Are we in control of our lives or are we not?

Well, for many years I believed that I was not in control of my life, I just felt lucky when things were working as I wished, and then I felt like a victim when things went wrong… all in all I felt pretty powerless about most of it.

But things have changed for me, completely changed I would say, as I have slowly realized that I can live my life “by design” as opposed to just “by default,” but to be honest with you, this truth took a long time to take hold, and a lot of inner work on my part… as many good things do 🙂

So, Are we in control of our lives or aren’t we?

Here is the thing: we will never be able to control most of what surrounds us: the weather, the traffic, the constant changes, and mostly: the people around us. But we are always in control of our actions and our reactions to those variables, so in a way, we are in control of our lives.

If we see ourselves as victims of our surroundings then we will never feel we have control, but if we switch our perspective and realize that the way we decide to act or respond to everything that surrounds us will determine our true experience, then we will feel truly empowered and in control.

Is what happens to us a product of simple fate or is it something we bring onto ourselves (consciously or not? )

How much of our experience is self-made and how much is just imposed into our human condition?

I truly believe that what happens to us, to a great extent, is the result of our own making, whether we like it or not, I know most people cringe when they hear this, and so did I for most of my life, but I have come to realize one major thing:

We are often totally unaware of how we bring things into our lives, so we cannot possibly take responsibility for it, until, we become aware of our internal patterns, deep seated beliefs and subconscious workings. And gaining that kind of awareness is no small feat!  Sadly, a lot of people never do.

On the other hand, yes, there is a part that we can call fate, and this is because we do not live alone nor isolated, we live in a big wide world with millions of other people and living creatures as well as natural forces, and because of this, we do depend on all of them, to a certain degree as well.

However, the more aware we are, the more in control we can be, simply because we realize our own part of responsibility and we can begin to take control of what we can indeed change, and for the remaining of it, what we would call “fate”  we can also be in control, in the sense that our reaction to what happens is definitely under our control.

There is a lovely “Serenity Prayer” that my parents had on a wall at home for years, and it has always been in my mind… here it is:

Serenity Prayer This little prayer illustrates what I am trying to convey in this post.

Yes, there are things that I cannot change, but the way I look at them will change my experience (accepting as opposed to resisting.)

And there are things I can definitely change (they are under my control,) in fact, a lot more things than I think.

However, I need to be wise enough (aware enough,) to tell the difference, which means: I need to do my work of introspection and self-discovery in order to gain that awareness/wisdom.

So, in my newly acquired view, we are pretty much in control of our lives, but this is a “control” in which our ego does not play an important part, it is not about getting things “my way” but rather it is about merging in with the flow of life, learning to dance with it, and co-create our experience through this dance. 

Have a lovely week!

How to Communicate Hard Feelings Effectively

Our choice of words matter, and when it comes to close relationships, like our partners, our children, our parents, etc. it really truly matters a LOT!

communication

Today I would like to focus on the way we sometimes express our frustration, anger or disappointment to a loved one. First of all, it is totally normal to feel frustrated, angry or disappointed with the people we love, however, the way we express those feelings can be detrimental to our relationships or,  it can be constructive…

After many years of therapy, self-reflection, and serious work on becoming more conscious and mindful, I have found that there are ways to make our communication positively impact our relationships, but it takes some practice and awareness, for sure!

But, first things first, when we are hurt or angry, it is hard so see clearly and act mindfully, so the first thing to do is to take a little distance from our feelings and become more objective and more conscious.
Now, how exactly do we do that…. well, unless you have a well-established mindfulness or meditation practice, this doesn’t come very naturally for most people, so it is important to have some tools that can help us take that distance from our emotions (sometimes on the spot! before we jump at our loved ones with all our complaints and rage!)

I work with kids, and as a mom as well as a yoga teacher, I have found some techniques that are very helpful to calm down negative emotions, here are some tools that any adult can use and/or share with children in their lives:

1. Take 3 deep breaths before you react to whatever is making you angry
2. Go outside and take a brisk walk, run or kick a ball
3. Punch a pillow
4. Listen to music that you like or sing a song
5. Close your eyes and think of a calm place or pleasant thought or something funny
6. Draw a picture
7. Write down your feelings, or a letter to the person you are mad at (you don’t need to send it)
8. Talk to someone about your feelings (not the person you are mad at!)
9. Ask for a hug, make sure it lasts a few breaths! (Again, not to the person you are mad at!)

