This video is for anyone carrying an inspirational message. The goal of this vlog is to remind you to always practice what you teach. If you’re teaching gratitude, BE GRATEFUL. If you’re teaching compassion, BE COMPASSIONATE. If you’re teaching forgiveness, PRACTICE THE F WORD. Walk your talk.
Since the issue seems cut and dried, what is there to discuss? — the uncomfortable shadow zone between two world views. Secular society gives special privileges to churches, and politicians cannot succeed without at least paying lip service to a belief in God. Yet as we all know, everything that God once took care of has been usurped over time. Just as we don’t expect God to provide supernatural medical care, so we don’t expect the deity to prevent accidents, divert natural disasters, conquer enemies, or impose divine retribution on wrongdoers. Such expectations were the norm, however, in an age of faith.
For some believers, adapting to a purely secular worldview is abhorrent, and here it is easy to sympathize. Human beings crave meaning, and that often includes a higher meaning. To spend one’s life grinding away at work and accumulating possessions isn’t an adequate substitute. Even a loving family and success isn’t adequate. We are wired to look beyond the material world. It’s been said that all the things denied or unknown to science — beauty, truth, service, morals, compassion, empathy, justice, aesthetics, philosophy, and spirituality — are the very things that make life worth living.
Sadly for believers who take their religion too literally, being dragged into court is backlash from wanting more meaning in their lives. They have been blinded by promises made in the name of God. The priesthood in every society has prospered on such promises, and now that religion wanes every decade, the priesthood needs miracles and Providence and divine love simply to survive. I think the trap of two worldviews won’t end until we arrive at a form of secular spirituality, based on the evolution of consciousness. If someone can experience grace and divine love in their own lives, or if not those things then expanded consciousness, with or without a traditional God, the foundation for such experiences must be their own awareness. Accepting second-hand dogma, however uplifting, always leads to the kind of contradiction these unhappy medical cases exemplify.
Another reason to stress about getting stressed: Chronic stress triggers the formation of insoluble tau protein aggregates in the brain cells of mice. New research from the lead author of the study, Dr. Robert Rissman, the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, sees this as an explanation for the high correlation between chronic stress and an aging population whose brains are not plastic enough to cope with the inflammation of stress the way a younger brain can – this means Alzheimer’s Disease. Note that Alzheimer’s disease process begins decades earlier, so it is important for any adult to nip stress in the bud.
In exposing mice to comparable emotional chronic stress experienced by humans, Rissman found an altered solubility in tau proteins in neurons, which is a precursor to Alzheimer’s. In addition, this disease pathology was first observed in the hippocampus where memories are organized and stored. When patients are evaluated for Alzheimer’s, “the hippocampus is typically the first region of the brain affected by tau pathology and the hardest-hit, with substantial cell death and shrinkage.”
The study clarifies the difference between acute and chronic stress. Acute stress does not do any lasting damage to brain cells and may actually keep cells “on their toes” and more flexible. However, chronic stress because of its duration, day in day out, unleashes an inflammatory response which triggers brain cell pathology. Chronic stress erodes happiness and depletes energy. I have personally experienced and observed chronic stress in caregivers, especially Alzheimer’s caregivers.
Don’t let this research stress you out. Instead, see it as a call to action. Along with exercise, a balanced meal plan and intellectual stimulation, stress management coping strategies should be part of a healthy living program – especially relevant in light of this new research in Alzheimer’s prevention: Always easier to prevent than to treat.
Here are 5 coping tips:
- Move stress out of your body and the mind will follow. Put on your sneakers and walk out the door; turn on the music and dance; housework counts as long as you do it with alacrity. Strength train your brain.
- Watch comedies which lower blood pressure, and make the carotid artery more flexible according to heart healthy medical studies. Also, comedies help you reframe your life into a sit-com helping you take your problems more lightly.
- Make sure to take some time for yourself every day which means shedding a task or two from the endless to-do list. You are not last on the list!
- Meditate or visualize while you breathe deeply according to your own natural rhythm. Meditation relaxes the mind and creates greater neuro-plasticity – and you can give yourself a positive message which you need to hear. Think it, do it and become it!
