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Writing teacher and author of The Story You Need to Tell: Writing to Heal from Trauma, Illness, or Loss Sandra Marinella, MA, MEd, has presented hundreds of workshops to veterans, educators, and cancer patients. In this inspiring conversation about the transformational power of expressive writing, Sandra offers dynamic methods we can use to understand, tell, and edit our personal stories in ways that foster resilience and renewal. She also shares her own experience of using journaling and expressive writing to navigate the dark nights of her soul, including breast cancer, postpartum depression, and more. You can tune in and listen to this great conversation directly on Unity Online Radio, iTunes, Stitcher, Soundcloud, or YouTube, and if you enjoy this podcast series, please feel free to leave a five-star rating and review on iTunes.For more discussion with other listeners and fans after the show, we invite you to join the New World Now podcast community on Facebook.
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I first heard of Dogen when I was 19 or 20 years old. I am 53 now. So I’ve been acquainted with Dogen for most of my life. Dogen was a Japanese Buddhist monk and writer who lived around 800 years ago, from the year 1200 to 1254. He was barely older than I am now when he died. 

When I first heard of Dogen, I assumed I was a latecomer. I figured that the people of Japan had read and studied Dogen’s philosophy for the past 800 years. I assumed that Dogen’s ideas were part of Japan’s national philosophical identity.

Nope. For about 700 years, Dogen’s writings were barely known even in Japan. A few very scholarly monks and historians read and studied his writings. But most people had no idea what he wrote. Oh, they knew he wrote stuff. It’s just that very few people had read any of it. 

However, Dogen also started a temple, and monks from that temple started other temples. After a while, there were a lot of temples associated with Dogen. These temples became very popular and influential. 

Dogen also taught a style of meditation called “just sitting,” or shikantaza in Japanese. 

The “just” in “just sitting” isn’t like the “just” in “just sitting around.” The Chinese character used to represent the word I’m translating as “just” also means “to hit,” like “to hit a nail right at the center of its head.” So when Dogen said “just sitting,” he meant doing nothing else when in sitting meditation except sitting. You weren’t supposed to meditate on anything. You weren’t supposed to try to gain anything through your meditation. You weren’t trying to become calm or centered or mindful. You were supposed to completely devote yourself to the simple act of sitting, completely absorb yourself in doing nothing at all but sitting.

And a lot of people in Japan took his advice and sat for the sake of sitting alone. It wasn’t exactly a popular activity. But enough people did it that we can say that Dogen’s style of practice became an important aspect of Japanese culture.

Still, even though some of them sat, very few people in Japan read what Dogen wrote. And no one outside Japan had any idea he even existed.

In 1633, about 400 years after Dogen died, Japan closed its borders to outsiders. Very few people could come in or out of Japan. The nation deliberately isolated itself from the rest of the world. In 1865, the American Commodore Matthew Perry forced Japan to open itself to international trade. This began what is called the Meiji Restoration. The film The Last Samurai, starring Tom Cruise, takes place at about this time. It’s a fairly accurate movie, but Tom Cruise was not actually there.

Japan suddenly realized it was very much behind the rest of the world. Those Americans had weapons that were way beyond anything most Japanese people had ever seen. They realized that, in this age of colonization, they were incredibly vulnerable to being taken over by a more advanced foreign power. They knew that they needed to modernize fast. 

This also led Japanese people to try to find Japanese things that were as good as similar things in Europe and America, so that they could prove that Japan was worthy to stand with the mighty powers of Europe and the Americas. So they started to look more closely at their own art and literature, as well as at Japanese philosophy and religion. There was a nationwide push to discover the best that Japan had to offer to the outside world.

In 1925 a scholar named Tetsuro Watsuji published a book called Shamon Dogen (The Monk Dogen). In this book, he presented Dogen as one of Japan’s most important philosophers. This led to a widespread rediscovery of Dogen’s work in Japan. For the first time in 700 years, ordinary Japanese people started to read Dogen’s writings. And for the first time ever, they began presenting Dogen to the rest of the world.

What they discovered in Dogen’s writings surprised many people. Here are a couple of examples of interesting ideas from Dogen’s writings. 

Dogen did not believe in miracles, but he did not deny them, either.

Many religions are based on the idea that miracles can sometimes occur. For example, Jesus changed water into wine, walked on water, and was raised from the dead. Christians believe these miracles to be evidence that Jesus was divine. Because Jesus was divine, they say, his words must be true.

You might have heard that Buddha was originally not considered to be a prophet or a god or any kind of divine being. That’s true. But, as Buddha’s legend grew and his teachings were translated into new languages and introduced to new cultures, many Buddhists came to believe that Buddha performed miracles. 

Dogen believed that all things in the universe are subject to the law of cause and effect. So even if something that seems like a miracle occurred, Dogen believed it was the result of some cause. He did not believe in supernatural forces that can make things happen without any cause.

However, when he talked to his students about this, he did not deny the supposed miracles of the Buddha. Instead, he said these were “small-stuff miracles.” The bigger miracle is that there is a universe in which small miracles can occur. The existence of the universe itself is the great miracle. All other miracles are insignificant by comparison.

In my new book, It Came from Beyond Zen!, I try to express what Dogen says about Buddhist miracles by describing Christian miracles the way Dogen talks about Buddhist miracles. I write, “Jesus fed a multitude with two fishes and five loaves of bread, and he raised Lazarus from the dead and was himself raised from the dead three days after his crucifixion. These are indeed great accomplishments. But they are examples of small-stuff miracles, not the big-time miracle. It is only because of the big-time miracle that such small-stuff miracles as the ones Jesus performed exist. Without the big-time miracle, even the most spectacular of small-stuff miracles could not occur. Jesus worked great wonders. But the greater wonder is that there is a world in which Jesus could have been born, that there is a universe in which that world exists, that you and I are alive to hear about his miracles. It is only the big-time miracle of existence itself that allows smaller miracles to occur.”

Dogen believed compassion is intuitive. 

Dogen said that compassionate action is like someone reaching back for a pillow in the night.

It’s a very strange expression. Most of us think of compassion as deliberate: We see a situation. We think about what is the compassionate thing to do about that situation. Then we do that thing.

To Dogen, compassion was not like that. Dogen thought that compassion was spontaneous. We don’t need to think about what to do. We follow our intuition and automatically do what is necessary. 

Dogen also warned us against judging what others do as “not compassionate.” 

Dogen said, “There’s a difference between nighttime as conceived of by a person during the day and the reality of the darkness on an actual night. You should also look into times that aren’t quite day but aren’t quite night, either.” 

“Day” means times when it’s easy to see what the compassionate thing to do is. Like when you see a turtle on its back. The compassionate thing to do is turn it over. Easy. 

“Night” in this case would mean times when you have no idea what the best thing to do is. Sometimes there is no clear-cut, easily identifiable way to be compassionate. 

Then there are times that are neither day nor night. That means times when you might not know which among several options is really the compassionate one. 

When Dogen says “nighttime as conceived by a person during the day,” I believe he’s talking about the kinds of situations when folks think they can see what somebody else ought to have done in a certain situation. 

Sometimes we look at history and we think, “If I was alive at that time, I would have been better than those people!” Or we look at people in faraway countries and think, “If I was over there, I would do better things than those people!”

It’s easy for those of us in the “daylight” of a world at peace (at least our corner of it) to speculate about what those in the dark night of war ought to have done or what we would have done if we were there. But we weren’t there. So we have no idea what we would have done. In fact, our assumption that we know what we’d do in such a situation is the height of ignorance and arrogance. 

It’s totally pointless to claim moral superiority in these kinds of speculative matters. It’s better to listen to what people who were actually in those situations have to say about it. Sometimes you can learn a lot by listening, even if you don’t always believe everything you’re hearing. 

There is a big difference between real night and night as imagined by someone during the day. 

In the end, we are not other people. We can only try to listen to our own intuition in the real situations that we encounter for ourselves. If we meditate every day, we will be able to listen to our own intuition more clearly. Then we can act with genuine compassion. And when we do that, compassionate action is spontaneous like when you reach for a pillow in the night.

# # #

Soto Zen priest Brad Warner is the author of It Came from Beyond Zen! and numerous other books, including Don’t Be a Jerk, Sit Down & Shut Up, and Sex, Sin, and Zen. He is a punk bassist, filmmaker, Japanese-monster-movie marketer, and popular blogger based in Los Angeles. Visit him online at www.hardcorezen.info

Based on the book It Came from Beyond Zen! Copyright © 2017 by Brad Warner. 

Original author: Publicity Admin
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Fermented foods have long been celebrated for their ability to improve gut health and digestion, but did you know that new evidence suggests that their healing properties go even further? In her new book, The Cultured Cook: Delicious Fermented Foods with Probiotics to Knock Out Inflammation, Boost Gut Health, Lose Weight & Extend Your Life, certified herbalist and board-certified doctor of natural medicine Michelle Schoffro Cook highlights not only the deeper benefits of eating fermented foods but the ease with which you can pickle and ferment at home in your own kitchen for very little money. In this excerpt from the book, learn how fermented foods can help alleviate anxiety, as well as ten other benefits that can make your body a happier place to live. Enjoy.

