Are Antidepressants a Cure or They just Remove Symptoms?

It must be emphasized that when an ordinary person talks about mind, he is in reality talking about the mind, not the brain. This clarity of thinking gets lost the moment we enter the scientific community and their research. For all practical purposes of their research, brain is the mind. Often they use the two words interchangeably. Science loves simplified statements that come after data grinding and number crunching. You talk about love, sex, depression, stress – or anything else for that matter – and researchers get ready with instruments to isolate some electrical signal or biochemical reaction for correlation. Once that correlation is achieved the experience becomes secondary and the chemical secretion or brain signal becomes primary.

Take for example, depression; for long it has been linked to the deficiency of two vital neurotransmitters called serotonin and dopamine. The shortage of these two chemicals goes hand in hand with depression. Antidepressants are supposed to rectify this imbalance. It is assumed that once the imbalance is corrected, the depression will disappear. People looking for genetic cause find that the brains of depressed people aren’t different from the brains of undepressed people. Their studies also indicate that the genes responsible for the secretion and regulation of neurotransmitters are the same in depressed people as they are in undepressed people.

Then there are studies to indicate that for up to 50 percent of people, the standard antidepressants offer no improvement. Other studies reveal that the placebo effect is just as effective as these medications.

All this information is fine and there is a shortage of some chemicals in the body when a person is in depression. The problem comes when it is proposed that this deficiency is the cause of depression. This line of thinking leads to antidepressants which are supposed to restore the balance. This whole line of reasoning emerges due to the underlying assumption that the brain is somehow an isolated and independent entity and operates on its own. What is missing here is the mind and its experiences. This is the basic problem with today’s research: it equats the brain with the mind.

We just can’t ignore the fact that our mind is a rich, alive and constantly changing reality inside us, so what if there is no meat or flesh in the body with the label “mind.” The true nature of mind is known to the meditators and spiritual beings for ages. Turning a blind eye towards this rich knowledge is everything but wisdom and reinventing the wheel which is already distorted. The brain is at best a lump of meat with proteins, sugar and water in it. The brain along with the billions of neurons is a vehicle for the mind and it does what the mind wants. Thinking that the brain is mind is a drastic mistake.

There are numerous experiences that can precipitate the condition of depression and when the situation improves the depression disappears. We don’t need research to tell that there are numerous conditions that can invite depression: grief, physical illness, an accident or sudden shock, severe insecurity, low self esteem, harmful beliefs leading to guilt or shame, living in the company of depressed people, and so on.

The mind is faced with the complex experiences in life, and when overwhelmed by negative experiences it may get buried under depression. If you are suddenly told that you’ve just been fired, it’s not your brain that will make you depressed. It’s the sudden jolt of bad news that puts you into depression. People have different ways of handling such events; many would soon come out of the gloom and others may take much longer. It is pure common sense to say that people with low self-esteem and low confidence are more prone to depression, of course studies also corroborate it.

Depression or any other condition has another dimension, that of the responses and habits. We respond to situations of life by being depressed; once learned it may reinforce itself and turns into a habit. This is not different from the case of addictions; in both cases we are trapped and soon begin to respond by saying, “I can’t help it, it’s me, it’s my way.”

It is certainly true that the habitual responses form neural pathways that constantly reinforce the same depressed reaction. These are like ruts on the road in which a vehicle falls automatically. We can’t say that the road made these ruts. Likewise, it is not the brain that made the ruts, the mind did.

my needsOn the role of the antidepressants, millions of people can testify that antidepressants have relieved their suffering and severe depression requires medical attention. Of course, it is no use talking about the side effects of medications or drug tolerance, which causes a medicine to become less effective over time, because they are taken for granted (and also that you pay for it!). However, the numerous cases where antidepressants did not help, point to a wider picture that can’t be ignored. These contradictions arose because the role of the mind was ignored in the research.

Finally, it is unrealistic to believe that the world is going to abandon a belief system that puts materialism ahead of everything else. But discounting the mind while referring everything to the brain is a folly. It defies common sense experience that tells that antidepressants only relieve symptoms; in fact, they were never a cure.

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It’s Better to Have a Mind Than a Brain

yellow flower 1You talk about depression and people start citing studies on the brain. In fact, whenever you talk about emotional or mental issues people start talking about brain. Because it perfectly suits our materialistic beliefs, after all we live in an utterly materialistic society; if something has an existence it must have a material proof. This is the reason why things like mind and consciousness have remained outside of the confines of “science.” Brain is the closest milepost science can reach. Consequently, science and the scientific community act as if the mind is a fiction, something like a soul or god. But the fact is: what shape your life takes depends a great deal on how you use your mind, and very little on whether or not you miss mind for the brain.