- Find a creative outlet where you lose track of time and space – this is where you find joy and passion.
A letter Fiona Apple sent to a young fan, Bill Magee, after meeting him at a concert in 2000 is making a big splash in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender blogosphere. Then sixteen years old, Bill asked Fiona if she would write a few setneces of support for his school’s Gay Straight Alliance. A few days later, he received this handwritten response from Fiona in the mail:
“A person who loves is a righteous person, and if someone has the ability and desire to show love another — to someone willing to receive it, then for goodness’ sake, let them do it. Hate has no place in the equation; there is no function for it to perform. Love is love, and there will never be too much.”
Let it Ripple: Mobile Films For Global Change is a new short film series by The Moxie Institute that provides inspiring, impactful films and media for nonprofits all over the world to use to further their reach and impact. For free.
A Declaration of Interdependence is the first film in the series. Featuring music by Moby, it has now translated into 65 languages. Find out more about the project here.
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.
Type 2 diabetes, a disease affects millions of Americans, occurs when the body loses its ability to produce insulin and process sugar from food. In many ways, it is a a disease of affluence: Eating too much is hazardous to your health. On Monday, researchers announced the results of a controversial study that sought to determine which was more effective in treating obese people with type 2 diabetes: weight loss surgery or medication. The results showed that those who had weight loss surgery reversed and even cured their type 2 diabetes.
The two studies demonstrate that those who had the surgery achieved normal blood-sugar levels more often than people just on medicine alone. Some people were even able to stop taking medicine just three days after the surgery.
The first study was conducted by Dr. Philip Schauer from the Cleveland Clinic and examined 150 obese people with diabetes. 1/3 of them were given diabetes medication, while the other 2/3 underwent two different types of weight loss surgeries. Two years later the researchers found that 12% of the medication only patients had healthy blood sugar levels, compared to 42% and 37% of the two groups given surgery. And an added bonus: Those that lost the weight reduced their need for cholesterol and heart medicine as well.
In a second study, Dr. Geltrude Mingrone from the Catholic University in Rome examined 60 obese people with diabetes. Once again, 1/3 of them given medicine alone while the other two groups were given two different types of weight loss surgeries. Again their goal was to study the key blood sugar levels. Two years later the results showed that 95% and 75% of the weight loss surgery patients were able to control their blood sugar levels without medicine. Those in the medication only group were unable to get off their medicine.
I find it sad that people allow themselves to get so fat that their body can’t produce insulin and as a result struggle with a host of issues, like Type 2 diabetes. These people complain they cannot lose the weight and that spending $15,000 or $20,000 on weight loss surgery is more cost-effective for them then the mounting medical bills due to the obesity. What’s the message we are sending people? Gain so much weight that your doctor recommends weight loss surgery so that you can cure yourself of diabetes?
As an American, I find it embarrassing that we are spending money to research how surgery can help with illnesses, caused by people eating too much. Have we lost touch with the idea that we have the ability to control ourselves? Have we forgotten that if we choose to eat healthy, we can control our weight and possibly our resistance to diseases such as Type 2 diabetes?
Should we not be spending money to fund research on how to get people to eat more healthy and figure out why so many people are obese? To me, that would be the better approach so that these diseases of affluence could be better controlled.
I do appreciate that the research is showing that medicine cannot offer the same benefits as being physically healthy. I talk to people who have had weight loss surgery and while they are happy that they no longer are obese, but I also hear how much food still rules their lives. Every meal they have to count protein and ounces. Some of them complain about hair texture changing and problems with digestion. I can’t help but think that any invasive surgery can have negative side effects.
Are these side effects any better than man-made medicines? I hope that for those of you out there struggling with weight loss that you seek help from professionals who can help you identify why you eat the way you do and help you, naturally, overcome your struggle with food. While it may not be as instantaneous as weight loss surgery, it might have better long-term effects.
In the Part 1 and Part 2 of this series (which should be read first) we set down goals for making your own wellness program. No one can do this but you. At the same time, you need to be complete in your approach, which involves looking at both success and failure as the journey unfolds.