The first one is the fastest and most accessible one, for adults and children alike. As simple as it may seem, taking deep breaths is incredibly powerful, simply because when we breathe slowly we are counter-acting the “fight or flight” response that kicks in automatically when we feel threatened (in this case angry,) the brain gets the message to slow down and lower its guards, so we can see the situation for what it is and not for what our blurry vision – affected by our feelings – will make us see.

There is a difference between the reality and what you see as “the reality,” when emotions are involved. Knowing this, and accepting it, is the first step to becoming more conscious.

So, let’s say that you can efficiently distance yourself from the emotion (whether it is anger, frustration, sadness, etc.) so you are able to calm down on the spot, which doesn’t mean you don’t feel the emotion anymore, it simply means you are able to acknowledge it for what it is and take responsibility for it. This doesn’t mean you just ignore what the other person did or said, or the fact that you feel angry, but it is important to take responsibility for your feelings!

Nobody has the power to MAKE YOU feel this way or that, YOU are the only one with that power, in other words, what you feel is your responsibility alone, which in turn, does not mean that the other person has NO responsibility in the matter, they are responsible for their actions just as much as you are for your reactions… do you follow?

So, it is crucial that if you want the relationship to stay healthy and grow, you need to handle communication effectively. So now we come down to the choice of words.

See, once we have taken responsibility for our feelings, we don’t need to blame the other person, but we can, and should, point out the facts, and express our feelings in a way that does not trigger the other person’s defensiveness or other negative feelings.

If we communicate in a healthy way, it will be clear enough for the other person how we are feeling, and they will have the opportunity to take responsibility for their part, without becoming defensive.

Here is a simple everyday situation as an example of how communication can go wrong, or right depending on the words we use:

Case Study:

Husband and Wife are getting ready to leave the house for an invitation and they are running late, they only have one key to their car and they can’t find it! (The last person who drove the car was the husband). The wife is starting to feel angry at a familiar scenario, and she hates to be late!

Scenario #1:

Wife: “You have lost the key again! You always do this, why don’t you leave it in the key holder by the door, it isn’t hard, that is why there is a key holder there!!! Now we are going to be late!” (in an annoyed tone)

Notice the direct accusation and blaming: YOU have lost the key, YOU always do it!

Husband: “Stop blaming me! you are the one who was taking for ever to get ready, if you could skip your hour long sessions of hair brushing we could be ready much earlier and then deal with this with less stress, plus I told you ages ago to make another copy of the key!” (in an angry tone)

Notice how the husband, feeling accused and blamed, goes immediately into “defensive mode” and tries to retaliate by taking his turn on accusing his wife of the first thing he can think of.

So, in this scenario the angry and negative feelings keep escalating, and there is a full blown fight, which is not about the lost key anymore but about the couple’s feelings overtaking them and completely shutting off communication.

Scenario #2:

Wife: “You have lost the key again! You always do this, why don’t you leave it in the key holder by the door, it isn’t hard, that is why there is a key holder there!!! Now we are going to be late!” -Same as scenario #1

The husband feels accused, but takes a few deep breaths and realizes that his wife is really worried because she hates to be late and it is her frustration talking at him, he also realizes that she may have a point about him being a bit disorganized, in fact he was already feeling a bit guilty for the loss of the key… so here is his response:

Husband: “Honey, I understand you are mad because you hate to be late, and I am sorry we cannot find the key, you are right, I often put it in different places which makes it harder to find it, I apologize but let’s try to find it together and make a note to make a copy so we have a backup key in the future, and I will be more careful to leave it in the key holder”

To this, the wife’s anger immediately deflates and she replies:

“I am sorry honey, I didn’t mean to blame you, we don’t really know what happened, it is just that I really dislike being late, but never mind, we just have to keep looking and yes, we need to make a copy, sorry I have not gotten to do that as I offered. Let’s keep looking and hopefully will find it soon. I will call our friends to tell them we will be late.”

Scenario #3:

The wife is feeling really annoyed at her husband, but before she says anything, she takes a deep breath and notices that he is frantically looking for the key and probably feeling bad already about not finding it, so she says:

“Honey, I feel really frustrated because we are going to be late, I know these things can happen, but it is a good idea to leave the key always in the key holder to avoid this happening in the future” (In a loving tone, not an accusatory one!)