When researchers correlate depression with the presence or absence of some chemical secretions and claim that they have found the root cause of it, it is illusory. It is as if you point to a TV and declare, “See, this box is responsible for the picture and sound. Let’s forget the nonsense of channels and broadcasting.”

Why it’s important to put the mind in the picture

The TV box only presents whatever is transmitted from the studios. Likewise, the brain only conveys, through the activities of neurons and their impact on chemical secretions,  whatever the mind brings into reality. If the TV set is thrashed, the picture vanishes. If the tissues of the brain get sick or damaged, some feature of mind will disappear. The brain, along with billions of neurons covering every square inch (or shall I say every square nanometer) of the physical body, in only an apparatus, a medium for the mind to operate. It is the mind that has the faculty of consciousness which is the live force in the body as well as in the universe. Therefore, to equate the brain with the mind is simply to much  oversimplification of the reality. The complete picture is obtained only when we go beyond what the brain signals say.

The mind is kept out of the picture for only one reason: it simplifies the picture. But it also leads to erroneous conclusions. There are tools that can transform any emotional experience into some electrical signals or chemical secretions and produce numbers and handy data. There is of course knowledge hidden in the data, but asserting that the numbers are the reality or that the emotional experience is an illusion, is misleading.

So what can be done about it?

What is needed is the realization that science has a boundary and going beyond it. It must be realized that “what is science” is not the ultimate truth; it is merely conclusions drawn after number crunching. And also that science is badly handicapped dealing with non material things like mind or spirituality. The danger of distortion is very real. For instance, look what happened when genetics was allowed to interfere with spirituality; it generated a sense of futility and emptiness in life.

Sooner or later people will say the right things: mind is primary and the brain is secondary. It is the primary that holds the essence of truth, not the secondary.

It is more logical to assert that the brain is the child of mind or consciousness. The commonplace belief in science that the human brain evolved through random mutations appears highly unlikely. The human brain is the single most complex structure in the universe and to assert that it was created through some random phenomenon is more unlikely than the probability of my pet dog being able to solve middle school algebra.

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Why Letting Go is So Difficult

Letting go means freedom

Letting go means freedom

If you let go a little, you will have a little peace. If you let go a lot, you will have a lot of peace. – Ajahn Chah

Letting go is difficult. It is against our habitual tendencies; against what we have grown up learning. We may not openly admit it but it always appears counter intuitive and hence unnatural. We feel as if letting go (without getting even) is somehow belittling ourselves, it will make us smaller than what we think we are. Often we hold on to past events so that we can offer the most fitting response if it were to occur again.

Past wounds often turn into a refuse, particularly when there is nothing exciting at present. Since the mind doesn’t not find anything interesting to occupy itself in the present, it automatically falls back to memories of the past to keep itself busy. This is how the past keeps us occupied, and kills the present.

Letting go is difficult because emotions are involved. Emotional involvement is always binding; it keeps us glued to situations, people and memories. Emotions keep us tied down and make our efforts to live “in the here and now” difficult. We know in the mind that we must let go and move on with life, but doing so involves ignoring the pull of the emotions which is difficult. When painful memories surface we react with aversion and try to escape and when joyous moments of the past appear on the mental plane we instinctly try to hold on to them. This is the habit pattern of our “normal mind.” Therefore, any effort to let go appears unnatural and unreal, although we know it to be the right thing to do. Another truth: when we hang on to the past, our thinking in the present gets clouded.

Letting go is difficult because we confuse letting go with forgetting or ignoring that the painful event happened in the past. Trying to develop a selective amnesia is not letting go. It is like standing in front of a wall pretending it does not exist. This is going into a denial mode. What we really need is to be able to look at the past; without allowing it to influence the present. Letting go means that the past does not shape my actions today.

Letting go is difficult because we are impatient. We don’t understand that it takes time to change the mental tendencies and conditioned habit patterns. Quite often when we are feeling strong we “fix” our thinking and conclude that we have finally let go of some past pain. However, the pain resurfaces when we are not with the “fixed” thinking pattern. This brings a sense of defeat. When it happens several times we end up concluding that it is really not possible to let go. But if we don’t up we soon come to realize that letting go is a process; we must keep our alert and keep trying it each time we fall back. What is equally true is that our each new effort progressively reduces the intensity of pain. This is the process of healing; which is an ongoing affair.