# # #

If I told you that bacteria could alleviate your anxiety, you’d probably think I was joking or uninformed. But if you suffer from anxiety, particularly social anxiety, you’ll be happy to learn about the exciting study conducted by researchers at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. The study, published in Psychiatry Research, found that regularly consuming fermented foods replete with plentiful amounts of beneficial bacteria may indeed help reduce social anxiety.

In the College of William and Mary study 710 students completed food diaries about their intake of fermented foods over the previous thirty days. They were also asked about exercise frequency and their consumption of fruits and vegetables so the researchers could control for healthy habits beyond fermented food intake. Researchers found that those who ate higher amounts of fermented foods had lower levels of social anxiety. The link was particularly noticeable among those who demonstrated signs of neuroticism.

Matthew Hilimire, a professor of psychology at the College of William and Mary and one of the researchers who conducted the study, said in an interview with PsychCentral, “It is likely that the probiotics in the fermented foods are favorably changing the environment in the gut, and changes in the gut in turn influence social anxiety.”13 The study found that people prone to anxiety experience less social anxiety when they frequently consume fermented foods replete with probiotics.

It may be hard to comprehend how bacteria can affect your mind, but an increasing body of research is proving that they do. A study conducted by researchers at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, published in the medical journal Gastroenterology, showed that the specific probiotic known as Bifidobacterium longum eliminated anxiety and normalized behavior. The researchers found that chronic gastrointestinal inflammation induces anxiety-like behavior and alters the biochemistry of the central nervous system.

Further, a French study published in the British Journal of Nutrition confirms both the American and Canadian studies. They found that the same probiotic strain studied by the McMaster researchers, B. longum, along with another probiotic strain known as Lactobacillus helveticus, reduced anxiety. Additionally, the French study found that these two probiotics reduced psychological stress, depression, and feelings of anger and hostility.

Although the exact mechanism or mechanisms at work are not yet clear, researchers believe that the probiotics reduce gastrointestinal inflammation and boost serotonin levels. Serotonin, a feel-good brain hormone sometimes called the happiness hormone, was once believed to be exclusively found in the brain but is actually produced by the gut; in fact, scientists estimate that about 90 percent of the body’s serotonin can actually be found in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. That’s right: your intestines do some of the same work as your brain. And this is why many scientists now refer to the gut as the body’s “second brain”: the gut-brain health link has been the focus of a growing body of research proving the connection.

Ten Ways Specific Fermented Foods Can Improve Your Life

Eating sauerkraut helps protect you from breast cancer. When cabbage is fermented as it is in making sauerkraut, its nutrients, known as glucosinolates, transform into the powerhouse anticancer nutrients isothiocyanates. Researchers have found that isothiocyanates balance excessive hormone production linked to breast cancer and even suppress tumor growth. Kimchi is the medicine of the future. Scientists have identified a whopping 970 different probiotic species in kimchi, many of which offer powerful immune-boosting effects. Some of these unique probiotics are proven to kill superbugs even when our most potent medicines fail! The Journal of Medicinal Food found that kimchi’s additional health properties include anticancer properties, anti-obesity benefits, anticonstipation, colorectal health promotion, cholesterol reduction, fibrolytic effect (a process that prevents blood clots from growing), antioxidative and anti-aging properties, brain health promotion, immune promotion, and skin health promotion. Regular consumption of miso fights at least five different types of cancer. Research published in multiple medical journals, including the International Journal of Oncology, found that miso consumption prevents and even effectively treats lung, liver, breast, colon, and liver cancers. Eating yogurt can reduce four markers essential for preventing diabetes and heart disease. Research published in the journal Nutrition demonstrated that yogurt cultured with the probiotic L. plantarum improved cholesterol levels, blood sugar balance, and homocysteine levels in women with metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of four symptoms, and when they occur together, they increase a person’s risk of diabetes as well as heart disease and stroke. So reducing these markers bodes well for long-term health. Eating certain fermented foods can alleviate seasonal allergies. Fermented plums contain beneficial yeasts known as Saccharomyces cerevisiae that have been linked to reducing allergies, congestion, and sinusitis. But why pop expensive supplements when you can reap these benefits and enjoy my Cultured Plum Chutney? Eating fermented foods can give your brain a boost. Exciting new research published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology found that intentionally boosting beneficial microbes by adding fermented foods to the diet could directly activate neural pathways between the gut and the brain and may boost brain health and prevent depression. Eating nondairy yogurt can improve bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Research published in the International Journal of Food Science and Nutrition and multiple other journals found a direct link between dairy-free yogurt consumption and bone health. Drinking probiotic-rich kefir helps protect against cancer and even effectively treats the disease. Kefir contains a probiotic called Lactobacillus kefiri P-IF, which is effective against leukemia even when multiple cancer drugs fail. Eating fermented soy, known as miso, can prevent radiation injury. It’s not just an urban myth: medical research conducted in Hiroshima found that eating fermented soy protects against the damaging effects of radiation — a growing concern in our modern society. Fermented foods are the missing link when it comes to effortless and permanent weight loss. In many studies the intestines of overweight and obese people were found to differ from those of lean people. Research published in the medical journal Beneficial Microbes found that obese and overweight people tend to have a higher ratio of harmful microbes to beneficial ones. The best way to boost beneficial microbes to benefit from their slimming properties is to enjoy fermented foods that contain live cultures on a regular basis.

These health benefits are just the tip of the iceberg. New studies are being released on an almost daily basis, demonstrating the health benefits of incorporating more probiotics and probiotic-rich foods into the diet.

# # #

Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM, is an internationally bestselling author whose works include The Cultured Cook and Be Your Own Herbalist. She is a certified herbalist, a board-certified doctor of natural medicine, and one of the world’s most popular natural health bloggers. She holds advanced degrees in health, nutrition, orthomolecular nutrition, and acupuncture. She lives near Vancouver, BC, Canada. Visit her online at www.drmichellecook.com.

Excerpted from the book The Cultured Cook. Copyright © 2017 by Michelle Schoffro Cook. 

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With her clear-eyed, inspiring, and sweeping vision, futurist and author of Conscious Evolution: Awakening the Power of our Social Potential Barbara Marx Hubbard says that the crises our world is currently facing are not precursors of an apocalypse, but the natural birth pains of what will become an awakened universal humanity. In this inspiring conversation with host Kim Corbin, Barbara reframes problems as evolutionary drivers and explains how each of us is being called to fulfill our creative potential so that we can be active participants in the greatest adventure in human history — our conscious evolution.   You can tune in and listen to this great conversation directly on Unity Online Radio, iTunes, Stitcher, Soundcloud, or YouTube, and if you enjoy this podcast series, please feel free to leave a five-star rating and review on iTunes.For more discussion with other listeners and fans after the show, we invite you to join the New World Now podcast community on Facebook.
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Like certain timeless wisdom, there’s a sutra right at the very beginning of The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali—that wonderful collection of wisdom from Hindu philosophythat defines my ongoing mental struggles so simply, I can actually find it a little aggravating.

Maybe that’s just me thinking about it in the wrong way. You know—habitually sending my thoughts in an aggravating direction. It also happens to be the sutra that supplies my favorite definition of what Yoga actually is. It’s Chapter One, verse two, and it goes something like this:

“Yoga is the control of thought-waves in the mind.”butterfly on pond with wave ripplesAs usual, with the Wisdom of the Ages, it makes it seem so simple and direct, doesn’t it? But for all the times I’ve attempted to sort out the random jumble that makes up my mind, I’ve discovered it’s anything but—unless I can experience it myself. And then I realize it really is simple, if I can simply change the way I think about it. I have to start by sharing the awareness of my thinking as “thought-waves in the mind.”

The simplest way into that deceptively simple sutra is through its fluid metaphor for thinking—the lovely idea that my thought process can flow along in a controlled and comfortable way, like sets of waves that can be observed from a safe distance, and then guided in the direction of our choosing. Like the action of water, I need a concept that penetrates down into the process I so easily take for granted.

Water finds its greatest power by seeking its lowest point.” – A Zen saying

Functionally, my fluid thoughts are more often like choppy waters, or sudden shore-breaks; insistent, swirling whirlpools, or even tsunamis. Fluid, but not really so orderly. I’m much more likely to be thrown around, or washed over, or sucked under by spontaneous thoughts than to calmly line them up like orderly waves going in this direction or that, like Poseidon playing in the pool at Mount Olympus.

Most of the time, the most fluid metaphor for my mind comes in the image of a self-propelling shark, swinging side to side, ceaselessly roving from thought to thought, following random electromagnetic impulses (or some sudden, unconnected suggestion of blood in the water), instinctively following the pathways I feel have worked in the past to assure my “survival.”