Here are 3 more steps to creating your own wellness:
Step 6: Realistically Plan for Setbacks
No one walks a straight line on the journey to wellness. Most studies of lapses in fitness, nutrition and recovery programs show that you can get back on track more easily if you have scripted the way you will recover. It’s also known that those who are successful in breaking highly addictive habits, such as chain smoking, tried and failed any number of times before finally succeeding. So persistence counts, and so does avoiding the familiar excuse of “I’ve tried everything.” The answer is to go back and try everything again.
In planning for setbacks in a realistic frame of mind, the Mayo Clinic makes these helpful recommendations:
- Take charge. Accept responsibility for your own behavior.
- Buy time. If you’re tempted to keep indulging, wait a few minutes and see if the desire passes. Try distracting yourself—call a friend or take the dog for a walk.
- Be gentle with yourself. Practice self-forgiveness. Try not to think of your slip-up as a catastrophe.
- Ask for and accept help. Asking for help is a sign of good judgment, not weakness.
- Work out your guilt and frustration with exercise. Use it to elevate your mood and recommit to your goals—never use it as punishment for a lapse.
- Problem-solve as you go. Identify the problem and create a list of possible solutions. If it doesn’t, try the next solution.
- Recommit to your goals. Review your goals and make certain they’re still realistic.
Step 7: Reaching Your Goal
Reaching a wellness goal, once it has happened, is a big deal. Make sure you mark it accordingly. If you have given up smoking for a long period of time, treat yourself to new shoes or a great book. If you’ve lost weight, buy yourself a new outfit. You deserve to be rewarded, while making sure that you don’t rationalize going on a credit card binge or eating a huge meal as some kind of false reward.
Ironically, after all the effort you’ve put in, life will go on nearly as usual once you achieve your goals. You have reached a new plane of awareness that becomes normal, and by definition the normal feels unremarkable. Even so, cherish the fact that you could and did raise your consciousness.
Also take joy in the fact that the journey continues. There are always higher plateaus of awareness ahead. And even though you realize the positive results you have gained, including improved health and greater satisfaction with your life, reaching your goal won’t resolve every problem in your life.
If you haven’t yet reached your goal and find that your progress is slowing down as you approach it, you may want to revisit whether your ultimate “magic number” is realistic. Goals can be measured by a quantifiable means for the sake of marking progress. But your ultimate goal is really to be healthy, feel better, and enjoy your life more. If you find yourself falling short, give this some thought: maybe you’ve already arrived.
Step 8: A Successful Future
The secret of long-term success is the same as for short-term success: awareness. People who regain the weight they lost are confronting certain hormonal surges, as researchers have proven, by which the body seeks to regain something it thinks it needs – those extra pounds. But we are all more aware than our hormones, contrary to popular assumptions.
The fact that a chemical tells our brain that you are hungry is normal; it’s how we know to eat for sustenance. But that chemical message enters a multi-layered network of reactins going on all the time. You can be hungry and too busy to eat, or too distressed, or distracted, forgetful, sleepy, exhausted, and any number of other things. The trick is to register the hunger impulse and sitll make your own conscious choice.
Therefore, my take is that regaining the weight you lost occurs not from raw calories or hormonal messages – even though they cannot be discounted – but from repeated lapses of attention. You can’t be on autopilot to maintain your healthy lifestyle. Every day you’ll be making conscious decisions to determine the staying power of those new good habits. Instead of taking on awareness as a burden, accept it as the source of your power as a conscious person.
Only you can detrmine how much self-discipline is needed as a parctical matter. As with pain, which registers differently with different people, so impulses and desires are not the smae for everyone. If you’ve lost weight, for example, it’s worth having a look at the National Weight Control Registry. It studies the habits of thousands of people who have lost at least 30 lbs. and have kept it off for at least one year. They are a diverse bunch, but have a few things in common:
- 78% eat breakfast every day.
- 75% weigh themselves at least once a week.
- 62% watch less than 10 hours of TV per week.