Letting go is a growing experience. If we continue to resist letting go; we are not fully living in the present; and hence, not growing. If the road is bumpy, our ride is going to be bumpy; whether we like it or not. Letting go is accepting the fact that we can’t always have a smooth ride. Letting go is accepting pain as pain, frustration as frustration, and dissatisfaction as dissatisfaction, but not allowing them to hold us back and move on. The unpleasant won’t become pleasant but despite that, moving on is where the focus should be. This is really letting go; it is not a one time affair but a process. Maintaining the continuity of this process is very important which is healing and liberating.

5 Things to Let Go and Feel Free

How Can I Come out of Limited Living

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Self Pity: 5 Steps to Come Out of Victim Mindset

Meet Mr Victim!!

“Self-pity is easily the most destructive of the non-pharmaceutical narcotics; it is addictive, gives momentary pleasure and separates the victim from reality.” – John W. Gardner

sad depresssedFor an evergreen victim, slightest disturbances set into motion the well familiar sinking feeling and the typical thinking that he has little or no control over his life. If his highly sensitive mental antenna senses even traces of disapproval by anyone around it implies only one thing: that the whole world is against him and he is utterly without defense. Feelings of sadness, low-ness, and depression are always lurking nearby to possess the wonderful victim at any time, 24X7. Experts can assign several innovative sequences of alphabets to these symptoms that often only reinforce the self-declared conviction of being a permanent victim, without curing the roots of the decaying tree.

This may be somewhat an exaggeration of the emotional status of a person with the victim’s mindset who habitually indulges in self pity, but he lives in a house with walls of pessimism and windows of hopelessness, and is under constant bombardment of his negative mental radio.

Mr Victim is the best example of the power of thoughts – on the negative side though.

Why People Indulge in Self Pity?

depressionLike any other habit or tendency, self-pity or victim mindset is also a self protective behavior. It offers certain advantages; the longer these benefits are enjoyed the stronger the tendency of self pity becomes. Basically, the person finds security in this self-deprecating behavior. When reinforced by others’ reactions, the victim mindset makes a strong enough dwelling in the headspace of Mr Victim. An observation of the mental chatter of the victim will make these issues crystal clear.

So, what are the rewards for this non-assertive and self-degrading behavior?

Gets Sympathy

People around become rather concerned about the well being of the “poor victim”; so the person receives extra attention and validation. It makes the person feel cared for and feels comfortable in this role. This often makes him averse to risk taking which also protects from probable rejection or failure.

Protection against Taking Responsibility

Since he hardly does anything other than playing the victim, no one expects any sense of responsibility for whatever he does. This makes him to get away without making any hard decision. This evasion of responsibility is soothing in the short term; of course, pretty harmful in the long run.

He is Always Right!

Since he takes no action and stays away from taking initiatives, if anything goes wrong the fault always lies with the other persons. And as a corollary, he is always right. This convoluted thinking further reinforces the victim mindset.

So how can he move out of this mindset?

1. Accept the Reality

Becoming aware of the comfort zone created by the victim’s mindset and realizing the trivial (and disparaging) advantages it offers, are the first steps towards coming out of the self pity mode or victim mindset. The conscious awareness of the deceptive benefits of victim-thinking makes it easy to decide on a correcting behavior pattern.

This acceptance also allows the person to accept himself as he is. This paves the way for change and fresh thinking. It brings into open the disadvantages of easy-escape by evading risks and responsibility and focuses on the likely larger benefits of taking emotional risks and being responsible for one’s life.

2. Decide to Not Play Victim

Giving up the victim’s benefits necessarily involves taking risks. In practical terms in means taking decisions and asserting oneself. It is certainly going to feel insecure and threatening initially but with determination and consistent practice the level of discomfort would gradually diminish, and finally vanish.

Remember: Feeling shaky or fearful are not necessarily signs of any imminent danger. There is a very popular advice – feel the fear and do it anyway! This is real bravery: feeling the fear and doing what needs to be done!

It will also involve dealing the past painful memories of hurt or insult. Since already a significant time has gone, it is now better to offer new reactions to the triggers from the past. This may not appear familiar, but was the victim-behavior familiar when it first started?

3. Start Taking Risks

risk-takingProbably the basic reason how the victim behavior started was some situation or incident when you felt totally terrified and helpless in dealing with it and began blaming someone else under overwhelming emotions. This is how most tendencies of self pity or low self esteem germinate. When we blame others, we essentially give up control; it is like handing over power to the other person.