Sandbars of used thoughts

north sea sandbarsSo, as it turns out, I think the way I think because I’ve been practicing thinking that way for a long time—and there’s a Vedic concept that describes this liquid metaphor that comes in the form that our wise Hindu philosopher would call samskaras.

Samskaras are patterns of thought—directions our thoughts run in that are caused by a kind of erosion in our minds. They’re those recurring thoughts that unconscious gravity insists must cascade down, over and over, in the same direction. And as they do, they carve out channels and build up stream banks, like sandbars of used thoughts.

Without you even realizing it, these insistent patterns force your thoughts into old directions that may not even serve you anymore, that may actually prevent you from thinking in new directions and realizing new potentials.

Over and over, your thoughts lead you back in the wrong way. Season after season, you become accustomed to irrigating the same garden of your unconscious focus, harvesting the same bounty of discomfort and anxiety.

Put simple joyful hydrology to work

a portion of the Anjajavy Forest with river winding through itBut as any good farmer can tell us, we can redirect the stream of our flowing thoughts through conscious awareness, and by putting some simple joyful hydrology to work. Our goal is to move the flow of our thought-streams into new ground—to cut new, more beneficial channels into our internal geography, and in that way, redirect our outcomes and eventually (sometimes suddenly!) reshape our minds.

We can redirect the stream of our flowing thoughts through conscious awareness, and by putting some simple joyful hydrology to work.

This concept may sound familiar to you in modern, scientific terms, and if you think of mindfulness, it should. It’s described in modern neuro-scientific terms as reconfiguring neural pathways. (When you study ancient Hindu wisdom, you realize that they understood neuroscience, astrophysics, quantum mechanics and a whole lot more “modern knowledge” a long, long time before any of it was “discovered.”) 

In order to irrigate our lives with new streams of positive thought (that is, to modify our samskaras, as Patanjali would say) we simply need to consciously introduce thought-waves that go in new and better directions, and guide them over new ground that’s been properly prepared.

We know it’s practically impossible to route any kind of stream over hardpack, so we’ve got to introduce some air and space into the ground of our thinking to counteract and command the effects of so much gravity. We need to consciously introduce joy. We can accomplish this first in sort of a counter-intuitive way.

We start by recognizing when we’re going in that uncomfortable direction again, that a common direction our thinking takes reliably leads us to a state of agitation or discomfort. The uncomfortable awareness we experience is really the precondition for rerouting our stream of thought in a new and more joyful direction.

For example, experiencing envy towards others shows us that we’re focusing too much on what they’ve done, and not enough on what we’re doing ourselves—too much focus on their outsides and not enough on our own insides. Or when we experience extreme sadness, we’re focusing too much on the way things end, and not enough on the excitement of their beginnings or the beauty of how they are right now.

This more joyful, common-sense perspective on our uncomfortable directions softens up the ground of our new becoming, and allows the awareness of counter-intuition to point our thoughts towards a new positivity, away from the patterns of pain we’ve unconsciously accustomed ourselves to.

Too much gravity!

piece of land with house floating in the airThe key to all this new irrigation, to the redirection of all these cascading streams of thought is, of course, gravity! Gravity—or should I say, too much of it. You have to consciously escape all that gravity! To lighten your thoughts up, and aerate the ground of your being, for Pete’s sake. Seven billion of us can’t all be that important, you know.

Positive thoughts are light thoughts; they’re easy thoughts, and the directions they stream in are easily lifted and directed in order to run straight towards your true potential. Then the fertile, uncut expanses of your inner potential can be fed by new furrows of thought—springs and streams and cascades of joyful possibility, reconfiguring the pathways of your thought process. Sounds simple, doesn’t it?

The other day, I saw a perfect illustration of this skillful redirection. I was watching possibly the greatest tennis player of all time as he barely squeaked by a young, underrated player whose inspired play turned a victory everyone had taken for granted into a real struggle for survival. Immediately following the contest, the commentator revealed the direction of his own samskaras when he asked:

“That was a very difficult match, wasn’t it? Did you expect him to be so tough to beat?”

The champion answered, “We had a lot of fun. It was really exciting. That’s why I’m here, to bring that kind of excitement to people, and to experience it myself.” He smiled big.

“Didn’t you have back problems two weeks ago? Was that affecting your play today?” asked the commentator.

The champion replied, “I’m just very happy to be playing here today. It was a great match, and I’m really looking forward to the rest of the tournament.” He smiled even bigger.

The commentator (a little bemused) finally asked, “The new roof here really closes in all the action. Didn’t you find all the noise distracting?”

The champion said, “It’s a wonderful atmosphere for the tournament. All the people here have been absolutely great—it’s really fun to get to play for them!” He smiled a huge smile, politely ended the interview and smacked three or four autographed balls out into the cheering crowd with his racket.

You see, joyfully redirecting your thoughts is never such a big deal after all. You simply see that familiar pain arising, and set a course in a different direction.

«RELATED READ» MINDFUL LIVING: Want to get out of your reactive thoughts and live mindfully? Read this.»

image 1. Pixabay 2. Pixabay 3. Pixabay 4. By C. Michael Hogan – Own work by the original uploader, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Original author: Contributing Writer
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Shelli Pruett is a Los Angeles-based artist. She has a degree in Fine Arts from New College in Sarasota, Florida. Her work has been published in many venues, including The Wall Street Journal. Her cartoons range from the pithy and philosophical to the whimsical. They’re about life and spirituality in this modern world, as well as alternate worlds of imagination.
Original author: Shelli Pruett
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Posted by on in Mindfulness
Shelli Pruett is a Los Angeles-based artist. She has a degree in Fine Arts from New College in Sarasota, Florida. Her work has been published in many venues, including The Wall Street Journal. Her cartoons range from the pithy and philosophical to the whimsical. They’re about life and spirituality in this modern world, as well as alternate worlds of imagination.
Original author: Shelli Pruett
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large open plan home with high ceilingsIn our weekly Mindful Dreams column, Aneta Baranek of the School of Metaphysics is offering free dream interpretations to The Mindful Word readers, as well as articles on dreams in general.

If you’ve ever been curious about deciphering the cryptic contents of your subconscious mind, here’s your chance! If you would like Aneta to interpret your dream, fill out this form. She will respond with your dream interpretation through this column, published every Thursday. Aneta would love to receive more comments for the dreams interpreted. If you can relate to a dream posted here or have any insights to add, you can post them as comments to the interpretation, or email her at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Intro

DREAM

Hi Aneta,

Before I write the dream, I should say that I was absolutely soaked in sweat by the time I arose.

First, I remember walking to a house with a giant roof and high ceilings. It was like an outfitted barn but with only one room, and everything was in it: kitchen, bathroom, living room, everything you can imagine. There were children passing in and out. I asked the couple there if they wanted to build higher up into the home, but they didn’t want to.

Earlier in the dream, I remember that I was trying to get a friend out of the basement of another house that was leaking water everywhere. We couldn’t find a way out, but there was glass and a spiral staircase upwards. We used the staircase, but she seemed reluctant to climb, like dizzy or perhaps she couldn’t catch her breath. It was all a blur. 

What do you think this means?

Thanks,

Aleksa

DREAM TITLE: “Exploring Different Places in Mind”

DREAMER: Female, 21, Canada

MAIN SYMBOLS:

House — state of mind of the dreamer

Children — developing aspects of the dreamer

Basement — unconscious parts of dreamer’s mind

Friend — familiar aspect of the dreamer

Water — conscious life experience

Glass — transparency

Staircase — tool for ascension

INTERPRETATION

Hello Aleksa,

Thank you for sharing your dream.

Any house in a dream represents the dreamer’s state of mind. In your case, the house has high ceilings and a giant roof, which represent wholeness and an elevated perspective in relation to how you use your mind. All the areas (kitchen, living room and bathroom) being in the same single space speak to you not having strict and clear delineations between different parts of your mind. To explain further: a bathroom symbolizes a place for release and cleanup, a kitchen is where you prepare knowledge (food) and a living room is a place for connection with various parts of yourself.

Any person in a dream represents an aspect of the dreamer. The children symbolize unknown, developing aspects of you, and your friend a known, familiar aspect. The next step with people we know who appear in our dreams is to determine two main qualities that you, the dreamer, believe they demonstrate. This helps to narrow the aspects within the dreamer that the dream is calling attention to. 

A basement represents the unconscious parts of a dreamer’s mind. A staircase is a way to move about in the house (mind). Therefore, anytime someone is climbing up a staircase, this symbolizes a degree of ascension in the dreamer’s consciousness.

 APPLICATION            

Overall, this dream reflects how you used your mind a day or two prior to having this dream. It reflects that you were exploring various parts of your mind, from the unconscious to the higher levels of consciousness. The dream also speaks to you being aware of parts of yourself that are still developing (children), as well as the qualities that your friend represents.

The mind is composed of three divisions: Conscious, Subconscious and Superconscious. The unconscious parts of the mind reside in all three divisions and represent those parts of ourselves that we’re not aware of. Most people utilize less than 10 percent of their mind’s power.