Husband “I know, I am sorry, I will find it and will be more careful in the future to leave it in the holder when I use it, why don’t you call our friends to tell them we will be a bit late and let’s make a note to make a key copy as soon as possible”

In scenarios number 2 and 3 one of the partners averted a fight by being mindful, but at the same time expressing their feelings and the facts in a very effective manner.

You can see how the example above can be applied in many other cases and with different relationships. The specific situation or facts don’t matter as much as the way we react to them, and how we choose to communicate.

So, here is how we can avert fights and grow our relationships:

1. Taking a step back, before our feelings take over our actions and reactions

2. Choosing the right words to express ourselves, here are some ideas:

State the FACTS instead of accusing the other:
We will be late, as we can’t find the key (fact) vs
We will be late because YOU lost the key (accusation)

Take RESPONSIBILITY for your feelings instead of blaming them on others
I feel frustrated when we are late, it makes me feel embarrassed (taking responsibility for one’s feelings) vs
You make me look bad, because of you we will be late, and it is embarrassing! (blaming the other for our feelings)

DON’T ASSUME the other person is guilty, even if it seems obvious!
I wonder where the keys can be. Do you remember what happened after you parked the car last night? (Unassuming) vs
You lost the key again! (Assuming the person is guilty)

If you take these simple steps and practice them over and over, I assure you that your relationships will grow stronger and healthier and that you will feel a lot better with yourself and others!

Thanks for reading!

Meditation Explained!

Last week, I attended a talk about TM (Transcendental Meditation) and it reminded me that my last post about meditation was almost 3 years ago! So, I decided to write about this incredible resource today again, and go a little deeper in the explanation of how it works, and how it can help YOU.

brainwaves

I started my journey into meditation about 10 or 11 years ago, it was a slow process for me, and it took many shapes and stages, but along this journey I learned so much about what meditation really is, and it has without any doubt positively shaped the person I am now, and it continues to do so everyday!

I feel, without any doubt, that it is the most powerful tool we can use to live a happier, healthier and easier life. In my experience, meditation is the one practice that will change the world, one person at a time, and I can guarantee you that if you talk to anybody that practices meditation regularly, they will agree with this.

Describing meditation is not a very easy endeavor, as it is one of those things that, in order to be fully understood, it needs to be experienced first hand… but I will try my best to explain it.

Basically, our brain vibrates at different frequencies, a frequency is the rate at which a vibration occurs that constitutes a wave, either in a material (as in sound waves), or in an electromagnetic field (as in radio waves and light), usually measured per second. The states of our mind and brain are very different depending on which frequency they are vibrating at.

If you look at the picture above, there are currently 4 brain frequencies detected by an EEG (although now they are talking about a 5th one called Gamma, but for now we will just focus on the 4 pictured above.)

  • Beta: you are awake, consciously alert, active, fully awake, going about your day.
  • Alpha: you are awake and aware but in a state of physical and mental relaxation.
  • Theta: you are in a state of somnolence with reduced consciousness.
  • Delta: you are unconscious, in deep sleep.

So, basically, meditation is the capacity to go deeper and deeper into these frequencies, by maintaining awareness, it is the capacity to lower the activity in our brains to the point that our mind is thought-free (or almost), and therefore we can create a space of total stillness and clarity within, a space in which we are still awake and aware (as opposed to falling asleep or deeply asleep.)

There are of course different levels of meditation, the more you practice, the deeper your meditation can be. There are also many techniques used for meditation, but the goal is always the same: to quiet your mind and become the “observer” of your mind. You can learn more about all the different techniques by looking at the related articles and books listed below.

Amongst many spiritual traditions it is believed that this space of stillness is where we meet the divine, where we understand who we are, and where the source of all beings becomes one. It is the space also where we can connect to our intuition, our inner knowing, etc.

However, for those who are turned off by all the spiritual lingo, it is important to remember that you can practice meditation and get all the benefits from it, without attaching any spiritual meaning to it.

How can meditation help YOU?

Well, nowadays people all over the world are suffering from a constant state of stress no matter how subtle it is, we are slaves of what Eckart Tolle calls: Psychological Time, our minds are very busy all the time dwelling on past events or speculating about future outcomes, but very seldom focused completely, a 100% in the moment, therefore, our mind chatter is constantly interfering with our reality and this creates inevitable stress.