The correct response would be: accepting the hurt (which is a reality) and devising ways to come up with a different response if that incident were to reoccur in future. But we can’t always remain so objective or so skillful. After all we are fragile humans!

Perhaps the best way to create a victim mindset is to start blaming others for every bad thing happening around us. The tendency to blame others also has a tendency to boomerang – in the form of self pity!! It creates a double illusion: first, that the other person is too strong for you, and second, I am no more than a helpless and defenseless tiny creature. By blaming, you only empower the other person – to your own disadvantage. This is the non-intuitive truth of interpersonal relations.

This will damage many vital things in life, such as relationships and personal achievements.

So, the moral of this section is: Take responsibility of all your feelings – even if they are most humiliating or excruciating. Don’t you think it is simply illogical to blame someone else for what is going on inside my headspace?

When you are responsible for whatever you decide and do, your need for external validation, approval, or praise reduces because you are now action oriented and derive satisfaction in it. This fuels your life with positive emotions no matter what other people say or do around you.

4. Become Extrovert

When you find yourself overpowered, as it were, by melancholy, the best way is to go out and do something. – John Keble
Sympathy is never wasted except when you give it to yourself. – John W. Raper

extrovertIntroversion is the trademark sign of people struggling with self pity, low self-esteem, or victim mentality. Therefore, turning attention outward is a therapeutic thing. When anyone gets entangled in thoughts and feelings, the best thing is to try to focus elsewhere. The hurdle comes from the fact that he doesn’t feel like doing it.

So what is the easiest way to turn attention outward? The answer is simple: help other people!

Someone has rightly said: “if you can’t help yourself, start helping others!’ And it always works!!

Additionally, it makes you realize that you are not the only person with difficulties; there are many others who can easily beat you in this contest! When you realize this, you tend to downplay your own suffering. I am sure you would not complain now despite losing the competition!!

Then another funny thing begins to happen: When you try to comfort others, it has a healing touch on you – sort of positive side-effect.  Any complains now?

“When you are kind and helpful to other people, you are actually being kind and helpful to yourself. The more you love others, the more you love yourself.”

It will help tremendously if you permanently carve these words in your mind.

What to do when you are Feeling Empty and Useless

5. Learn to Forgive

forgiveness QUOTEThe next step towards losing your victim-hood is practicing forgiveness. It is certainly difficult to forgive those whom we have blamed for years for our miseries. It becomes still harder because of the misunderstandings around the concept of forgiveness. So, consider the following three facts carefully:

First, get it straight that you don’t forgive people for them, but you do it for you. This is probably the most selfish act because you make it absolutely in your own interest.

Second, you want to forgive because you want to come out of the chronic negative emotions of resentment and hatred which constantly suck your vitality.

Third, it is basically an act of letting go – of harmful feelings, in order to create a bigger and healthy emotional space for you to evolve.

To make things still clearer, I quote a wiser person than me:

“When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.” – Catherine Ponder

Therefore, you are the biggest gainer of the act of forgiveness.

The feelings of resentment and ill-will act like invisible strings that connect you with the person you actually want to stay away from. As long as this emotional link is not broken (and forgiving is the surgical knife to do that!) you will stay connected with that person, and consequently with the pain and anguish. This is probably more than that person ever wanted – you have made a jerk the most important person in your life!!

Therefore, the best way to teach that person a lesson is to FORGIVE him and show him his right place!! More than anything else, forgiving is a DECISION; you take this decision in your own best interest.

Take your time and think about this counter intuitive logic and make the right decision.

Keep Life Simple: Be Selfish and Forgive

Self-Pity Quotes

What poison is to food, self-pity is to life. – Oliver C. Wilson
It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it. – Lena Home
The human mind can bear plenty of reality, but not too much un-intermittent gloom. – Margaret Drabble
It’s all right to sit on your pity pot every now and again. Just be sure to flush when you are finished. – Debbie Macomber
Your distress about life might mean you have been living for the wrong reason, not that you have no reason for living. – Tom O’Connor
Self-pity in its early stages is as snug as a feather mattress. Only when it hardens does it become uncomfortable. – Maya Angelou
It’s odd that you can get so anesthetized by your own pain or your own problem that you don’t quite fully share the hell of someone close to you. – Lady Bird Johnson
Self-pity is a death that has no resurrection, a sinkhole from which no rescuing hand can drag you because you have chosen to sink. – Elizabeth Elliot
The secret of being miserable is to have leisure to bother about whether you are happy or not. The cure for it is occupation. – George Bernard Shaw

Lessons from Chess: How to Survive the Rock Bottom of Life

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Do You have a Balanced Life?

