Last Saturday I went for a bit of Soul Hiking up in the northwestern part of the island (see here). I didn't take much with me...just my…
You are in an imaginary hot air balloon. It’s just you and all of your belongings in the wicker basket. Something went wrong and you are losing altitude fast. You will hit the ground in less than ten minutes if you don’t come up with something quick.
The only immediate solution is to get rid of excess weight and throw off at least half of your belongings. It’s that or hit the ground in ten. You look at the things and hesitate for a few seconds but then you do what you have to do and start throwing the things you have gathered half your life one by one. The cargo gets lighter, the descent slows down then you are floating up again back to altitude. You are relieved beyond comprehension.
This happens to all of us in less dramatic circumstances. We attach ourselves to things that we have accumulated over the years. Some of them might have some practical value. Others we just have attached ourselves sentimentally to over time. Some others are just clutter.
Our mental life follows the same fate. We carry with us a lot of things in our heads along the years – Our life story, emotional attachments, beliefs and other things which can linger in our minds for many years.
Some of them are useless ideas that drag us down considerably. Some are emotional debris from difficult moments in our past. Some are just beliefs which we have attached ourselves to for no apparent justifiable reason. Some others are just self-destructive habits and fears.
So if you were in the hot air balloon situation, which of these mental barriers should we let go? I have listed down 20 here. Do you have any more? (more…)
In the article, Kaushik, the author of the blog and the post in question, was asking how it is that sometimes after some experience of deep inner awareness that awakens us from our limited patterns of thinking, we return back to our same old selves?
To quote Kaushik’s own opening lines:
“A strange thing about awakening is frequently we feel we are very conscious, but then life throws something at us and we react in the same conditioned way we always did. It’s a humbling experience, and that’s the point of it.”
How is it that after some brief moment of enlightenment we relapse back to the same old habits and limited views?
This naturally leads to other questions such as “is enlightenment or spiritual awakening ephemeral”? Is it some short excursion beyond our boundaries just to give us a taste of what it’s like to be in a higher state of consciousness?
Your brain is the most precious and advanced thing you’ll ever own. Unfortunately it does not come with an owner’s manual. Nobody has one and it is nowhere to be found or purchased.
Still, even if we don’t have a technical manual explaining in detail how it works and how to maintain it in optimal condition, there are still ways to access it and reprogram it.
I am using computer-related metaphors here not because I am upholding the mind-computer analogy. That is so 70s and 80s. Yet the metaphor rather serves to remind us that most of our beliefs, ideas, attitudes, perspectives and reasoning have been conditioned or programmed by our immediate experiences, society and circumstances. A good part of this programming might have taken place without an intention or design and some of it might be of no benefit for us but on the contrary limiting and hindering us from authentically growing.
Meditation is and has always been the best available method for reprogramming the human mind. It has been proven to work for thousands of years. Moreover it is free, always available, requires no resources and is highly effective.
The benefits are numerous and varied ranging from reducing stress, improving health, memory and concentration to enhancing creativity, curing depression and expanding one’s consciousness into higher states of being.
It always really boggles my mind how in our day and age meditation is not that wildly diffused in the western world and around the globe. It strikes me as so out of sync with our times that meditation is not universally recognized by humans as one of the most fundamental practices for a healthy society. Imagine every single individual on this planet learning meditation at school from a young age. Imagine the benefit on a planetary scale. How there would be balanced emotions, harmony, creativity and peace on a collective level. No more wars, atrocities, greed, famine, crime, domestic violence, over-spending in health, law and order. The possibilities are infinite.
Anyway let me stop here before I get too idealistic. I just wanted to express my personal opinion on how important meditation is. If you wish to start learning meditation or if you have already you might find the following resources useful. I have sifted through tonnes of material to select what I think is technically good quality material.
I hope you find them interesting and helpful. Please send me your thoughts and comments on whether you found the material useful or if you want to suggest more. Thanks!
The notion of practicing compassion for other fellow humans has been with us since the beginning of time. After all, Man is a social creature in need of meaningful social connections in order to grow on all levels of his being.
The concept of compassion however has in recent times been appraised in value. Its importance is starting to be understood under the new light of a drastically changing world where people are getting more connected, economies collapse and new global crisis emerge. Compassion is becoming increasingly tied to the future of humanity. In order for Humanity to keep the balance against the impounding waves of change we need to grow collectively in mind, awareness and in consciousness. One essential ingredient for this growth is cultivating compassion and loving kindness
Compassion compels action and social change
“You know, there’s a lot of talk in this country about the federal deficit. But I think we should talk more about our empathy deficit — the ability to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes; to see the world through the eyes of those who are different from us — the child who’s hungry, the steelworker who’s been laid-off, the family who lost the entire life they built together when the storm came to town. When you think like this — when you choose to broaden your ambit of concern and empathize with the plight of others, whether they are close friends or distant strangers — it becomes harder not to act; harder not to help.” Barack Obama
I think one of the most fundamental questions we come to ask in our lives is “what is the purpose of my life?” which can be transcribed into “How meaningful is the life I am living at the moment?” This is a personalization of the more general and philosophical question “What is the meaning of life and everything?”