When we are stressed out (by our own thoughts) our bodies are in a constant state of fight or flight* and therefore our brain is not working at its optimum capacity, and we are more likely to make the wrong choices and react to events in less than desirable ways, let alone the consequences that linger in our bodies (tension, high blood pressure, etc).

Meditation, by the virtue of slowly but surely training our minds to quiet down, will help us regain control over our brain and our body, and be in a state of constant calmness and clarity, as opposed to a state of stress and hurry.

Committing yourself to the practice of meditation will likely be the most important decision you make in your life!

Don’t think that you need to spend thousands of dollars or travel to Asia in order to learn how to meditate, there are wonderful resources that can help you learn without spending your life’s savings. But ultimately it all comes down to how committed you are to improving your life for real.

The 21-Day Meditation Challenge is one of those great online free resources to get you started, and it is going on RIGHT NOW, so you are still on time to join, I highly encourage you to do it, even if it is just out of curiosity, it won’t take more than 20 minutes of your day and it will give you a taste of what meditation is. Register Now

If you live in the DC area, drop me a note and I will be happy to send you a list of the local resources in this area, but wherever you live, I am sure you can find organizations, groups or institutions that offer free classes and workshops on meditation.

Have a Great Week!

*fight or flight and modern stress response explained here

Related Articles Great Books
Meditation, an Incredible Tool (How I discovered meditation) 10% Happier by Dan Harris
A true story and a great approach for the skeptic
8 Basic Kinds of Meditation Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation by Sharon Salzberg A great introductory book with a program and a bonus CD
The Chopra Center Meditation Resources How to Meditate by Pema Chödrön
A wonderful beginners guide by a seasoned Buddhist Nun
What are Brainwaves Meditation for Beginners by Jack Kornfield A great beginners book

Announcements

    • 21-Day Meditation Challenge with Deepak and Oprah started 11/03/14 Register NOW you are still on time to join!
    • The Divine Ordinariness of St. Teresa of Avila, Free online Teleseminar starts 11/08/14 Register NOW

No more problems please!

Have you ever wondered about how you deal with problems? those kind of problems you actually would prefer not to deal with? the problems you may not even see because you prefer not to? I recently read something that inspired today’s post: When you ignore a problem, it doesn’t go away, it just gets bigger and bigger

problems
Image: piotr marcinski/Shutterstock.com

Most of the problems or conflicts we have, arise from the way we relate to the world around us, especially other human beings or situations we find ourselves in. When a problem or conflict that creates emotional discomfort arises, we sometimes choose to ignore it, we’d rather not face it because we may not have a clue how to fix it, or it may be so big and scary that it is overwhelming just to think about it, so we don’t!, we shut it off, we ignore it and we try to occupy our minds in something else and pretend it is not there. We often do this unconsciously, we may not even be aware that we are shutting it off, or we may even convince ourselves that there is NO problem at all, that we are fine!

It is fascinating how our mind works, in its constant effort to avoid pain it will divert us from what is really going on. However, by ignoring a problem we are allowing it to grow bigger and bigger, and one day, inevitably it will blow up on our face, and by then, the damage might be unrecoverable… This is particularly true when it comes to relationships, we often allow the conflicts and the discomfort to become the norm, and we live with them instead of solving them, until one day something breaks (whether it is our health, the relationship, or both) and there is not much we can do to fix it at that point.

But, since we may be ignoring our problems without really being aware that we are doing it, how on earth can we get around this…?

The good news is that while our minds can totally trick us, our bodies cannot, our bodily sensations are a very good gauge to measure the state of our life. That is why it is so incredibly important to be in touch with our bodies, with our physical sensations and discomforts, and with our overall state of health.

Most of us have experienced what we call butterflies in our tummy when we are excited or nervous, or that knot in our throat when we are sad or speechless, or the tension in our shoulders or tummy when we are angry; our bodies are always reacting to the way we feel, no matter how hard we try to control it. Our bodies always tell us the truth, so we must listen…

The sensations in our bodies do not abide by the rules and filters that our mind dictates and chooses. Our bodies are plain and simple sensors of life… our organs do not “analyze” nor “judge” everything, they just function well or not so well, depending on what is going on around us, and especially inside our minds.