Why we are Never at Peace with Ourselves?

How often do we wish to be more peaceful and more in control of our lives? Do we ever stop to think why are we running around all the time and still don’t seem to get what we deserve? What stops us from realizing our true potential?

The truth is: we need a balanced mind when we have to make important decisions, or when we want to get over some painful things from the past, or when we want to resolve some unfinished issues. In fact, the only way to succeed in a sustainable manner is through a balanced mind. You can drive yourself crazy or work like a maniac and may succeed in achieving something, but rest assured it is not going to work for long. And when it doesn’t, you are sure to go nuts.

I discovered it from painful experience few years ago when I was only working long hours – and of course, getting tired continuously. I must admit I had been a workaholic most of my life and always relished the pleasure of doing everything to perfection. In fact, I was a proud perfectionist too. A deceptive mental disease! I guess.

Had I not landed up in severe chronic frustration and depression, I probably would have never realized the dangers of addictions to work and perfection. Thankfully, the endless mental and physical pains forced me to take a stock of my life and bring elements of sanity in it.

Bring Balance in Life

balanceHow long can anyone give 12 – 15 hours daily to work? Not forever. Because, if you do that you are sure missing many other things in life, such as good health, relaxed mind, and harmonious relations. It is like eating pancake all the time! So what I learned was: addiction (even to work) is bad and is a sign of personal weakness. Unfortunately workplaces encourage this tendency and make our lives unbalanced; the result is stress and constant fatigue.

Remedy? Make sure that you are not putting in more than 8 hours a day to work and take two days off a week. There is nothing wrong if you make less money. There is a crucial lesson here: Money earned at the cost of health ultimately ends up with the doctor!

These are my way of practical steps to keep life balanced and under control.

1.  Resolve Unfinished Personal Issues

In my experience, the biggest source of anxieties and tension is the unfinished issues. These are conflicts in personal relations which spill over to professional life. When personal relations are not harmonious people tend to take satisfaction from work and achievements. If for some reason it does not happen life becomes further complicated and stressful. Balance between the life at the workplace and home is really an important issue; happiness and peace can only follow afterwards.

All unresolved issues feed mental chatter that fuels stress and anxiety, keeping you constantly on edge. Please read: Are You a Victim of the Obsessive Mental Chatter

2.  Tame Your Silly Ego

“Ego has a voracious appetite, the more you feed it the hungrier it gets.” – Nathaniel Bronner, Jr

“Avoid having your ego so close to your position that when your position falls, your ego goes with it.” Colin Powell

secrets_to_life_tame_your_egoThe ego is like a wild horse. If you tame it and learn to keep it under control it will do no harm. The moment you begin to pamper it, it will tame you and soon takes control of your life – and you might not realize it. Nothing is more poisonous to interpersonal relations than a brazenly displayed ego. Whenever you put other people down or step on their toes, it is proof enough you are no more a dignified person but are a mere slave to your ego. There is nothing to be cocky about that. Ego is not a sign of strength it is a sure sign of weakness – think about it.

Being modest and humble means being who you are, a quality all great people have. Wise people say: Height of the ego is directly related to the smallness of the person.

3.  Live in the present

present momentThe only place for you to live is the present moment. Yet, most of the time you ruminate on the past or worry about the future; as a result, you are wasting the present time. Living in the present does not mean that you throw away your past and completely ignore your future. It means that you are facing the realities of your life right now and feeling grateful for what you have today.

Did you ever hear about a guy who was always busy working so that he can retire at 60 and live happily thereafter. He did achieve a lot spending sleepless lights and working like a maniac. He finally died of a heart attack at 40. In 40 years he never realized what inner peace was. Do you think he actually LIVED a life?

12 Ways to Describe Mindfulness for the Beginners

4.  Live in a Clean Environment

Ever heard of mental pollution? Have you ever realized how much toxic waste your mind is accumulating daily?

You probably have never heard such questions because no one asks them. You must have only heard of global pollution and how that has changed the climate but never bothered to find out how good your inner climate is. A polluted mind can never realize or enjoy inner peace.

Remember: For every minute you are restless, you give up sixty seconds of peace of mind.

