around my kitchen table. They shared with their friends and then people started to ask me to travel to their hometown to teach workshops,” Rachel said genuinely.

Over the course of our time together, I learned that, like binding the pages in books, Rachel’s joy comes from bringing people together. I started to see that the process allows people to delve deeper inside themselves to discover their own passion in the stories of their lives. What she loves most is the sense of community and discovery — a sort of cathartic coming together – that emerges from a bookbinding session. Her carefully thought out, hand made, detailed storybooks are as personal as the stories they imbue.

For the past few years Rachel has dedicated her time traveling to all corners of the world to teach others her unique craft. She brings small groups and communities together in workshops and teaches them how to extract their personal stories, telling them through a myriad of textures — old torn out book pages, thread and every material and scrap of paper imaginable.

Why bookbinding? “When I’m doing it, it feels right. I don’t think of anything else. It is pure joy!”  Rachel says she loves witnessing schoolchildren and people working together, sharing materials and stories. “A mother e-mailed me and said her daughter came home to tell her how excited she was to learn about making books. And that she was never that excited about anything in her life!”

If Rachel can create and inspire people to discover their passions as a BOOKBINDER (and make a living out of something as esoteric as the craft of bookbinding) anyone can live their passion.

Here are some of Rachel’s tips on taking the steps to finding your passion:

  1. One step at a time. Everything big starts off with a single idea and small actions.
  2. Get creative with the resources you have — like researching online and the local library.
  3. Network – don’t be afraid to ask. If you don’t ask, people don’t know how to help.

At the end of the day we walked to a hidden gem of the neighborhood, near the east steps near Coit Tower. This was our view:

We took a moment to take in the calm of the trees that surrounded us and the view of the water. This moment seemed to quiet the hum of the city hustle bustle. We exchanged our favorite meditation techniques. Rachel revealed that she doesn’t think she’s a spiritual person and that, figuratively, “her book isn’t out yet.” My hunch is that with each stop, each lesson and each person she meets, the chapters of her life’s passion are being bound by joy.

What’s your passion? Are you living it? If not, why not? Please share your story in the comment section below.

16 Fascinating Facts About Sleep (Infographic)

Sleep is probably one of the most important contributing factors to our health,  yet most of us know surprisingly little about it. We spend roughly 1/3 of our lives sleeping (that’s thirty years if you live to be ninety!), and while it may look like there’s not a lot going on while you’re asleep, it’s far more complex than many of us would imagine. Most of scientific knowledge we have gained has only been acquired in the past twenty five years, and there’s still a great deal of mystery about how this altered state of consciousness works. 

But here’s what we do know…

Graphic Designer: Ellie Koning

Each week on the Intent Blog, we feature articles, videos, and images to inspire you to live a healthier, happier, more fulfilling life. This week, our focus is Rest and Sleep. If you’ve recently set an intent related to Sleep, share it with us in the comment section below. We’ll do our best to support you with interesting content to keep you motivated along the way!

Deepak Chopra on Higher Health (Part 2)

In Part 1 of The Higher Health we discussed the possibility that higher health was possible, reaching beyond our current conception of wellness. Such an advance depends on two things. The first, which isn’t new, is to comply with current prevention measures that too many people ignore.  The words “diet, exercise, and stress management” roll off the tongue so easily that many have learned to ignore them. Yet recent research confirms just how crucial these lifestyle choices are.

For much of the recent past, prevention has been focused on recognized lifestyle disorders like type 2 diabetes and heart disease. It is now it is becoming clear, however, that the body as a whole is being affected. For example, inflammation, which has long been known to be damaging to our tissues and organs, is now believed to be linked far more broadly to all kinds of possible disorders, including cancer. If you are not complying with prevention, there is mounting evidence that your choice to avoid exercise, ignore stress, and eat a diet high in calories and fat will lead to bad results over time.

The reason for this conclusion is more obscure than anyone ever supposed, and it leads to the second platform of higher health: working with your body’s intelligence.  The notion of the body’s intelligence is more than three decades old, and it is based on the discovery of “messenger molecules.” These molecules are floating chemicals that interconnect the brain with various parts of the body.  The average doctor and patient don’t think much about how cells communicate; yet, three decades on, we know with a certainty that the human body is a vast process, not just a structure.  Every cell’s outer membrane is a kind of antenna that constantly monitors what the rest of the body is doing, feeling, thinking, and processing. As the messages shift, so does the cell. The result is holistic and dynamic, which is to say, every part participates in the whole and no change can affect one cell without affecting all the others.

