Posts tagged ‘health’

April 26, 2012

Right Mind-ed-ness

Our left hemisphere is all about the past and the future and serves as the voice inside of our head. Our right hemisphere is all about the NOW and overall perception of being. 

One strategy of “getting into our right minds” is meditation. Meditation is the practice of detaching from one’s thoughts. Many people think that to engage in meditative practice, you have to absolutely free of conscious thoughts. In “Meditation in a New York Minute”,  Mark Thornton reviews many types of meditative practice. The one teaching that was the most valuable for me is that the initial focus of meditation is to detach from your thoughts. When meditating, you can still have your internal dialogue, but the goal is to detach and observe your thoughts as if they are just words floating by. In short, we breathe deeply and try to get in our right hemisphere.

If you are a recovering cynic such as myself, the mere mention of meditation may trigger a belief system that resists this concept. This resistant vision may include pictures of hippies with headbands across their long hair sitting on a grass field making daisy chains while chanting Ohmmm. At least, that was my internal response about six years ago.

Today, I look at meditation pragmatically. I have studied the effects of meditation on myself. The results of my “single-subject research design” (with very loose qualitative data) is that when I have the habit of meditating for at least five minutes per day, I am better able to detach from my thoughts. I also noticed that once I started to observe my thoughts objectively, I was better able to control my thoughts and to change my thought patterns.

In summary, Meditation allows up to observe and evaluate our thoughts and to increase awareness that we can be separate from our stream of thoughts.

Now meditation is good for the 20% of conscious thought that we can control. What do we do about the other 80% of unconscious thoughts and belief systems?

The short answer is….Work on it! On great way to work is through positive affirmations.

Again, six years ago my cynical self groaned a “good grief” every time I heard about positive affirmations. My belief system at that time was that positive affirmations are good for those “new age folks”. I had the comedic image of Al Frankin’s Stewart Smally  –

Affirmation helps re-shape our unconscious beliefs. The more we think and affirm our new belief and the more feeling that we attach to this belief, the more this new belief will become a part of our subconscious belief system. Positive affirmations can help improve our self-concept and self-confidence. Ironically, earlier this morning I was listening to a great podcast on self-confidence on “Life Habits”. http://lifehabits.net/2009/04/24/lh32-self-confidence/

In short, meditation and positive affirmations can be effective strateiges in re-shaping our thoughts and beliefs.

Happy thinking!

April 13, 2012

Finding your Rhythm

When changing a habit or when adding a new activity to your lifestyle, it is helpful to find a time for this new habit/routine.  If we do not know where to place this new habit/routine into our schedule, it is very easy to forget to perform this activity. Once you habit becomes a part of your daily rhythm, it is a lot easier to maintain.

For my own “habit change challenge”, I found that that only way that I could be consistent with implementing my target habits was to find a regular place for them in my daily schedule. Since I have two young children, I found it was best to add my new activities during times of the day when my children are asleep. In the morning, I exercise, meditated and listen to positive meditation podcasts. At night, I blog, journal my successes and list the things for which I am grateful.  Having this structure in place has helped immensely. I have been waking up early and exercising for over a year. After exercising, I have just enough time to shower, get dressed, make lunch, eat breakfast, kiss the family goodbye and leave for work. I have found that I needed to meditate and perform my affirmations before my workout since it was better to have a slightly shorter workout than to miss the opportunity to perform these activities all together.

What works for you! Please share your ideas of ensuring that you have time for some positive time for yourself.

April 10, 2012

Real Life Inspiration

Today, I received some awesome inspiration from a couple of conversations that I stumbled upon during my daily routine.One of my co-workers has recently returned to work after a stroke and a variety of other medical complications. She always had a positive attitude before she became ill and she continues to have an ebullient disposition. We spoke for a while about how it can be easy to fall into the habit of “ruminating” on past events as well as choosing what we want to focus our thoughts on. To demonstrate the importance of choosing your outlook, she told me that when a friend of hers stated, “wow, you have really had a rough year this year”, she replied that even during the worst days of her illness, she still found moments every day where things went well. To me, this is an inspiring reminder. Even if you are recovering from a major illness, there are always positive moments to collect.

Later that day, I stated to a friend of mine “man, it would be great to win the Lottery”. He replied, “You already have won”. “Just think about where you are in this world. You could be living in a country with limited resources.” I realized immediately that he was absolutely right. Our live is already full of abundance. There are always moments to enjoy. There are always people to share good times with.

You are already a winner! Every moment has bits of joy that just need to be recognized!