Your dream is encouraging you to explore more aspects of your mind. A few ways to do so include recording and interpreting your dreams, journaling and meditating. The more of your mind you put to practical use, the more of your true Self you’ll discover!

May your dreams illuminate the inner and outer you…

image: Pixabay

Original author: Aneta Baranek
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How does one regain confidence and optimism about love after a breakup? After her own relationship ended, author and counselor Rebekah Freedom McClaskey developed and practiced a series of small, step-by-step actions that ultimately helped her heal her heart and live in harmony with her destiny. 

In Breakup Rehab: Creating the Love You Want, Rebekah meets readers in their states of grief or resignation and walks them through twelve steps to forgiveness and self-responsibility, self-compassion and self-awareness, power and purpose. We hope you’ll enjoy this excerpt from the book.

# # #

What is forgiveness anyway? I offer you this: forgiveness is not holding yourself or another hostage to the past. It means giving yourself permission to be who you are — a perfectly flawed human who had an imperfect relationship.

It’s over. Everything you were building toward, the time you invested, and the moments you shared stopped. Who is to blame? What is to blame? Is there even anything to blame? I invite you to invest less time in avoiding the pain by playing the blame game and more time forgiving yourself and your ex.

But how do you forgive someone who hurt you so badly? How do you even begin to be kind to yourself after making such a dumb mistake? Hey, at least you tried. You put your heart out there. You got hurt. Now you have some big decisions to make.

Allow yourself the grace to say enough is enough and start to construct new boundaries. Oh, boundaries. I can hear the Dr. Phils of the world using this word as a catchall. We’ve talked about dropping our barriers and not walling off. How can we do that and still have boundaries? What do boundaries have to do with forgiveness?

Well, we teach people how to treat us by how we treat ourselves. We learn how to treat ourselves by how people treat us. Letting go and forgiving can break destructive cycles so that we can have healthier relationships. Breaking destructive cycles is the same as setting healthy boundaries. So forgiving yourself and others is a healthy way to set boundaries.

If you’re afraid to hurt your ex, if you’re a people pleaser, then setting boundaries is brave. In other words, if it’s over, let it be over. Bishop T. D. Jakes has a powerful sermon where he says, “There are people who can walk away from you. When people walk away from you, let them walk! . . . Your destiny isn’t tied to this person who left, people leave because they aren’t joined to you. You just have to let them go. . . . You have to know when a person’s part in your life is over so you don’t start trying to raise the dead.” Love won’t leave or forsake you. Trust that losing a relationship doesn’t mean you lose your ability to love or be loved.

Just keep surrendering the pain. Keep letting go. Keep forgiving.

Is this starting to sound like all the other books out there? Ugh, I know, right? But there is no way I could write this without including the timeless lesson of forgiveness. Without it, we don’t get a chance to try something new because we keep trying to repair the old. You can’t skip over learning to forgive.

The noun forgiveness means the act of pardoning someone or something. To pardon a sin is to have mercy on the sinner. A sinner is simply a person who didn’t stick the landing. The verb forgive means to actively behave in a way that demonstrates releasing yourself and others from accusation, blame, condemnation, judgment, and sentencing. Can you imagine the freedom you can have right now if you don’t make yourself or your ex wrong for what went down?

Do it. Imagine your relationship as one of many poignant experiences you’ll have in your lifetime. To forgive is to accept that what has been done to you was also done for you. Your relationship was your experience to have and so is your breakup. In some ways, forgiveness is the acknowledgment that there is something bigger than your agenda unfolding here. Like, “Okay, universe/God/whatever, I don’t understand exactly what is going on here, but I’m going to surrender my agenda and see what happens next.”

Did you have an agenda in the relationship? Don’t lie. Did you? Some of us feel bad about not being perfect (in everything we do) and that’s why we keep trying to improve ourselves. But self-help is kind of redundant if you consider that what is happening is what is supposed to happen. The thing that needs to shift is our perspective.

Forgiveness requires shifting your perspective. The roots of forgiveness begin by naming everything just as it is and accepting the past for what it was. Name it. Feel it. Then take inspired action to change it.

# # #

The author of Breakup Rehab: Creating the Love You Want, Rebekah Freedom McClaskey is a relationship specialist with a master’s degree in counseling psychology. Her private practice focuses on helping clients get what they want out of life and love. She lives in Southern California. Visit her online at www.rebekahfreedom.com.

Excerpted from the book Breakup Rehab. Copyright © 2017 by Rebekah Freedom McClaskey.  

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Before I started graduate school, I took a temporary job at a call centre to hold me over until it was time to move away for the next phase of my life. While working there, I was surprised to meet someone who was also on a spiritual path like I was, and we became friends. On the outside, we were very different, yet we had many interests in common. We both rode our bicycles to work, for example, and we both read books during our breaks.

Although this was a long time ago, I remember my friend telling me something along the lines that if I was really interested in developing spiritually, all I had to do was practice Qi Gong and Tai Chi. Over the years, since then, I’ve sought out teachers in order to learn different Qi Gong practices, as well as Tai Chi.

Enter Falun Dafa

Falun Dafa the fifth meditationApparently, where I currently live in North Texas, Qi Gong and Tai Chi aren’t exactly popular. Sure, you can find a class here or there. There are also small pockets of practitioners. Most municipal recreation centres offer Tai Chi, especially for seniors, but it’s very generic and classes focus more on the movements rather than on energy or the breath.

In my search for a deeper study and practice of both Qi Gong and Tai Chi, I turned to the website Meetup.com to see if there were any groups near me that met regularly to practice together. Lo and behold, I found one group that met at a park not too far away from me in Arlington. I contacted the Meetup organizer for the group and got the meeting details.

The first couple of times I went, the organizer was very patient and generous with his time, and he spent the whole two hours showing me the moves instead of doing the practice himself. It turned out the Meetup I’d found was for a Qi Gong practice as taught by Falun Dafa, an informal organization that originated in China.

At the time, I didn’t know anything about Falun Dafa, except what was sensationalized in the news. Supposedly, the group was being persecuted by the Communist regime in China. Members were imprisoned and tortured, and supposedly, their organs were being harvested. This was my first real exposure to members of Falun Dafa, what they stood for and what they believed.

The Qi Gong exercises themselves are comprised of a set of four different sets of movements and one sitting meditation. Altogether, it takes two hours to complete all five exercises. Members play a recording from the group’s founder, Li Hongzhi, and follow the verbal instructions. Since the instructions are all in Chinese, and I don’t speak any Chinese, I had to learn to recognize groups of sounds as my cues to move on to the next movement.

Aware, awake, refreshed and energized

Over the summer, when I practiced the five Qi Gong and meditation exercises with the Falun Dafa Meetup group, I started noticing some subtle changes in my body. The biggest change, which surprised me, was that I’d wake up feeling refreshed and fully energized. Prior to that, I couldn’t remember the last time I’d woken up fully refreshed and wide awake!

Over the summer, when I practiced the five Qi Gong and meditation exercises with the Falun Dafa Meetup group, I started noticing some subtle changes in my body.

During this time, I cut out all my caffeine as well. I didn’t really drink coffee, and I never drank soft drinks, but living in the South, I did drink a lot of iced tea. Iced tea can have as much caffeine in it as coffee! My family wasn’t too thrilled about going from regular tea to decaf. I couldn’t really taste the difference, but apparently, they could.

Not only did I wake up feeling refreshed and wide awake, but I also felt fully energized. I was ready to go for the day, and wouldn’t stop until it was time for bed! My high energy level lasted for most of the day, too. It didn’t wear off like a cup of coffee wears off after a while. I was amazed. What else could this Qi Gong practice do for me?

Fall of summer

Falun Gong, Malaysia man sitting in meditation with photosSlowly, as the summer dragged along and I met more members of this Falun Dafa group, the practitioners gently began to insist that I read the English translations of all the books written by the group’s founder. They also requested that I listen to all his lectures, which have been translated into English and are freely available through the Falun Dafa website.

At first, I didn’t mind. I read the books and listened to the lectures. Some of the ideas were intriguing, but others just seemed plain bizarre. “How can anybody believe this?” I wondered.

Then, the members wanted me to join them in a sort of scripture study of the books. Their fanatical side started to show. They were very kind and generous, but a little on the extremist side, it seemed. Their insistence on discussing Mr. Hongzhi’s doctrine and including me in their book studies started to scare me off.

Alas, to my disappointment, I stopped going to the Meetup. When I have time, I still try to practice the Qi Gong exercises I learned from Falun Dafa, but I haven’t practiced them as regularly as I did when I met with the group.

Unfortunately, I’m back to waking up tired, and drinking caffeinated tea and even coffee to keep me going. My occasional practice isn’t enough to energize me anymore. Moreover, I only do the first four exercises, and skip the hour-long meditation, as I don’t usually have two consecutive hours to practice during the week. I was never sure how much the final meditation contributed to the energetic state, anyhow. 