These questions often arise when we are going through major life transitions or y-points in our lives where crucial decisions and drastic changes have to be made. When we go through big changes our reality bends and shifts because we are breaking away from our old worldview and leaping into a new one. Big changes and moments of temporary crisis often bring with them deep questions about the meaning of life and our role and identity with the changing world around us.
It is not easy to answer such questions for the simple reasons that the answer to such questions lie exclusively within us and not outside of us. Things and situations in our lives have meaning because we attribute meaning to them. They do not have meaning by themselves but depend on our perspective, reality and system of beliefs. The same thing may have deep meaning for me but can be meaningless to you or it may have different meaning to one person at different times in her life depending on her experiences, motivations, beliefs and perspectives.
But how can we give more meaning to our lives? I’m sure we all asked ourselves this question at one point whether explicitly or otherwise.
Happiness and self-realization depend on how much our lives are enriched with meaning and purpose. A meaningless existence is certainly not a wholesome and happy one.
Unfolding the bigger picture
Very often meaning is equated with knowing our true purpose, our mission and goals in life. This is true at some level. By knowing and embracing our role in the big picture of life, we find a lot of what we experience as more meaningful.
Our purpose however is not always clear to us at all times because it is sometimes cluttered and hindered by negative emotions, misconceptions and wrong sorts of habits and beliefs.
Here are a few approaches that help us deepen and enrich our connections with ourselves and with others, align ourselves with our inner purpose and open our hearts for the joys of living a meaningful and happy life: (more…)
Positive Self-talk and Affirmations are pretty much the same thing with the very subtle difference that affirmations are more often verbal or written while Self-talk is more often played out in our heads.
I got to know about the idea of Self-talk quite recently through a book by Theodore Bryant called “Self-Discipline in 10 Days”. It is one of those ideas that if I had read it out of context or didn’t read long enough about its underlying psychological implications, I would have probably discarded it as pure hogwash in no time at all.
I must admit that this had happened to me with the concept of affirmations long time before. I had always reserved quite some doubt to the idea. The thought that affirming something aloud could change things used to sound as an over-optimistic ‘I can achieve anything’ attitude slightly bordering on the delusional.
All of that changed with an insight or two in the Human potential and through some personal experiences of my own. My views have totally changed and I came to see affirmations and positive Self-talk as two essential mind tools that can help us to consciously design our life and direct our future. (more…)
What if you know that 8 minutes a day or even less can change your life drastically for the better? What if you know that in less time that you buy and drink a latte you can practice yourself into a life of better mental performance, more serenity & happiness and more control over your life?
I know it sounds like a cheesy sales page of some ‘get empowered and conquer the universe in 7 days’ self-help program. I myself am totally unimpressed and disapproving of certain ‘quick simple techniques’ to master this or achieve that. However it’s not ‘techniques’ I am talking about here but practices or ‘good habits’ as simple and short as brushing your teeth or clipping your toe nails. The difference is that they are not that brain-numbingly mundane and of course they are ‘life-changing practices’ as against mere ‘grooming practices’.
Can 2 minute long practices change a person’s life drastically? Well the short answer to that is definitely “Yes”. The longer answer is that these practices are accessible and user-friendly tools that routinely program the mind to develop new positive habits which then become engrained over a time period and before you know it a big inner change has happened!
A lot of people decide to go on a diet from time to time but do not always find the right diet plan. Perhaps they want to follow a healthier lifestyle, gain more energy or lose that unwanted body fat or extra pound but get confused about which particular diet to pick because they either have insufficient information or are just overloaded with it.
This might happen to you or me. Perhaps you might become a little bit unconvinced or partly unwilling to subject yourself to any form of restriction or modification to your lifestyle. You might become subconsciously reluctant to give it a try or feel unsure on the amount of benefits versus the drawbacks that come with it.
This is the whole issue of why people don’t find the will to start or keep a diet or any lifestyle change for that matter. It’s because we subconsciously talk ourselves out of it most often based on the negative premise “I can’t do it”, “I know I don’t have the will or stamina so why try?” or “ I don’t know if it will work or what the benefits are so why go for this torture?”.