If you feel emotional discomfort, the first step is to make peace with the feeling, by that I mean, don’t be hard on yourself for feeling the way you do, you have a right to feel sad, angry, frustrated, guilty etc. no matter what the situation is. Acknowledge the feeling, let it be there (which is different than feeding it by being overly negative or taking a victim role) just be aware of it and try to understand why it is there?, when do you feel it? is this only an emotional feeling (sadness, anger, frustration, etc.) or it is accompanied by a bodily sensation (pain, discomfort, tension, etc.)?, allow it to be there, do not escape the feeling, but do not cling to it either, just witness it and try to notice when it came about (did something happen that triggered it? has it happened before? what were you doing when it happened or right before? what were you thinking about when it happened or before…?)

There are many fascinating stories about how our body speaks to us, here below I wanted to share a few that I have read about:

A little boy that felt totally neglected by his parents, who were too busy to spend quality time with him, became sick, and his parents were forced to be by his side and take care of him, sickness became his way of calling for attention, and he went on to become a sickly adult. It wasn’t until later in life and many illnesses, that he understood (through therapy) this dysfunctional pattern, and little by little he recovered his health.

Or the woman who never felt listened to by her husband (something neither of them had acknowledged nor realized) until one day she lost her voice, with no explanation, she could not speak for almost a year. Luckily, through therapy, she understood what had caused her voice to shut off, and she slowly recovered her voice.

Another woman in a seemingly stable and long lasting relationship, had lost all interest in intimacy, sex became painful and she started having hormonal and fertility problems, she was told she would never be able to conceive. Years later, she was confronted by the fact that she had never felt loved, appreciated nor desired by her partner of many years, and her sexuality and reproductive organs started shutting off as a consequence. She later went on to enjoy great health, enjoy intimacy and even had a child (with a different partner.)

Just remember that the problems you may be facing, especially in regards to relationships in your life, may not be totally clear to you nor obvious, but the physical sensations along with the emotional discomfort are a great way to delve a little more into what is going on and hopefully get to the bottom of it before it becomes a really big problem.

Do not ignore problems, face them, allow them to be, accept them, make peace with them, as that is the only way to start solving them. It is important to take an active role in solving our problems as opposed to ignoring them and numbing ourselves. So start by listening to your body a little more and to your mind a little less…

Have a great week!


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Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are

I was just watching Amy Cuddy’s TED talk: Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are and it got me thinking about this very important way of communicating.

bodylanguage

I have always been interested in the way people relate and communicate with others, and I always knew that body language plays a very important role in that communication, more so than we care to admit. However, I never knew that our body language could actually have an impact on the way we, ourselves feel.

Aside from our verbal exchanges, we are constantly sending out a lot of signals that can be silent or not, and involve body movements, gestures, facial expressions, voice tone, loudness, etc. they convey a lot of information about the way we feel and the way we think.

Noticing the signals that people send out with their body language is a very useful social skill. Some people can read it naturally while others may be oblivious of it. Very often the difference between the words people speak and our understanding of what they are saying comes from non-verbal communication.

Aside from being aware of other people’s body language, it is very important to be aware of our own, since our body language can help us feel a certain way or achieve a certain goal. According to Amy Cuddy, we can purposely use body language to convey feelings that we are not experiencing, but we can also start to actually feel them, as she says in the video: fake it until you make it, or rather fake it until you feel it!

For instance, if you are about to be in a situation where you do not feel very confident, such as a job interview, an important meeting, giving a speech, etc. you can adopt gestures of confidence so as to convey confidence and by doing so, you may actually start to feel more confident.

You can spot a person’s level of confidence by looking at the following:

Posture – standing tall with shoulders back.

Eye contact – solid with a ‘smiling’ face.

Gestures with hands and arms – purposeful and deliberate.

Speech – slow and clear.

Tone of voice – moderate to low.

So, by adopting those gestures and tones, you may eventually start to feel more confident, also, the more people see you as “confident” the more you will feel indeed confident, so it is like a snow ball effect, it keeps growing in you.

This principle reminded me of something my therapist told me years ago when I was depressed, I had told her that I didn’t feel any motivation to do the things I used to like, so I didn’t do them any more. She then told me that things could work both ways, so she encouraged me to actually do the things, despite my lack of motivation, and she told me that the motivation would come after I did them, to my surprised, it worked!

I guess we often feel we need to feel a certain way to act a certain way, but we can act first and feel later… I never really liked the expression: “Fake it until you make it” because it seemed to reflect dishonesty in my view, but I really like Cuddy’s version: “Fake it until you feel it” because it definitely works!

So, next time you have an important meeting, a stressful reunion, a speech to give, etc. remember to “act” confident, using your whole body, and in time you will feel that confidence more and more!