While Falun Dafa practitioners are very enthusiastic and even fanatical about their group’s teachings and practices, it’s best if you don’t let that scare you away from learning and doing the exercises themselves. At their core, they’re different Qi Gong exercises that can increase the amount of energy held in your body.

Should you practice Qi Gong, you may find (as I did!) that you wake up fully refreshed, awake and energized, and stay that way throughout the day.

«RELATED READ» QI GONG: An effective antidote to modern stress»

In addition to being a loving husband and father of two girls, José is the author of an upcoming book, Spiritual Living for Busy People. As a holistic life coach, he loves seeing clients make breakthroughs in their lives. You can find out more on his main site, jose-delatorre.com.
image: 1. By Nation kingdom (Own work) (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Wikimedia Commons 2. By longtrekhome (Falun Dafa the fifth exercise, meditation) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
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In his Indian accent, still quite prominent even after more than 40 years in the United States, Deepak calmly instructs us to close our eyes and simply breathe and focus on silently repeating our personal mantra.

Within a minute or so, my body feels less rigid and my breathing is slower. I sense my body sinking deeper into the chair with every mantra recitation.

The Ken Commandments front cover - I'm a soul and I'm perfect

Deepak then instructs us to “picture a screen of your consciousness and see yourself today and recapitulate everything that has happened so far.”

Within a few seconds of his prompt, I picture waking up and writing in my diary in the hotel room, walking to get coffee as it’s still dark, doing a Yoga class outside on the lawn by the golf course as the sun is rising, sitting in the ballroom for morning meditation session for a half an hour, having lunch with other attendees out on the hotel terrace.

Deepak then says to become aware of any flashes of memories, not in order but just as they come, of the day each of us left home to come here. I see the images of packing my suitcase, of saying goodbye to the kids, of Brooke mentioning that she liked this “new, calmer Ken” who was about to drive down to San Diego for a spiritual retreat, of me arriving at the resort and feeling nervous about what I’d just committed to doing for the next six days.

Moving into the past

As I swim in the images, Deepak says to recall a significant event from “the last 10 years or so” that was emotionally important in some way—good or bad.

I round off to 13 years ago and think of my son Jackson being born. The image is so vivid of my pale baby son with a big head and big blue eyes, of touching his tiny hand in the delivery room and him squeezing it, cementing a bond that’s unbreakably beautiful.

By now, I’m in a trancelike state as Deepak says to imagine a time in my teens. My mental picture shows a white banner strung across my house that my Mom made, reading CONGRATULATIONS, KENNY! after I’d won a World Cup hockey tournament. I smile as I relive the moment as clearly as if it were yesterday.

Perhaps I’m in “the gap”; maybe I’ve found the amorphous space in which the soul resides. I’m just being.

Deepak asks us to remember when we were under 12 and I see me playing baseball with my brothers on a field near our house. The scene plays out like a movie. I’m both viewer and participant. My father is coaching us, laughing and hitting ground balls to all of us.

I feel my eyes welling with tears. I miss Dad. I want to reach out and touch him, squeeze his hand like Jackson did to mine in that delivery room. I’m emotionally and physically immersed in the regression exercise. I’m not asleep, but also not quite conscious. This is the closest I’ve ever come to having an out-of-body experience. Perhaps I’m in “the gap”; maybe I’ve found the amorphous space in which the soul resides. I’m just being.

Deepak then tells us to think of when we were babies, under two years old. At first, I’m having trouble, but I soften my mind’s eye and eventually an image of me staring up from my crib at a colourful mobile comes before me. It’s joyful, innocent, and simple—much in the way that I’ve been learning this week is our true, natural state of being, before our ego invades and distracts and our nurture of parents, of culture, of traumas overshadows our nature.Colourful baby mobile hanging over crib - I'm a soul and I'm perfectThen, in his soothing drone, Deepak asks for us to see ourselves in the womb. My chest is rising and falling on its own, a soothing force of life, as if the universe is passing through me like my Yoga teacher likes to describe the sensation. Every muscle in my body feels relaxed.

I’m in a fully meditative state when a totally black picture emerges before me. I’m floating in water and can only hear the pulse of my heartbeat and primordial squishing sounds amid the fluids of the womb.

Under Deepak’s spell, I’ve lost track of time and space. This exercise could’ve been going on for 10 minutes or an hour—I have no clue.

Fully immersed in the moment, I hear Deepak ask us to regress further and see ourselves in “previous lives.” A series of images immediately pop into my head. First, I see me in what looks like the 1800s or maybe early 1900s and I’m a pretty woman with big breasts wearing a fancy dress, as if I’m in high society. I don’t look very nice or warm. Then I see me as a peasant in some period of time long ago, like several hundred years ago, draped in drab gray clothing. It seems as if I’m begging in the streets of some ancient-type place. Then I see myself as a black woman in Africa; I’m topless, with big, floppy breasts.

Back to the present moment

After some period of time, Deepak invokes us to slowly open our eyes and “come back into the present.”

My gaze comes into focus as the lights slowly turn back on in the ballroom. It’s the evening of July 13, 2016, and my body is in Carlsbad, California. After seemingly having just travelled back in time, I’ve never felt more in the present. And I came to this sensation, this awareness, by turning off my thoughts, creating a space in which I could just experience my being. By losing my mind, I connected with my soul.

I’ve found a way to create space for me, a bigger space of self-awareness and peace than the one I’ve been able to find with my Headspace apps. I’d just transcended my physical self. And in that space, in between the breaths and the thoughts and distractions of my life, I found a tranquillity that I’ve never found praying to Jesus, getting my Tarot cards read, studying the Bible, or staring at a sunset. It’s a place where my stomach doesn’t hurt, my mind isn’t consumed with worry, and I don’t feel shame or guilt that I’m not a good enough father or husband or son or brother or E! News correspondent.

In this space, I’m a soul. And I’m perfect.

«RELATED READ» BORIS’S STORY: How an academic merged scientific and spiritual belief to find peace within»

image 1: Yahoo via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons BY-SA); image 2: Pexels
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large rainbow coloured kite in the skyIn our weekly Mindful Dreams column, Aneta Baranek of the School of Metaphysics is offering free dream interpretations to The Mindful Word readers, as well as articles on dreams in general.

If you’ve ever been curious about deciphering the cryptic contents of your subconscious mind, here’s your chance! If you would like Aneta to interpret your dream, fill out this form. She will respond with your dream interpretation through this column, published every Thursday. Aneta would love to receive more comments for the dreams interpreted. If you can relate to a dream posted here or have any insights to add, you can post them as comments to the interpretation, or email her at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Intro

 

DREAM

Hi Aneta,

I once had a dream that I was sitting on a huge kite and flying in the sky. I was enjoying it until I turned around and saw many electrical wires for connectivity. I wanted to stop so I wouldn’t crash into them, but I couldn’t. I kept dodging the wires, but in the end, I lost balance and crash-landed.

I died in the end. I woke with a sinking feeling in my heart, and I couldn’t breathe. It felt like I’d really had that fall! 

– Drashti

DREAM TITLE: “Dying While Flying on a Kite”

DREAMER: Female, 17, India

MAIN SYMBOLS:

Flying — freedom

Sky — Superconscious Mind

Wires — connections

Death — transformation

INTERPRETATION

Hello Drashti,

Thank you for sharing your dream.

Flying in a dream symbolizes freedom. The sky symbolizes Superconscious Mind, the highest level of consciousness. The electrical wires represent some sort of connections that you wanted to avoid crashing into. Crashing and dying in a dream symbolizes change, a significant transformation.

The dream highlights the idea that you were experiencing a lot of freedom while connecting with the highest level of your consciousness. This freedom was achieved in an unexpected or unorthodox way (kite). There were some connections that you wanted to avoid while in that state, yet these connections eventually caused you to transform (fall/death).

The sensation of falling that you describe likely had to do with your astral body re-entering and reconnecting with your physical body. This sensation is pretty common towards the end or the beginning of a dream cycle.

APPLICATION

If this were my dream, Drashti, I’d examine the 24 to 48 hours prior to having this dream. If that weren’t possible, then I’d try to recall major events in my life that took place around the time of the dream. 

The dream speaks to you experiencing an incredible sense of freedom and inner-connectedness. It concludes with you undergoing a major transformation. Whatever waking life circumstances influenced your dream were paramount and very significant. It’s not every day that we have profound experiences leading us to heights of freedom and culminating in transformation.

I’d encourage you to explore activities and experiences that bring you freedom in life. What are they? This is what the dream is calling your soul to ponder and pursue.

May your dreams illuminate the inner and outer you…

image: pxhere
Original author: Aneta Baranek
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In his new book, The Art of Connection: 7 Relationship-Building Skills Every Leader Needs Now, Michael J. Gelb writes, “Conjungere ad solvendum is Latin for ‘Connect before solving.’ I’ve made up this motto because through teaching and facilitating innovative thinking for decades I’ve discovered that the most powerful catalyst for inspiring creative breakthroughs, and for translating those breakthroughs into sustainable innovations, is to guide people to connect with one another first, before trying to solve a problem.”