Here lies the real frontier of higher health. If you look on your body as a feedback loop within which are thousands of smaller feedback loops, the system must contain the following:

- Messages in and messages out

- Senders and controllers of information

- balancing mechanisms

- Flexible limits for action and reaction

Higher health emerges from gaining control over these parameters. They sound like abstractions, but they are the basis for how cells live, eat, and breathe. Forty years ago, cells we didn’t believe cells did much else. But now we realize that cells are participatory — everything you do, they do. This includes your moods, beliefs, expectations, fears, and dreams. Your brain registers the subjective side of life, yet the inner world includes trillions of cells that do not speak or think verbally. They participate through the dynamics of biochemistry, non-verbally but just as present in the moment – or stuck in the past – as you.

In practical terms, when you take a bite of food or get on a treadmill, you are talking to your cells, sending messages back and forth. You are adding to a sense of control or subtracting from it (i.e., allowing random and habitual messages to dominate). You are going into balance or out of balance. You are becoming more flexible in your responses or less. Ultimately, you are responsible, at the level of self-awareness, for maintaining a complete world as it expands or contracts, goes in and out of crisis, confronts challenges, and so on.

The fact that every road leads to the body’s intelligence is crucial here, because it implies that you have more control (over input and output, balance and imbalance, flexibility or rigidity) than some mechanical agent like your genes or the involuntary nervous system.  Because the body is a process, structures come second. This is a big reversal from the generally-accepted paradigm, as medical education has always been first and foremost about structures (cells, tissues, hormones). The goal of Western medicine has been to standardize diseases — fixing each one in a tight, isolated cause-and-effect scheme. But if you look at a key system like the immune system, once described as a battle ground between the body and invading germs, it becomes evident that all kinds of common things — being fat, losing your spouse, getting fired, having inflamed joints — are inescapably linked to how strong or weak your immune system is.

In short, holistic health has become inevitable. A piecemeal approach to wellness doesn’t fit how your body works. It is no longer “alternative” medicine that concerns itself with broad issues of holistic wellness. The need is universal, and the sooner we begin to lay down practical guidelines for living holistically, the closer we will come to higher health. In the next post I’ll cover some proposed guidelines.

 Stay tuned for Part 3…

 

www.deepakchopra.com

Follow Deepak on Twitter

Inspivid: It’s Halftime in America

Everyday we spotlight one remarkable video to inspire you to fulfill your intentions and improve your life. Do you have a video you’d like to suggest? Send it to us at editor [at] intent.com.

Did you watch the superbowl yesterday? Okay, dumb question, we know. But just in case you were chatting with friends or munching on snacks when this commercial aired, we thought it too good not to share.

“It’s Halftime in America. And our second half is about to begin. All that matters now is looking ahead and finding a way forward.”

We All Count

At 4am, on Friday morning January 27th, hundreds of volunteers left deployment centers throughout San Diego County to count homeless people. Called, “We All Count,” this annual enumeration of homeless people in the county is run by the San Diego Regional Task Force on the Homeless.

Beginning in 2005, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has mandated that, agencies receiving HUD funding needed to count the homeless people in their cities on a bi-annual basis. One of the goals of this point in time count is to provide a snap shot of homelessness during the last week of January every two years. The results of this count are used to justify the funds being sent to the recipient agencies to help homeless people within their cities.

A homeless friend and I were two of these enumerators. We drove up and down designated streets and alleys of Ocean Beach, San Diego, counting homeless individuals and vehicles potentially housing individuals. The third category we could have counted were “hand-built structures,” but we did not see any during our drive.

During our over two-hour drive in Ocean Beach, we counted over 60 homeless individuals and 100 vehicles which were potentially housing individuals.

Although the count may sound very dry to some of us, I was touched by a number of things we saw. For example, in one alley, we saw a carport where four homeless individuals were sleeping a person-apart from each other. They were sleeping on the cement with apparently no ground cover and no blankets.