If you want to read more about body language, below is a list of good resources.

Have a Good Week!

Related Resources:

Improving your non-verbal skills and reading body language

The key to understanding body language

How to become a master at non-verbal communication


Announcements

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Taking Responsibility for our Mental Health

Most people, at some point or another, become aware that their actions play a very important part in their physical health, we know for instance that in order to keep our body in good health we need to eat healthy foods, we also know that our body needs exercise to be in good shape, and we know that self destructing habits like smoking and drinking (let alone drugs) are detrimental to our body.

man holding head

However, there is very little awareness out there about how to take care of our mental health, and this is just as important as our physical health if not more! Most people may think that unless they have been diagnosed with some sort of mental illness, they don’t need to pay special attention to their mental health. This is not true at all!

Being mentally healthy doesn’t simply mean been “sane” it is much broader than that, it means enjoying an overall state of well being. Our mind is, to a great extent, responsible for our overall well being. The fact that the majority of people are able to function well in society, does not mean they are in perfect mental health, the truth is, we all have some areas in our psyche that could use improvement.

It wasn’t until recently that this awareness became more widespread and that people started to look inwards, trying to understand the workings of their mind and even seeking help if needed, without it being taboo or shameful, but there is still a long way to go.

Aside from serious mental disorders, that are rare and more complex, there are many personality or behavior disorders that are quite common and affect people’s lives in many ways. If we struggle with relationships, with our eating, with the way we see our bodies, with stress, with insecurities, with addictions, etc. chances are, there is room for improvement. The way our psyche works determines the way we relate to other people, the way we relate to food, the way we perform our work, the way we treat our body, in other words: our psyche determines the way we live, and the quality of our life.

Just as we clean our bodies, brush our teeth and comb our hair, we need to work on our mental cleanup. Most people don’t openly talk about their mental / emotional challenges, but there is an alarming increase in the number of people that take medication for depression, anxiety, ADD, etc. and then there are the many more that are not treated but still suffer from the consequences of mood disorders, lingering sadness, loss of purpose, constant anger, etc.

Although in some cases it is important to use medication, especially in the more severe cases of mental illnesses, in the milder, most common cases of personality disorders or mental/emotional challenges, medication is rarely needed, however, there is a real need for personal commitment to healing, and the problem is, most people don’t even know they have a problem, or if the do, they deny it or they think it will go away on its own, or they try to “numb” it by using escaping mechanisms (like alcohol, smoking, drugs, etc.) which is a problem in and of itself.

When I was 20 I suffered from my first depression, although at the time I had no idea what was happening, I just felt really sad and was loosing interest for the things that used to excite me. I was clinically depressed but totally unaware of it. After a year or so, I moved to a different country and the change in my environment lessened the symptoms of my depression, until I relapsed a couple years later, then I was diagnosed and treated with medication and psychotherapy. The medication did help, but I did not like the idea of being medicated and I was still struggling deeply with the diagnosis, I was not in denial any more but I was ashamed and shocked by it.

A few years later I relapsed, yet again…I had to accept that it was happening to me again, and I sought treatment (this time I refused medication and worked with therapy alone). Once I felt better I was determined to take action and do whatever I needed to NEVER relapse again. Even though there is a history of depression in my family, I chose to believe that I was not “doomed” to be in and out of depression and medication all my life, but I had an active role to play in my recovery, and ever since that moment, I have been actively working on staying healthy, and in spite of great challenges in my personal life, I am proud to report that I have not relapsed, my last episode was 10 years ago!!! This is a real victory for me.

I know every case is different, but I also know that we can all play an active part in the prevention and recovery of our mental and emotional challenges. I have come to personally know so many people around me that suffer from debilitating insecurities, obsessive compulsive behavior, eating disorders, self destructing habits (alcohol, smoking, other addictions), social anxiety, constant worrying, chronic depression (which often goes undiagnosed), etc. That I realized that I was far from being alone, and that mental health is all about mental well being. In my particular case I was lucky because three very important things happened for me:

  1. I realized I had a problem
  2. I accepted the fact that I had a problem, and
  3. I decided to take an active role on my recovery and further prevention

Most people simply don’t realize they have a problem, and if they do, they do not accept it, and if they accept it they do not believe they can play an active part in their healing. We all have a responsibility for our health, we are not just victims of fate, and we all have the capacity to heal ourselves, but first we need to believe we can.