When people connect — when they are on the same wavelength, attuned, in rapport — they are much better at generating, and implementing, new ideas. We hope you’ll enjoy this excerpt in which Gelb shares how to improve this essential relationship-building skill. 

# # #

Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But since no one was listening, everything must be said again. 
— André Gide (1869–1951), Nobel Laureate in Literature

Every book, blog, and LinkedIn post on leadership, parenting, relationships, or emotional intelligence has something to offer about the importance of listening and how to improve this critical leadership competency. Even if, in spite of Gide’s quip, you have been listening, let’s consider how to improve this essential relationship-building skill. 

Listening is like Driving

Ever notice that anyone going slower than you is an idiot, but anyone going faster is a maniac? 
 — George Carlin (1937–2008), humorist

My friends in Los Angeles swear that the worst drivers in the country are to be found on the 405, but anyone from DC will tell you they’re on the Beltway. Folks from New Jersey commiserate about the Turnpike, but Bostonians will tell you that the Callahan Tunnel is the epicenter of bad driving. If you speak with Italians, Brazilians, or Indians, they’ll explain that the standard of driving in their countries makes U.S. drivers look tame. Yet, although people are quick to agree that the general standard of driving leaves much to be desired, most people believe that they are above-average drivers.

Listening is like driving — most people think they are better than average, but that can’t be true. 

The Dunning-Kruger Effect 

In a classic study entitled “Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments,” psychologists Justin Kruger and David Dunning report that in many social and intellectual domains “people who lack the knowledge or wisdom to perform well are often unaware of this fact.” Dunning and Kruger’s subjects overestimated their prowess in logical reasoning, grammar, and sense of humor. 

Researchers at the University of Stockholm in Sweden posed the question: “Are we all less risky and more skillful than our fellow drivers?” The answer? No! Other studies have found that people often overestimate their popularity, job performance, and relationship abilities.

Bad driving is common, and so is bad listening. Before we explore the art of listening well, let’s consider the everyday manifestations of bad listening.

How do you know when someone isn’t listening? Let us count the ways!

Think back over your last week: 

Have you had people check their messages or text while you were trying to speak to them? Have you been interrupted? Has anyone fidgeted, checked his watch, or rolled his eyes at you? Have you had someone fail to make eye contact, look at her device, or change the subject when you were speaking?

Professor Sherry Turkle reports that 89 percent of Americans admit they took out a phone at their last social encounter — and 82 percent say that they felt the conversation deteriorated after they did so. 

And just as you may have been cut off by someone in a rush to get to work or stuck behind a torturously slow car in the fast lane, chances are that at some point another driver felt that you cut him off or that you failed to signal before turning. As you reflect on the bad listening manifestations that you’ve observed in others, please consider the possibility that others may have perceived you as being a less than ideal listener. 

A Bad-Listening Exercise
Take an inventory of your relationships and contemplate with humility and curiosity how you can become a better listener. You can deepen your insight and have some fun by experimenting with the following listening exercise.

For this exercise, you’ll need a partner. Tell your partner about something that interests you. Choose a topic that is meaningful, something that you’d really like to share. You might, for example, offer your thoughts on a political issue, ideas for a vacation you’re planning, or memories from the best concert you ever attended. Your partner’s job is to practice bad listening — to manifest as many nonaffirming listening habits as possible. Your task is to persist in communicating your message. After a minute or so, switch roles. Aim to do a worse job of listening than your partner did.

When this exercise is practiced in a class setting, the results are always fascinating. Tension quickly fills the room, often manifested in near hysterical laughter. Even though everyone knows it’s only a game, the stress generated is palpable. The result is that participants become sensitized to the manifestations of bad listening. This sets the stage for a deeper consideration of listening. 

# # #

Michael J. Gelb, author of The Art of Connection, has pioneered the fields of creative thinking, accelerated learning, and innovative leadership. He leads seminars for organizations such as DuPont, Merck, Microsoft, Nike, Raytheon, and the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He is also coauthor of Brain Power and several other bestsellers. His website is www.MichaelGelb.com.

Excerpted from the book The Art of Connection. Copyright © 2017 by Michael J. Gelb. 

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Alchemist Sendivogius (15661636) by Jan Matejko, 1867There’s a positively charged electrical field surrounding the Earth. The Earth itself carries a negative charge. While not taken seriously in their time, past scientists such as Nikola Tesla studied the frequency of the Earth. In the 1950s, the German physicist W.O. Schumann and his students carried out experiments with electromagnetic waves in the atmosphere and the ionosphere. Schumann discovered a natural pulse resonating around the Earth at a frequency of 7.83 Hz, widely known as the Schumann resonance.

While this is great scientific information, there are other important facts to take into account in regard to our practice. Connecting with the Earth’s resonance is essential. Not doing so can lead to lowered levels of melatonin, a cancer suppressant and cell-rejuvenating hormone produced in the brain. Electromagnetic pollution can even inhibit our ability to connect with the Earth’s natural pulse in a physical sense. 

The Earth is a living being. It’s starting to vibrate at a frequency we haven’t witnessed before. The frequency of the planet has been increasing very quickly throughout the last 10 years, and has almost doubled. The planet’s energy is expanding. The Earth is basically talking to us through her vibration.

The real question is, how are we tuning in to these new frequencies? If we don’t tune in, pain is generated, and it hurts a lot. It not only hurts your body, but your emotions end up all over the place and your mind becomes a wreck.

Why does this vibration matter to your life?

It matters because it’s like putting a lightbulb into a circuit that carries more electricity than the lightbulb can handle. If we don’t adjust our nervous systems and our energetic bodies, the Earth’s energy will become just too much for us to take. It’s necessary for us to align our bodies with the Earth, allowing us to move more comfortably through this physical world as its energy becomes stronger every day.

This phenomenon is happening all around the world. So if you think that you’re alone in being sensitive and maybe feeling a little crazy, relax! You’re just being triggered by this new flow of energy and need to realign.

We’ve created the misconception that being involved with cultivating a more conscious humanity is something that’s reserved to a select few. It’s not! We’re all going through this process. It’s happening right here and right now, all over the world. Many people are suffering, and not just economically. The number of people with depression is huge. This is because there’s a disconnect in the area of life linked to love, inspiration and purpose. Our vibrations aren’t aligned with our environment anymore. We’re living unnatural lives … uninspired lives.

This isn’t about assigning blame, especially not to those who are suffering the most. Also, it’s not about feeling superior because you believe that being on a certain spiritual path makes you better than others, “more awakened.” If you believe this, you’re being duped by your own ego-mind, and you need to realign with the truth of the Earth’s awakening that brings kindness rather than separation.

It’s such a gift to be on this Earth right now, and to be aware of the changes underway. We’re being called to be with our tribes. We’re being called to be our authentic selves. This is why we experience such pain, such as depression, when we aren’t aligned. If we don’t adapt, we go into a separatist mindset. We stay in the structures that we’ve been socially programmed to work with, believing “I have to be this; I have to be that; I can’t do this; I can’t do that,” and so on. 

When do we start to free ourselves?

Embodiment and grounding

walking barefoot on the beachMany philosophies and traditions, including Toltec, Mayan and Tantric agree that our internal shift has to start with our bodies. Our bodies are the place where we start to enjoy being alive. We in-joy: we enjoy being in our bodies, on Earth, right now.

If that isn’t happening naturally for you at this time, that’s in a strange way great, even though it doesn’t feel like it. It’s a sign that there’s plenty of beautiful yet demanding inner work for you to do in order to uncover what makes you happy and joyful.

We can all do this. Every time the part of us that doesn’t feel good enough or compares us to others shows itself, we can thank it for showing up and, now that the Earth’s vibration is so high, channel it to accelerate our own growth.

Grounding, or connecting to the Earth, is one of the most powerful practices we can use to remain centred in life. Connecting to the Earth corresponds to connecting to who we really are. This protects us from emotional rollercoasters and reckless thinking.

When we’re grounded within our bodies, it becomes so much easier to receive the imperfect parts of ourselves with kindness rather than panic or resentment.

To start, simply go outside barefoot. Stand and spread your feet wider than your hips, at a 45-degree angle, and bend your legs. This will open your hips, and you’ll also get to use the strong muscles of your legs to support yourself. Let your legs be active as the grounding point for the rest of your body.

Tuck in your tailbone and feel how there’s a straight line of connection from your tailbone all the way down to the centre of the Earth. Our connection with the Earth is always present, but we need to be more aware of it, and getting into this position is a great way to be more conscious of it. This is especially efficient since the hips are a part of the body where deep emotions that are hard to deal with get stuck.

Breathe down into your hips and into your belly. Get lost in the sensations that arise.

When we’re grounded within our bodies, it becomes so much easier to receive the imperfect parts of ourselves with kindness rather than panic or resentment. It might take time to get there, but it’s beautiful and worthwhile work! 