Currently, volunteers, including myself and my homeless friend, are conducting surveys of homeless people on behalf of the Regional Task Force on the Homeless. These surveys are intended to ask those people who were homeless on the same morning as the count specific questions eliciting personal information about them, questions about what are their sources of support and questions about why they are homeless. In return for answering the over 100 questions presented to them, the homeless person receives a $10 gift card to Subway. All surveys are intended to be completed with days of the count.

Homelessness is a reality that is challenging for me to fathom, especially seeing homelessness up-close, here in America, the land of plenty.

Image Credit: MLF.org

The Inner Journey of a World Traveler

Long ago in my life there was a yearning. I struggled to find my way. I searched, wondering if this ‘thing’ was outside of me? Perhaps it was a ‘place’ I might someday arrive at. If only I could have more of ‘this’, do more of ‘that’, experience more of me, love more of you. On and on it went, reaching towards the external. Whether it was obsessive shopping for mundane things I didn’t need, or indulging in substances that would never fill the void, it all resulted in an unfulfilled desire that pulled me down. This grasping and lack of fulfillment continued for nearly two decades.

I thought I would never find my way back home to a place where I no longer had to search restlessly. I wanted to be in a place that was settled, soft, open, and aware. Above all, I wanted to be content. That craving took me on a different kind of journey. And as I found the courage to travel both internally and externally I began to find my footing.Carré Otis

Part of that external journey took me to Kathmandu,  gateway to the Himalayas. I traveled by foot, up winding mountain passes, across hanging bridges that swayed over great white water rivers that fed the lands below.

I traveled by train, plane, bus and horseback, through cities filled with smiling faces, ancient languages, cows standing proud in the midst of traffic jams on crowded city streets. I visited the sacred temples and Stupas, lit candles and whispered mantras. I sat at the feet of extraordinary teachers, listening for hour upon hour to all that they had to share. I was not the first to come visit them. I would not be the last.

Of course I was in search of the Lama. The Guru. I had traveled across oceans to find the master teacher who would have every answer. I dutifully attended loud and sweaty yoga classes, trying not to be irritated with the politics some of the teachers preached while the class was groaning and struggling in downward facing dog.

Carré OtisBut it didn’t dawn on me until I started the inner journey that what I was seeking externally was really within.

One damp and grey day in Malibu, I walked the windswept beach. There wasn’t a soul in sight. I watched as the menacing waves rolled in, shifting the patterns of sand and stone, transforming all that they washed over. I returned home, dried off and made a cup of tea. I was alone with only the sound of the distant ocean for company. I had been living alone for several years and despite all my travels, all of my yoga classes, all of the teaching’s,  I still was alone.

I realized in that moment that at a certain point the search must stop. I had been so damn busy searching that I hadn’t yet taken that final step. I had to surrender. What I had been searching for was within. I just needed to do the precious work to reveal and stabilize it.

I took the basics that I had been given, the treasured instructions that are shared between teacher and student, and began to put these principles in to practice. I began to recognize when I slipped back into seeking balance externally, and to counteract that urge by literally sitting with it. I sat with it on my meditation cushion or just by taking several deep breaths. Step by step, day by day, I wove a thread of continuity. I made a commitment to follow through, and to be with what was. Instead of going out on a shopping spree or getting ‘busy’ with mind-numbing activities, I would turn my attention towards more mindful things, like weeding my garden or writing in my journal. Everything that arose became an opportunity to practice mindfulness and compassion. Almost paradoxically, out of this peace the great passion of my life arose.

This spirit permeated my existence and my actions. It became an energy that was so perfectly woven into every fiber of my being that all I needed to do to access it was to slow down. It infused my intuition, my answer and question process, my overall sense of calm and contentment.

The process of searching outside of myself had blinded me, as it has blinded so many others, from what was right there all along. At last, I was able to directly connect with this passion and it fueled me to discover the many ways to meet my life’s purpose. By realizing — or rather, remembering — that the fire of passion must first be ignited from within before we can experience it externally.

I now feel I embrace this fire in my everyday life. I find it cuddling with my daughters in bed before the sun rises, or embracing my husband after a long trip, to the work I do speaking with teenagers about self esteem and healthy identity issues. Passion-in the purest sense of the word-is my life force and my enthusiasm for sharing this passion is what guides my way.