 

March 6, 2012

Being Sick

Although we are all in control of healthy habits such as washing our hands regularly, eating the right foods, taking our vitamins, drinking orange juice, getting enough sleep, managing stress and exercising regularly, we can still get sick. Don’t get me wrong. I strongly suggest maintaining the healthy habits listed above since these habits greatly reduce our chances of acquiring an illness. We still cannot control interacting with someone who is virulent and does not know it.

Whatever the case, I am sick.

I wish I could say that I am not prone to getting frustrated when I am sick. There are so many things on my “To-Do list” that I would like to attend to. As I have stated before, I am a recovering cynic and there are plenty of life triggers that can facilitate a “cynical event”.  As I sit pathetically motionless in my bed, I feel a tinge of guilt as my wife attends to the needs of our children and the household.

Stop! Wait! This is just another learning experience.

When we are sick, our life goals should change. Instead of focusing on that morning workout you missed since you did not have the energy to get out of bed, focus on getting better.

1)   Delegate – As soon as possible, inform people that you work with or who you live with your energy status. If other people know your health status and there is truly an important task that needs to be completed, other people can help you out.

2)   Take care of yourself   – Your body is tired for a reason. Your immune system is fighting overtime to attack whatever virus has invaded your body. The more your rest, the more your body’s resources can prioritize fighting the unwanted invaders. Now is the time to watch guilt free TV. It is time drink lots of water, drink hot tea or drink orange juice. Sleep is a priority. If you are very sick or sick for a long time, please call your doctor!

3)   Forgive yourself  – Forgive yourself for your current status of not getting things done. Wellness does not arise out of stress. Forgiving yourself can eliminate your “but I should” and “but I want to” thoughts.

4)   Be Grateful – Even when your throat is hurting, your head is pounding, your stomach is turning and your intestines are rioting, you can find something to be grateful about. Currently, I am grateful for a soft bed and the love and support given to me by my wife and kids. In other times when I am horrifically sick, I have been grateful for the cool tile on the bathroom floor. Like forgiveness, gratitude can help re-frame your outlook.

5)   Be Here, NOW! – In this moment you are sick with no energy. Please accept the situation for what it is. Thinking about that report that is due Friday is not going to be very helpful here and now.

6)   Ease back into your routines – If we rush ourselves in resuming our daily routines and responsibilities, we can prolong the illness. Start things slowly. Try giving yourself 5 minutes of light housework and then give yourself a rest. Instead of jumping into your hardcore cardio workout or performing an insane amount of pull- ups, use your typical workout time to stretch your muscles.

I hope that you stay well this cold and flu season. May your healthy routines keep the pathogens at bay. If you do get sick, remember that “this too shall pass”.

Be well!

March 2, 2012

Codependency

 Wikipedia defines Codependency as unhealthy tendency to behave in overly passive or excessively caretaking ways that negatively impact one’s relationships and quality of life. It also often involves placing a lower priority on one’s own needs, while being excessively preoccupied with the needs of others.
Codependency can be a way for the codependent person to gain a sense of control over their life situation. By making an effort to solve other people’s problems, the codependent feels a sense of accomplishment and control. Sometimes, a codependent solves other’s problems since they feel that they are unable to solve their own problems. A codependent may consistently place another person’s needs in front of their own needs due to a belief that they are not worthy. Codependency can develop as a coping mechanism to address a hectic upbringing. The codependent may have learned to anticipate and take care of the needs of volatile personalities in the home to reduce the chance of the volatile personality from exploding. Codependents can view it as their “moral obligation” to serve others and see this obligation. Although someone with codependent tendencies sees themselves as a giving person, codependent actions can hurt ourselves and frustrate others.

Today, some co-workers were moving from one office to another office. I started helping out, even though I was working on a deadline. I prioritized their need to move heavy furniture versus making sure my own work was complete. I also hurt my lower back by doing too much. 

Another codependent situation occurred when a co-worker tried to help out my office by delivering a desk. Unfortunately, the desk was heavy and did not fit the work space. This person was trying to solve a problem without asking. If that person had asked about the need for a desk, the desk would not have been moved needlessly. 

Yes, I know that this are small examples. 

Next time you are doing something from someone else consider:
– did they ask for help?
– will this harm me in any way?
– I am doing this with a true generous spirit?
I am interested in hearing your thoughts.
March 1, 2012

The End of The World, And I Feel Fine

Many say that the Mayan Calendar predicts “Doomsday” for December 21, 2012.