Harnessing the power of sound

Sound is the fastest way to change our vibrational frequency, because with the help of air, we can generate a sound that induces our body, tissues and cells to vibrate. This is one of the reasons why sound healing is so powerful. Sound gets to our core without any trouble, and reaches not only the body, but also the energetic body. With the vibration of the sound we’re exposed to, our bodies are able to effectively go back to their natural state of peace, harmony, clarity, intuition and joy.

If you play an instrument, sing or are in a band, you might already be familiar with the benefits of sound healing. Sound healing is not only beneficial in terms of our vibration and physical health, it’s also extremely potent when it comes to changing our mindset. I’ve had students who started crying instantly when we got into sound healing practices. They tapped into emotions and energy that had been completely stuck until then.

As the vibration of the Earth rises, we’re being called to become who we’re truly meant to be, and unlocking the hidden wounds that are holding us back is an indispensable part of this process.

When practicing sound healing, observe how you breathe. Close your eyes and return to that place in which you can see yourself as the unique and special being that you are. That’s your natural state!

Practice Shamanic Yoga

yoga on the beachSo what is Shamanic Yoga? It’s the perfect association of the disciplines of Yoga and Shamanism. The association of these two branches of spiritual practice allows us to create a truly holistic practice that takes into account all the aspects of the individual and the world that surrounds us: spiritual, physical, psychological, energetic and so on. 

Practicing Shamanic Yoga isn’t just about coming back into our bodies and enjoying the knowledge of this great Eastern philosophy. While Yoga by itself is already amazing, Shamanic Yoga fully embraces the importance of seeing ourselves as beings who are part of Nature and as children of the Earth.

Shamanic Yoga involves connecting to the Earth and the elements; calling on the power and wisdom of the elements, of Nature, of our ancestors or even on the power of each asana. Asanas such as Sun Salutations, Tree Pose and Cobra Pose are actually deeply linked to the Earth’s natural powers and to animals. You can also open your practice with an offering to Divine Forces and a call for direction. Through Shamanic Yoga, we’re able to become empowered through our transformation as individuals and our active participation in the Earth’s healing.

We’re all living laboratories

I hope these tools I’ve described will help you kick-start or continue your spiritual journey as the Earth’s vibration continues to rise. Its energy, combined with the transformative forces brought on by eclipses and planet movements might feel overwhelming at times, but the wisdom that’s necessary to embrace these changes is certainly within you. Inside, we’re all living laboratories—we just need to learn how to navigate our own. 

We’re all alchemists, so let’s do it! Our beautiful planet is asking us to.

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Juan Pablo Barahona (JuanPa) is a transformational leader, visionary, speaker, holistic Yoga teacher, musician, healer and coach. As the founder and director of Kawoq Conscious Living School, he has created life-changing programs that he shares around the globe. These programs enable participants to realize their deepest potential and step into their inner capacity for leadership and wisdom.
image: 1. Alchemist Sendivogius by Jan Matejko, 1867 via Wikimedia Commons 2. Pxhere 3. Pxhere
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flattened Rygoyuko station after great Kanto EarthquakeThe director Akira Kurosawa talked often of the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, which devastated Tokyo, killing almost 150,000 people. In its aftermath, his older brother took Kurosawa, then in middle school, to see the carnage.

When Kurosawa tried to look away from the corpses strewn in the streets, his brother admonished him to look directly at the horror. The director tells the story:

When that night I asked my brother why he made me look at those terrible sights, he replied, “If you shut your eyes to a frightening sight, you end up being frightened. If you look at everything straight on, there is nothing to be afraid of.”

That advice stayed with him and influenced his powerful use of the camera. It’s stayed with me, too.

Rewriting history

Now, in the late summer of 2017, as Americans discuss, argue, insult and fight over the presence of monuments to Confederate soldiers and leaders in our institutions, it strikes me that what we’re really doing is avoiding looking at the frightening sight.

This eruption of enmity that took hold over the summer reminds me that the rewriting of history is all around us. This revisionism, in its way, allows us to avoid facing the thing we fear. How much easier is it to venerate a losing cause than to examine its source and roots, not to mention the real harm and suffering it caused? How much more comforting is it to declare that both sides had validity, especially if your ancestors were among those who were recruited to fight (or who volunteered) for the losing side? 

I’m half-German. In my family, there are two ancestors who fought for the Nazis as conscripted soldiers. One was killed in action at the age of 19. The other survived the war, but lost his arm fighting in the Battle of Berlin as a 15-year-old. Talk about a lost cause!

I never met the first relative, obviously, but I was very close to the second and loved him dearly as a child. He was deeply haunted by his experience and is one of the reasons I began to write about the aftermath of the Second World War

I remember once asking my grandmother why there were so few old men in Germany back in the 1970s. “The war,” was all she said. She never talked about the war again, until reunification took us both back to where she’d spent those years, in a small town in what had become East Germany. Setting foot there nearly four decades later, she recalled only the day she watched American tanks roll through her town. After that, she never spoke about that time again. She’s another reason I set my novels in the months after the war was over.

For years, it was understood that Germans had been made to face their guilt and shame, and that the Nazi stain had been removed. But the reality is that the confrontation was never complete. For sure, we know much about the Holocaust (and continue, to this day, to learn more), including who perpetrated it and how.

History’s always happening

Robert E Lee statue removed New OrleansBut the thing that’s rearing its ugly head again is the why. Why did it happen? And, if our forebears were capable of such evil, who’s to say we aren’t?

I write books about the Second World War because the research forces me to confront the thing that scares me: the reality that I’m only one generation removed from the perpetrators.

To separate ourselves from the evil in others is to ignore our own ability to do harm. To ignore or misunderstand the past is to fail to see it coming back for us. To not face the thing that scares us is to let the wounds fester under the surface until they can’t be contained. And by definition, that’s a process that’s never finished, because history is always happening.

When the German soldiers began returning from the front and from their Prisoner of War (POW) camps, the German people made an implicit deal with them: don’t expect to be treated like heroes and we won’t ask what you did. That Faustian bargain held for a long time, even until the eventual deaths of these men. But it was a short-sighted cure, because with them died the opportunity to confront their pasts—and for us to confront ours.

Monuments aren’t a way of processing the past, they only serve to commemorate or mythologize certain aspects of our shared experience. I write books about the Second World War because the research forces me to confront the thing that scares me: the reality that I’m only one generation removed from the perpetrators of the war. People I love were involved … complicit. That’s my history.

The fight we’re having over monuments abdicates the responsibility each of us has to reconcile ourselves with the truth of history. Kurosawa used his camera to force his audience to look at things they’d rather not see. Likewise, we have to keep our eyes open and be unafraid. Perhaps that honours those who lived the history more than any monument could.

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C.F. Yetmen is the author of The Roses Underneath, which received the 2015 IPPY Gold Medal for Historical Fiction, was named a 2014 Notable Indie Book by the Shelf Unbound Writing Competition and was a 2014 Finalist in the Foreword Reviews’ INDIEFAB Book of the Year Awards. Her latest novel in the Anna Klein Trilogy, What is Forgiven, was released on September 5, 2017. She lives and works in Austin, Texas. Visit www.cfyetmen.com.
image: 1. See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons 2. By Infrogmation of New Orleans (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons
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These days it can be easy to feel like it’s impossible to make a difference in the world at an individual level. But in this inspiring conversation, Scott Stabile, author of Big Love: The Power of Living with a Wide-Open Heart, promises that nothing stands to transform us, our relationships, and the world more than a commitment to living our lives from love. He stresses the importance of standing up for what we believe in and offers an empowering perspective for reframing our relationship to fear as we put our love into action in the world.  You can tune in and listen to this great conversation directly on Unity Online Radio, iTunes, Stitcher, Soundcloud, or YouTube, and if you enjoy this podcast series, please feel free to leave a five-star rating and review on iTunes.For more discussion with other listeners and fans after the show, we invite you to join the New World Now podcast community on Facebook.
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Posted by on in Mindfulness
Shelli Pruett is a Los Angeles-based artist. She has a degree in Fine Arts from New College in Sarasota, Florida. Her work has been published in many venues, including The Wall Street Journal. Her cartoons range from the pithy and philosophical to the whimsical. They’re about life and spirituality in this modern world, as well as alternate worlds of imagination.
Original author: Shelli Pruett
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Posted by on in Mindfulness
Shelli Pruett is a Los Angeles-based artist. She has a degree in Fine Arts from New College in Sarasota, Florida. Her work has been published in many venues, including The Wall Street Journal. Her cartoons range from the pithy and philosophical to the whimsical. They’re about life and spirituality in this modern world, as well as alternate worlds of imagination.
Original author: Shelli Pruett
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WW1 battlefield with bunkerIn our weekly Mindful Dreams column, Aneta Baranek of the School of Metaphysics is offering free dream interpretations to The Mindful Word readers, as well as articles on dreams in general.