- 90% exercise, on average, about 1 hour per day.
Recovery from addiction to nicotine, alcohol, or illicit drugs is notoriously tough, and backsliding is far more common than not. One study looked at recovering addicts who had been abstinent for an extended time (median 12 years). They described the most significant factors that helped them both to start and maintain their recovery.
- 46% said the escalating consequences of substance use.
- 30% mentioned support of peers/family/friends.
- 26% joined 12-step fellowships (Alcoholics Anonymous/NarcAnon).
- 22% had a substance-related accident, arrest, or other legal trouble.
- 22% said treatment or professionals.
- 16% surrendered, wanted to move forward, recover.
- 10% experienced the birth of child, wanted to be responsible parent.
- 10% cited spirituality, a higher power.
No matter what your starting point and your goal, keep these simple but effective, keys in mind:
- Know what your current health status is.
- Know why you want to change your life.
- Give priority to the aspects of your life you want to change first.
- Plan for what might go wrong along the way.
- Make small, steady changes at first.
- Write things down and keep a journal of your journey.
- Find a supportive community.
- Celebrate your successes.
- Remain committed through setbacks.
- Use awareness as the best way to maintain your new lifestyle for the long haul.
I don’t find myself completely in accord with the common notion that the monkey never gets off your back, a truth accepted by recovering addicts – which may be true as they experience life – but which has been widely adopted elsewhere.
Not every bad habit is an addiction. There is a difference between a neural pathway that ingrains a bad habit and a neural pathway that ingrains a good habit. But more importantly, there is the possibility of freeing the brain, making it serve your desire for personal freedom. No one knows in the end why some habits are so destructive and imprisoning that they rise to the level of addictions. In common parlance, we ignore what we don’t know and say “I’m addicted to chocolate” or “I need a fix of comic books” when in fact nothing is holding us prisoner; we could do without as easily as not.
Instead of leaning on the addictions model – with a nod to those who find it a lifesaver – I think the model should be a state of higher awareness, free will, constant evolution, and unlimited personal growth. Those are the precious foundation of wellness, not the mere fact that we consider ourselves healthy and intend to stay that way.
For more information go to deepakchopra.com
It’s day two-and-a-half since coming back into balance with the depth of breaths and sleep I desire and enjoy. I lost myself pretty bad for a moment. I was having symptoms such as: being highly irritable, feeling lonely (and ignoring it), madly running from one appointment/meeting to the next without connecting to myself with meditation and other moments of breathing, etc.
All I can say is that yoga really does work!
My friend, Tommy Rosen, one of the founders of Tadasana Festival (Earth Day weekend in Santa Monica), wrote a letter to us sharing that he was going through major depletion as he is producing the festival, and then realized the same thing: the power of yoga is real!
I feel it truly brings us back to ourselves (our truth) again and again. That person that we know we are truly, underneath all the BS, we are kind souls that only want to love each other sweetly, unconditionally and playfully. I have had glimpses of this throughout my life, and mostly after every retreat and festival I’ve been to. The experience is that I am in love with everyone and only have the feeling of love. There may be judgements that float in and out, here and there, but through it, there is love and, it’s real!
This is the intention of the festivals that are happening in our culture now. The Enliven Festival in May is a five-day training program on how to live in your fullest empowerment. It’s for us to walk away with this in our entire self and learn tools to help us to experience it often. It’s for us beginning our journey and creating a practice that inspires us and more!
The upcoming Tadasana Festival, April 20th-22nd, will be very fun with getting us into our bodies in a powerful way through yoga and the music will be rockin’! I am blessed to be teaching two classes with the most incredible DJs, and closing the festival with DJ Cheb i Sabbah, one of my faves, along with DJ Fabian Alsultany, who I adore. It can’t get any better than this! This weekend is sure to open us up in incredible ways with beautiful people and community to connect with.
I’m committed to being alive in all ways, even in relaxation and especially in balance, and will do everything in my power to remember every time I forget, and experience life through this kindness and sweetness called love. Join me. We need more of us to unite together, and I need the support and cooperative reminder.