Joe and Moe are brothers. Each of them has heard of this ominous date. In fact, Joe and Moe discussed the Mayan calendar during a Holiday family dinner on December 21, 2011. At that dinner, Moe insisted that the Doomsday date was accurate. Joe reflected on this date and said “you could be right” and shrugged. After this dinner, Moe thought about the impending Doom constantly, while Joe never took the date seriously.

Over the next year, Moe fretted over the impending end of the world. He watched multiple documentaries on cable TV about possible scenarios on how the world was going to end. He would watch shows on earthquakes, monster storms, global warming, nuclear devices being set off by terrorists, plagues, germ warfare, global pandemics and global financial meltdowns.Each day he would watch the news fearfully as he heard of pedophiles, local murders and food that could kill you. Moe spent the majority of his free time thinking of how to protect himself. In July, he quit his job and moved to an undisclosed location where he built a bunker deep underground. His wife and family did not join Moe in his bunker. Moe’s family thought that Moe had gone crazy and they hoped that he would come to his senses, especially if the world was still around 12-21-12. For the rest of the year Moe toiled on his bunker and continued to feast on a media diet of fear. Moe’s dominant thoughts were worrisome and most of the time he experienced fear, dread and anger.

Joe had a very different year than his brother. On New Year’s Eve 1-31-11, Joe , his wife and two children celebrated in Time Square. They were not able to get right next to the main stage, but they were very grateful of the experience of sharing New Year’s with the crowd. For the Superbowl, Joe’s family hosted a party with all their neighbors and friends and everyone had a great time. Even Moe’s family came without Moe, who thought that any celebration when the world was going to end was silly. In February, the family went on a ski vacation for the four day weekend. During the spring, Joe and his family had fun going to their son’s baseball games in addition to a couple of professional baseball games and went camping together a couple of times. In July, Joe’s family took a vacation to Southern California where they went to the beach, Disneyland, Legoland, Knotts Berryfarm and the San Diego Zoo. In October, the family hosted a Halloween party with a haunted house. In November, Joe and his family went to his parent’s place and enjoyed an epic turkey dinner with all of the fixings. Joe’s dominant thoughts and feelings were of  health, happiness, and appreciation.

On December 21, 2012, a gigantic solar flare erupted at 6:01 AM. The radiation of the solar flare was so intense, it anililated every life form on earth. Even Joe could not survive in his underground bunker.

Who had the better year?

Influence Versus Control

Many say that the Mayan Calendar predicts “Doomsday” for December 21, 2012.

Joe and Moe are brothers. Each of them has heard of this ominous date. In fact, Joe and Moe discussed the Mayan calendar during a Holiday family dinner on December 21, 2011. At that dinner, Moe insisted that the Doomsday date was accurate. Joe reflected on this date and said “you could be right” and shrugged. After this dinner, Moe thought about the impending Doom constantly, while Joe never took the date seriously.

Over the next year, Moe fretted over the impending end of the world. He watched multiple documentaries on cable TV about possible scenarios on how the world was going to end. He would watch shows on earthquakes, monster storms, global warming, nuclear devices being set off by terrorists, plagues, germ warfare, global pandemics and global financial meltdowns.Each day he would watch the news fearfully as…

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February 29, 2012

Compassion

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.

– Dali Lama

Compassion is not religious business, it is human business, it is not luxury, it is essential for our own peace and mental stability, it is essential for human survival.

– Dali Lama

The whole idea of compassion is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all these living beings, which are all part of one another, and all involved in one another.” – Thomas Merton

Dictionary.com defines compassion as “a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.” I definitely agree that compassion incorporated the strong feeling to alleviate the suffering of others. However, I feel that compassion is much deeper than a “feeling of deep sympathy or sorrow”. Compassion is deeper that “pity” or sympathy alone. When we show compassion to another, we understand the other’s feelings as a part of the human condition. Compassion arises out of the awareness that all people have the possibility to experience the same range of human experience all human experiences and human emotions. Compassion allows understanding of another person’s perspective since we can imagine ourselves reacting to the situation in a similar manner. Compassion is the desire to relieve another’s suffering. We can demonstrate compassion when another person is experiencing great anger, frustration, as well as sadness and loss.

When you demonstrating compassion, you perceive yourself as an equal to the one you are demonstrating compassion for. For example, if we feel compassion for someone who is homeless and down on their luck, we understand that we too could be homeless and it a similar situation. When friends or family make poor decisions (such as engaging in addictive patterns), compassion allows us to see that we have the same possibility to make similar decisions. When we interact with other people compassionately, others are able to feel supported in a non-judgmental fashion. Others can feel our intention to alleviate their suffering.