If you’ve ever been curious about deciphering the cryptic contents of your subconscious mind, here’s your chance! If you would like Aneta to interpret your dream, fill out this form. She will respond with your dream interpretation through this column, published every Thursday. Aneta would love to receive more comments for the dreams interpreted. If you can relate to a dream posted here or have any insights to add, you can post them as comments to the interpretation, or email her at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Intro

 

DREAM

Hi Aneta,

I had a dream once in which I was in a broken-down grey brick building on a battlefield in the middle of war. I was in rags and my father, who has passed away, came onto the battlefield with great white wings, firing fireballs out of his hand. I don’t remember much else. Thank you.

– Maria

DREAM TITLE: “Conflict as a Stepping Stone to Expansion”

DREAMER: Female, 29, U.S.

MAIN SYMBOLS:

Brick building  state of mind of the dreamer

War — inner conflict

Rags — outer expression

Father — Superconscious aspect

Wings — freedom

Fireballs — tool for change

Hand — purpose

INTERPRETATION

Hello Maria,

I appreciate you sharing your dream.

Your dream reflects an inner conflict (war, battlefield). It speaks to your identity reflecting a sense of struggle as well (rags).

Your father symbolizes a Superconscious aspect, an aspect of the highest consciousness within you. The wings symbolize the possibility to fly, which expresses freedom. The fireballs are tools for change and expansion. The presence of hands reveals that your dream is aiming to draw your attention to the purpose behind the conflict and your next steps.

To summarize: in a state of conflict, you called upon a part of your Higher Self (symbolized by your father) and you saw the possibility of change (fireballs) and freedom.

APPLICATION

Dreams reflect our state of mind from a day or two prior to us having a dream. They reflect our perceptions. In other words, they don’t tell us what actually occurred, but what we perceived as occurring.

We each have our own individual filters through which we see the reality around us. Based on our prior experiences, we might be projecting our emotions onto the surrounding environment. Dreams help us adjust our thought patterns so we can have better experiences in our waking lives. 

We all face conflicts from time to time as we progress through life. In your dream, in the midst of the conflict, you experienced the presence of an inner part of you that’s wiser (your father), one that offers tools for freedom and change/expansion. Since we don’t know the rest of the dream, we aren’t able to determine whether these tools were put to use or not.

What I think this dream highlights is that in every conflict, there’s an opportunity for us to grow and change. More specifically, there’s an opportunity for us to expand our perceptions in regard to the events we partake in. This is what the symbol of hands in your dream speaks to—the purpose behind a challenging situation.

If this were my dream, then the next time I were to face a conflict, I’d call upon those wiser parts of myself and trust that I have all that I need to emerge stronger from any challenging situation I encounter in my life.

 May your dreams illuminate the inner and outer you…

image: By British Official Photographer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Original author: Aneta Baranek
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I’m ashamed. It’s not a shallow shame, like when you forget your spouse’s birthday. It’s a deep shame. A shame that nags at you after you realize you could’ve done more, but didn’t.

When I was in my twenties, I became aware of the plight of calves raised for veal on factory farms. Pictures of young cows confined in wooden crates, unable to lie down, sickened me. I later learned that most chickens, turkeys, pigs and cows are horribly mistreated during their short lives on factory farms before being slaughtered to satisfy somebody’s palate.

Watching Food, Inc.

Food Inc movie posterFood Inc movie posterI gradually became vegetarian and proclaimed that I wouldn’t eat anything that had a face. I was doing my part, I thought, to challenge the appalling meat industry, and I slept easier for it—until I watched Food, Inc.

Who would’ve thought I’d need a box of tissues to get through a documentary about America’s corporate food system? My eyes welled up with tears as I watched merciless farm workers grab live birds by the legs and toss them like bags of trash. Hundreds of downy yellow chicks rolled on conveyor belts as if they were automobile parts. Cattle were beaten and prodded into submission. Forklift operators scooped up dairy cows that were too weak to stand, so they could be sent off to slaughter. Suddenly, not eating meat didn’t seem like enough.

Buy local and organic was one of the film’s messages. I restricted my daily yogurt regimen to organic brands and purchased milk in nostalgic glass bottles from a local dairy. I bought pricey pasture-raised eggs produced by chickens that supposedly live outside and do what chickens are meant to do: sun themselves, scratch for food and take dust baths. I felt better about myself—until I met Jenny Brown.

Meeting Jenny Brown

One day, an ad in the Sunday newspaper caught my eye. Jenny Brown, author of The Lucky Ones: My Passionate Fight for Farm Animals, was scheduled to speak at a local bookstore. I’d never heard of Jenny, but after my cry-fest during Food, Inc., the title of her book grabbed me.

Jenny, an animal rights activist and co-founder of Woodstock Farm Sanctuary in High Falls, New York, is a petite brunette with a wide smile. She talked about the childhood cancer that claimed her right leg, below the knee, when she was 10 years old. Then, she wasted no time getting to her life’s mission: farm animal welfare. “Cancer was a blip in my life compared with what I have ahead of me,” she says in her book.

Jenny had me captivated for two hours, and I could’ve easily listened to her for two more. She talked about her first cat, Boogie, who helped her realize that animals are capable of complex emotions; her discovery, in college, that animals raised for food are horrifically mistreated; and how she and her husband founded the animal sanctuary that’s now home to hundreds of rescued farm animals.

Every dollar we spend on animal foods produced in a factory farm environment sends the message that we support a system that practices abuse.

Jenny’s message throughout her talk was that we must fight for helpless, abused farm animals, primarily by reducing our consumption of animal products and educating and encouraging others so that they do the same. It’s a matter of supply and demand. Every dollar we spend on animal foods produced in a factory farm environment sends the message that we support a system that practices abuse.

Milk, cheese and eggs passed my “did it have a face” test, so I thought there was no harm in consuming them. For years, I gulped down a gallon of milk each week. Yogurt was my daily mid-morning snack, and cheese sandwiches were a mainstay in my brown-bag lunches. Who knows how many eggs I ingested in the form of baked goods? But I never made the connection.

The plight of calves

cow with calves in pasturecow with calves in pastureJenny told us how newborn calves of dairy cows are taken from their mothers one to three days after birth. The farmer makes his or her money per gallon (or litre) of milk, so allowing calves to drink their mother’s milk wastes profits. Instead, calves are given a cheap powdered milk replacement that’s laden with antibiotics to keep them from getting sick because of stress. The girls, who will eventually replace their mothers in the herd, are moved to another facility. The males are sold very young, usually to veal farmers, for their meat.

Oh, my god. In all the years I’d been vegetarian, I’d never realized that male calves born to milk cows are the calves that become someone’s veal dinner. The dairy industry drives the veal industry that led me to become vegetarian. And I’d been blindly consuming dairy products all along!

How could I have been so ignorant, for so many years?! The shame engulfed me, and has been with me ever since.

As horrible as life is for animals raised for meat on factory farms, the misery of milk cows and hens used within the corporate dairy and egg industries is worse. Treated like commercial machines, pumping out milk and eggs at an unnatural rate, the animals suffer longer than their counterparts raised for meat.

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) website, bovine growth hormones, unnatural diets and selective breeding for massive milk production force today’s dairy cows to produce 10 times more milk than cows who lived a few decades ago. Milk cows are artificially inseminated and spend most of their lives pregnant. They suffer from mastitis, a painful bacterial infection that causes a cow’s udders to swell; surgical mutilation without painkillers, such as tail docking and dehorning; and the separation of mother and baby.

Egg-laying hens

The ASPCA website also says that most egg-laying hens in the United States live in long, windowless sheds where up to 10 hens are packed together in one wire cage that’s approximately the size of a file drawer. A portion of each hen’s beak is burned or sliced off (known as debeaking), without painkillers, to lessen the fighting that erupts because the birds are forced into such tight quarters.

Sadly, even farms that promote cage-free or free-range hens keep the birds in overcrowded henhouses and practice debeaking. And most egg producers, even those that label their hens as pasture-raised, have chicks delivered from a hatchery through the mail. No food or water is provided while the chicks are in transit. Millions of baby birds are dead when they reach their destinations.

In my half-century of living, there hasn’t been much that has stirred passion in me. But Jenny’s talk roused something in me that I’d never experienced before. It was anger, pity and helplessness rolled together with the nagging feeling that I’d been contributing to something terribly wrong for a long time.

Going vegan

I walked in the door after Jenny’s talk, and announced that I’d stop supporting the dairy and egg industries. The decision was that quick.

After decades of ignorance, I’ve largely transitioned to a plant-based diet. No longer a passive vegetarian, I’m trying to educate others about the appalling level of animal cruelty within our food system.

At times, fighting such powerful mega-corporations makes me feel small and helpless. But every day, more people are joining the plant-based movement, which gives me hope that farm animal abuse can be abolished and some of the “kind” can be returned to “humankind.”

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image: 1. Pixabay 2. MikeCriss Blog – Food Inc via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) 3. Egg laying hens (chickens) in a factory farm battery cage by Compassion Over Killing (CC BY-SA 3.0)via Wikimedia Commons
Original author: Contributing Writer
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