Susan G. Komen Reverses Planned Parenthood Decision

THIS JUST IN: After a massive public outcry against the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s decision to pull funding for breast cancer screenings from Planned Parenthood, the largest breast cancer charity in the world has issued an apology.

In case you had any doubt that your Facebook posts and tweets make a difference…

“We want to apologize to the American public for recent decisions that cast doubt upon our commitment to our mission of saving women’s lives,” Nancy G. Brinker, Komen’s chief executive, said in a statement posted on the organization’s Web site. The statement added, “We will continue to fund existing grants, including those of Planned Parenthood, and preserve their eligibility to apply for future grants.”

The reversal comes in the face of an enormous furor over the decision and widespread complaints that the Komen foundation was tying breast cancer to the abortion issue. Comments on social networks like Facebook and Twitter raged about the move, and donations, including a $250,000 matching grant from Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York City, poured into Planned Parenthood, allowing it to compensate for the $700,000 in Komen money that would have been cut.

 – New York Times

In a public statement, the foundation is has insisted that the move to cut Planned Parenthood’s funding was not political in nature, but did acknowledge that political dynamics around the highly-charged abortion had made the decision controversial.

“The events of this week have been deeply unsettling for our supporters, partners and friends and all of us at Susan G. Komen,” the the foundation’s publist said. “We have been distressed at the presumption that the changes made to our funding criteria were done for political reasons or to specifically penalize Planned Parenthood. They were not.”

Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood, had this to say about the response on social media: “I have never seen anything catch fire like I have the outpouring [of support] from people of all walks of life.”

So there you have it… the power of social media realized! Did you post about the Komen-Planned Parenthood debacle? What was your reaction?

Why Passion Matters in Your Career!

Not all that long ago I had a conversation with the former vice president of recruitment from a major car rental agency about the role of passion in job hunting. As we looked around the packed auditorium I asked him how he could differentiate truly viable candidates from those desperately throwing darts at the board.

His answer was simple: “I look for passion.” He went on to say that he and his team focus on those who demonstrate genuine enthusiasm for creating a positive customer experience. To be successful at his company he really believed that agents have to have that inner desire to work with people to create solutions. Quite simply, passion matters.    

On the flip side, think about the last time you were at the Department of Motor Vehicles (or any other similar administrative government bureaucratic entity for that matter). It usually starts with a long painfully slow line that culminates in a frustrating interaction with an emotionless bureaucrat robotically going through the motions. You can feel the apathy in the air, an apathy that only serves to enhance the negativity of the experience. Would it hurt to have just a little passion for helping someone through the process?

Harnessing Passion

When it comes to behavior there are a multitude of factors that motivate how and when we act.

Just as your personality, culture, upbringing, and education influence your behavior, so too does your passion. Passion can be thought of as a root emotion that compels you to take action, an emotion that is often influences by external forces that influence our perceptions about what is exciting and alluring.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary describes passion as an emotion that is “deeply stirring or ungovernable.” In other words, passion is something that must be harnessed. Your passion can be as much of a detriment as it is an asset, which is why you must be mindful of its power. The ability to harness your passion for positive gain can provide you with a tremendous advantage. The first step is to explore where your passions really lie by asking yourself:

• What is meaningful to me and what gives me a sense of purpose?

• What generates excitement and enthusiasm in me?

• What types of activities truly engage me in a positive way?

Aligning Passion and Work

Will your passions and your work always be perfectly aligned? Of course not!

Often your greatest passions will lie outside the realm of work. The idea is to find a way to close the gap between your passions and your careers as best you can.

This means figuring out what your passions are and then seeking out those opportunities that best allow you to align your passions with activities that generate income. The harsh reality is the most of us spend most of our waking hours working.

For those who are unemployed or underemployed, most of your time is spent working toward getting back to work. At the end of the day, focusing your energy where your passions are only makes sense. Having a positive emotional connection to your vocation will help create a better experience for both you and those around you.

Passion matters when you learn to use it to your advantage. If you can effectively demonstrate to our potential employers that you have that energizing spark or extra edge, you become infinitely more valuable, and you stand out. Remember, recruiters aren’t looking to hire people who need the job, they are looking for people who want the job. They are looking for those candidates who stand out and have something genuine to offer. Find your passions and learn how to use them to your advantage.
Creative Commons License photo credit: geeky_spaz

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