Hema’s special gift is a teaching style that invites students to embark on a journey to their own inner joy, fitness in the fullest possible sense. She teaches in Los Angeles, Ojai, Santa Barbara and also offers frequent workshops in Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto, and loves turning her students on to the vibrant styles of Indian dance, from the classical to the latest moves from Bollywood, Bhangra and Indian MTV.Use the code hema4 and receive a discount before April 1st for Tadasana Festival registration.
Do you remember when you stopped believing in Faeries? When the magic of the world suddenly ceased and “reality” set in? That maybe “this” was all there is and life as you knew it changed forever. Suddenly you had to grow up and be cool. It seems that day is coming earlier and earlier for our children. I recall being about 12 or 13 when I began to let the wonder go. To be honest, I’m grateful I never let it go entirely.
Even science agrees saying that 10 is the new 15. Girls are reaching puberty sooner, which is often attributed to either better nutrition (go figure) or obesity (talk about opposite ends of a spectrum!). Kids are being exposed to more sexually explicit images, more information, more technology, more everything. It seems no matter how hard I try I can’t keep her locked up forever.
I thought for a while living in the woods would keep my children safe from the chaos of the world. That was until my 5-year-old daughter came home wanting an iphone because one of the kids in the “spiritually evolved” school she went to had one. Not to mention her mom and dad played with them all too often. Guilty! And yes I recently purchased each of my kids itouches – to keep in touch with them while they are away from me.
But I try to keep a balance. I limit technology time and kept my daughter away from Hannah Montana and the like. I had one of my most proudest mommy moments last year when, with a bunch of friends from her school at a fundraiser at the local California Pizza Kitchen, we ran into Hannah Montana herself. All my daughter’s friends were absolutely giddy and my daughter looks at me and says, “Mom who is that and why is everyone acting so weird?”
My daughter is about to turn 8 and has always been a unique individual. She still believes in magic and faeries, and I frankly think that’s appropriate. But tonight as we lay in bed having our nightly talk she looked me in the eyes and cried and said “I feel alone, no one believes in magic anymore, no one wants to play anymore, all they want to do is sit around and be cool.” Ugh, my heart just sank. I have worried about this conversation. I have struggled with guilt because it’s a tough time for my girl. Her parents divorce crushing her world and now this – her one love is magic and faeries and she feels she has no one her age to share it with. Where have all the faeries gone?
I have wondered as I watch my children grow about the stages of child development. It seems the old ways are out of whack with what’s going on with my kids and I’m not alone! I read a book recently about parenting. Banishing The Boogeyman, which introduced me to the notion that my daughter is empathic and very sensitive. I knew, organically, being her mom that she was a sensitive girl. But understanding the science behind her fears and emotions has helped me to listen to her better and explain her fears in a way that a 7 year old might see them and should see them.
I don’t brush her fears aside with a quick “no honey there’s no monster in your room!” because maybe – energetically there is a monster in her room. Maybe she’s overhearing the TV from the livingroom and that scary movie I’m watching is entering her subconscious mind or maybe that plug near the top of her bed is hitting her with emfs! (Electro magnetic fields of energy). Just my willingness to listen and not blow her off as “wrong” has helped us be able to just talk together. I also desire for her to be a kid, and kids believe in monsters and faeries and who am I to say she’s wrong? It’s her way of explaining how she feels.
I held her while she cried. I so understand how she feels, I told her. Being different is hard especially when so often we are told we should be the same. I told her to never let go of her belief in herself and what she loves. I told her a story about my own childhood when I once tried to teach a wolf spider to spell because I read Charlottes web. (We are reading that together now). I told her how crushed I was when that darn spider wouldn’t spell and finally my mom took it away. But I never stopped believing. I told her she was a rare and special being and that she should never let go of the magic, that too many people in the world have. I told her I believe in magic and faeries and that anything is possible and that’s she’s not alone. Somewhere she’ll find her pack, just be patient.