Compassion can be seen as the emotional equivalent of “the Golden Rule”. As Karen Armstrong from charterforcompassion.org has stated “Always treat others as you’d like to be treated yourself … Don’t do to others what you would not like them to do to you”. Compassion can be viewed as reacting to all others as if they are your self.

What are the benefits of compassion?

First, there are emerging studies that show that compassionate behavior and compassionate meditation are good for our health. In a study published in Psychoneuroendocrinology, it was demonstrated that “individuals who engage in compassion meditation may benefit by reductions in inflammatory and behavioral responses to stress that have been linked to depression and a number of medical illnesses”(link) In another study of 59 women, it was found that those who demonstrated high levels of compassion for others were more receptive to social support, enabling them to better handle acute psychological stress and maintain overall well-being, according to psychologists at the University of Maine, University of California – Berkeley and University of California – San Francisco (link).

Second, compassion can help us influence the interactions that we have with others. When we choose a compassionate response when another person gets upset, we are more likely going to have a neutral or understanding response. By responding in this manner, we are more likely to be able to diffuse a potential conflict. Additionally, when we react to others compassionately, we are more likely to build rapport with that person.

Finally, the more compassionate we are, the more compassion we bring into the world. As Ghandi is often quoted “be the change you want to see in the world.” By being more compassionate, we model how to be compassionate and those who are within our zone of influence are more likely to respond compassionately to us.

The next time someone gets angry with you, resist the temptation to engage in a defensive response. Consider what circumstances brought the other person to get angry. Imagine how you would feel in a similar situation. Then focus on the intention of elevating the other person’s suffering. Your compassionate response is not only good for your own health, but it has the opportunity to strengthen your interpersonal relationships and help facilitate a more compassionate world.

Please share your comments on this topic! I am grateful for any insight you may have.

February 6, 2012

Love is the answer, no really it is… and giving helps too.

“The love that we give away is the only love we keep” – Elbert Hubbard

Yes, I know that the title of this blog may sound trite, cliché or overused, especially to a recovering cynic (like myself) or if you are a die-hard pragmatist.

But it is true.

If you want more health and happiness in your life, you need love.

Think about it.

You cannot be happy without love. You cannot be completely healthy unless you are happy.

I believe most of us know what it is liked to beloved by another person. It is awesome! We feel safe, warm, appreciated and confident. In literature, song lyrics and popular culture, there is strong evidence that humans want to be loved.

I feel that the ironic twist of the fascination with being loved is that it misses the true origin of love. Love is a creative force. Love is giving unconditionally to others. Love is striving to create a better life for the people that we love. Love is the desire for others to have a sense of wellbeing and contentment.

“When I chased after money, I never had enough. When I got my life on purpose and focused on giving of myself and everything that arrived into my life, then I was prosperous.” Wayne Dyer

The giving of love is an education in itself.Eleanor Roosevelt

If you have any doubt on the importance of love and giving, just think about times that you have striving to receive something (time, attention, affection, acknowledgement, etc.) from another person. In these times, you may be dependent on that other person for your feelings of wellbeing. You may feel impatient or slightly dissatisfied. You have thoughts to the effect of “if only they….”

On the other hand, if you focus is what you can give to another person, your focus is on the other person and your aspiration that they feel loved or supported. From you loving actions, you may feel loving, kind or generous.

As an adult, my concrete example of this is the Christmas gift exchanged. I am always appreciative of the generosity that I receive from others, but I experience more joy when my children open their presents and jump up and down with joy.

Control: We can only control how loving we are. We cannot control if others love us or not. In fact, the more that we try to make others love us, the more resistant they may be to our intentions.

 

Influence:  The more loving you are, the greater positive influence you will have on others around you. If you don’t believe me, try going to the supermarket with a positive loving attitude and say hello and thank you often. I am almost sure that you will make at least one person smile. As Ghandi said “Be the change that you want to see in the world”, he challenged us all to “bring it”. If you want a more loving world, bring more love to the world.

 

The Pragmatist Explanation:  Love is just cause and effect. Love is a creative force that gives. When you give you create value for others. When you create value for others, there is a greater chance that someone would want to give back to you.

 

The New Age Explanation:  When you are loving, you vibrate at a higher frequency and the universe aligns to that higher frequency.

Whichever explanation to the importance to love that you want to choose, so be it.

If you are an incurable pessimist, I can report that I did my best to get the word out.