Until we realize our responsibility towards our mental health, there is little we can do to improve those areas in which we continuously struggle.

“Nothing will change if nothing changes”

If we don’t do anything to change things, they simply won’t change, and it is our responsibility to make a difference, nobody will live our lives in our place, we are the architects of our own lives. A good way to become aware of the state of your mental health is to start noticing the areas of discomfort in your life and detect any usual patterns in your behavior or your feelings, take the time to look a little closer at your hard set beliefs, your behavior patterns, your emotional reactions, etc. they can all give you valuable clues on the state of your mental health.

Little by little we can become more aware of our minds’ functioning and we can work towards making it work for us instead of against us, it takes commitment, a true commitment to ourselves, to our well being.

If you are interested in further reading on this topic, see below for a list of good resources on the most common challenges that can go undetected and can really hinder our capacity to live a more fulfilling life.

Have a good week!

Resources:


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A New Human Model

This week, I would like to present  my readers with a new concept of our whole human experience, or should I say a more “holistic” way of being and living.

I am reading a fascinating book: The Heart Revolution – Breakthrough for a New World by Annie Marquier, in which she offers a metaphor to help us better understand the interior dynamic of our humanity, she compares the human being with an ensemble made of a chariot, a horse, a driver (that leads the horse), and a master that sits inside the chariot. Symbolically, the chariot represents our physical body, the horse represents our emotions, the driver represents our mind and the master represents our true essence.

carrosse

The physical, mental and emotional elements form what we often call our personality or our “ego.” And the Master represents our true and transcendental essence. So lets look at each of these elements in more detail:

The Physical Body – The Chariot

Following this comparison, the state of our physical body: the chariot, depends on the maintenance given by an intelligent driver, but also depends on the way it is led by the horse. Since the state of our physical body is easily seen and measured, it can give us a clear indication of the degree of command the driver has over the entire vehicle.

The Emotions – The Horse

Interestingly enough, in the term emotion, we have the word “motion”. Our emotions determine our driving power, our strength, our capacity to act. Therefore, our emotions are a large reservoir of energy. It is the horse that has the energy to pull the entire vehicle, it is an essential element for the journey. The question is: how is this energy reservoir being used?

The Mind – The Driver

The driver: the mind, is the one that holds the thinking process and his functions are extremely important as he commands the whole vehicle. For instance, the horse responds to the thinking process of the driver and not to external circumstances, as we had originally believed. Also, the driver is the connection between the master and the ego. Ideally, the functions of the driver should be:

  1. Delivering the external information to the Master
  2. Listening to the instructions of the Master
  3. Successfully leading the horse in the right direction, according to the master’s instructions
  4. Taking intelligent care of the chariot

The Essence – The Master

The names given to this essence are as diverse as the different cultures and languages that exist, it can be called: soul, spirit, higher self, etc. Even thought the materialistic philosophy still, to this day, denies the existence of this essence, long standing traditions, the direct experience of more and more people, as well as recent scientific discoveries, are revealing its undeniable presence. The Master is the undeniable guide and the wisdom of the whole ensemble.

What is the current functioning?

The current functioning of our experience, has often denied or neglected the existence of the master and therefore has unknowingly missed its guidance, in other words: the driver has had to lead the chariot by himself, he has failed to listen to the subtle but vital instructions of the master. Up to recently, the driver had not developed a relationship with the master, in many cases he was not even aware the master was there. So the functioning of the vehicle has been very limited.

The driver does not have and will never have all the knowledge to lead the horse and the chariot in the best possible way, he needs the Master’s wisdom to do a good job. All the challenges, problems and difficulties that surround us at a personal and planetary level come directly from this lack of communication and our limited functioning as a result.

However, for the first time in our history, at least the history we can trace back to, we are closer to attaining the ideal human model, where The Master can recover its influence and authority. If we are able to truly integrate the master into our daily life, we will be approaching a great revolution of the human consciousness which in turn will allow us to create a new world for each one of us and for the humanity as a whole.

If you want to read more and discover how this fascinating human model can work for you, I encourage you to read the book, it is a revelation. But for now, I give you this article as food for thought!

Have a good week!


Announcements

  • The Body Intelligence Summit. A Free Online Event That Unites Scientists, Dancers,
    Health Professionals, and YOU For the First Time EVER on February 10-13, 2014 Register here.
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