I am grateful for our nightly talks. I listen and when she’s open to it I try and explain all the things going on in her little body. Hoping that one day it will all make sense. If 10 is the new 15 well, gee, I’m behind the eight ball. Emotions have been a big topic for us lately. She feels so deeply and doesn’t know what all these emotions are or how to manage them (This is what she told me – wow – I wish I could have said that when I was 7!) So we discussed peptides (juices I called them) and how we can actually get stuck on a particular juice and if we don’t take charge of our emotions they will take charge of us! (Thanks Dr. Joe Dispenza!). That the greatest magic wand we have is our brain and our heart and to listen to her heart and to be the captain of her brain. I beamed when I heard her say to her friend at a play day, “Boy, I need to change my juice!”
As a parent I want my child to be a child as long as she can, to believe as long as she can. As I try to keep up with the ever increasing pace at which my children are growing up, I remind myself that their world is different than mine was at 7.
Recently I had a therapist suggest to me that I should tell my daughter that there is no such thing as magic, that faeries don’t exist and that mermaids don’t inhabit the ocean. I sat there for moment wondering if I was failing my child by allowing her to believe in possibility, just for a moment wallowing in the fear of failure, but then I stopped myself and asked her if she could scientifically prove that magic didn’t exist. Could she explain how an electron could be in two places at once? And more importantly, I asked her, “When did you stop believing?”
Love itself does not hurt. It is growth that hurts, the ego that stings.
Each transformation is painful because the old situation is being left behind for the new. Hence, fear arises.
The real problem is the mind. Fear lives in the mind and the mind wants you to hang on to a situation that is known and comfortable for you. The ego-mind resists change because it is afraid of losing control and feels insecure about the unpredictability of the unknown. Love means the death of the ego because love cannot be controlled, it can only be received, accepted. Love is fragile. One day it is there, the next day it may be gone, like the wind. We cannot grasp the wind in our fist. We can only enjoy and appreciate it while it is there.
For the mind, love is a dangerous path. Mind will advise you to avoid love but this is even more dangerous, because love is the central core of our lives. A life without love is a life that is withered and dried up.
It is because of the pain of love that millions live a loveless life, like a rotten seed that has never opened to flower to it’s fullest potential.If you don’t go into love, as many people have decided, then you are stuck with yourself. Then your life is a stagnant pool. You need to keep the energy flowing, like a river which keeps on flowing to the ocean.
So what do we do? Choose love! Always choose love because even though there is pain, to suffer in love is not to suffer in vain; it takes you to higher levels of consciousness. There is a positive, creative outcome for you. If you choose the mind you will also suffer but it will be useless suffering with an unproductive outcome. Life will be dull and you become neurotic from lack of love. To be afraid of love, to be afraid of the growing pains of love, is to remain enclosed in a dark cell.
The transformation is from control of the mind to vulnerability of the heart. And the agony can be deep. But you cannot have ecstasy without going through agony. If the gold wants to be purified, it has to pass through fire.
Love is fire.
Find your courage and love, fully and completely. Trust and live in your heart. Love takes you from the head to the heart and nurtures, comforts and heals you even as you pass through the fire. Love is ever-present to support you.
With love, the soul arises within you; the ego drops and the soul arises. Love is food for the soul.
You can ask yourself:”Is this pain for my growth?” “Is my heart breaking open to give and receive even more love?” Every time your heart breaks open, yes it’s painful, but it means your heart is expanding and deepening. The pain is good and productive for you.
LEARN from each experience, WATCH the ego and CHOOSE LOVE. Go through the dark night, and you will reach a beautiful sunrise. It is only in the womb of the dark night that the sun evolves. It is only through the dark night that the morning comes.
Here is a meditation to encourage and support you.
Meditation: Sixty-Second Stop
This powerful yet simple technique encourages the love in your heart to grow, and it attracts more love to you.
Close your eyes and become aware of your heart.It might help to place your hand on your heart. Bring in a memory of a person, place or event that brings you joy. Feel the happiness filling your heart with that memory. Do this technique whenever you feel disconnected from your heart or whenever you want to increase the love in your heart.
With love to you, my reader. I look forward to your comments.
There is more information on my books, CDs, and workshops on www.discovermeditation.com