Everything affects your mind – the company you keep, the people you talk to, how you earn money (do you cheat?) and what you watch on TV. The last one is perhaps the most dependable source of mental pollution – it generally spreads only negativity by focusing on violence, crimes and conflicts besides fueling your greed through endless commercial advertisements. Nobody knows why news has to be always negative but that is what the media does all the time. Someone kills once and the media reports it a thousand times, filling your mind with suspicion and fear. There are people who are media addict. You can be sure that they have turned their minds into junk yards; have no room for peace of mind.

Therefore, at least once a week stay away from media and use that time for filling the mind with thoughts of strength, love, peace and harmony. Practice generosity by helping weak, disabled, or poor. Helping others is the best way to grow inner strength provided you help with humility and not with egoistic thoughts.

You may also like to read:

What to do When You are Feeling Empty and Useless?
Forgiveness is Difficult, That’s Why We must Practice it!

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Why We Don’t Feel Happy and Satisfied

The Elusive Happiness

What everyone wants from life is continuous and genuine happiness. – Baruch Spinoza

sereneWhy is it that happiness always eludes us? Why we never experience inner peace and if we do why it vanishes soon? We often end up accumulating a lot of money and comforts; yet we hardly ever feel satisfied with life. The so-called normal living is unsatisfactory; it only offers momentary pleasures and never any meaningful lasting sense of satisfaction and joy within. Why? We all run around and work hard, but somehow never seem to get any long lasting happiness and sense of satisfaction. Therefore, what is it that we are missing or confused about?

This is the basic quest of this piece.

Do You Really Know “Who You Are?”

who-am-iThis fundamental question has occupied inquisitive human minds for ages. Great minds have given various understandings of how a person should take him or her self. Leaving the differences aside, we can easily come to the conclusion that a person is made up of two entities:

1. Body and
2. Life-force (Myself, Self, Consciousness, Life, Soul or Spirit). This distinction exists in every “living person.”

It is easy to understand that a “dead body” has no “Life”.
[In any case, a “dead person” doesn’t have to worry about silly things like inner peace and satisfaction! It is just like a log of wood which can be simply buried, burnt, or thrown into water and it does not get up to protest or protect itself! At least that is my understanding of dead people!!]

The reason why I am trying to distinguish between the two will become clear as we go along.

There is no dispute that we all have a body – we all can see it and know that it is made up of flesh, bones, tissues, and blood. Researchers and medical experts are always busy finding newer chemicals in the human body, then they correlate them with some new disease, make another chemical to treat it, and of course make money.

However, there may be some disagreement on the second part: Life-force. People, particularly spiritual and psychologists, have given various names to this second component and have different concepts and ideas about it, but even that is irrelevant for this article. It serves our purpose as long as we agree that any human being is the symbiotic sum of “body” and “Life-force”.

My Proposition

“Now I propose that not knowing this basic separation is the root cause of human suffering. This leads to Identity Crisis, which is the basic reason why real happiness eludes us.”

Want to find out, how? Please bear with me through the following analysis.

Identity Crisis!

“All I ask for is an opportunity to prove that money doesn’t buy happiness.” – Anonymous 

man_question_markMost of us assume that the “my body” and “me” (or “myself”) are just one and the same thing and go about working hard to be happy. In today’s materialistic social culture, all we do is make as much money as we can and then use it to acquire various things and facilities that we desire (or media commercials made us to desire!). When we have a lot of money we buy a lot of things; and when we have less (or no money) money we become miserable, almost robotically. And this is precisely what we are busy doing all the time. So, what is the problem?

In order to understand this, we need to figure out what satisfies the two entities – the “body” and “Life-force” (or “myself”).

Body’s needs are simple, limited, and easy to meet. It needs limited amounts of food, water, and air for its sustenance. It needs a continuous supply of air for breathing but food and water only at intervals. Its communication is also simple: hunger is the signal to eat and thirst for water. In a nutshell, as long as the body gets regular nourishment it has no complaints – plain and simple.

Abuse of Body

However, the problem is that we have the habit of making things complicated; we just can’t stand simplicity. Just talk to people who stuff their bodies all the time and then complain of weight and other health problems! And the reason: They don’t care what the body needs, they are only concerned with satisfying the “taste craving” of the tongue. What and how much they eat or drink is dictated by less than a quarter pound tongue, not the 120 pound body which has to digest whatever is forced inside and then eliminate the waste. It is fair to say that we live to eat; not we eat to live.

It is nothing but blatant abuse of the body, in the broad daylight! A lot of people even inject drugs and chemicals into their bodies or inhale tobacco smoke to “get high.” Your “body” does not require such absolutely unhealthy things, but is ironically helpless to defend itself against such abusive practices. All it needs is healthy food, water, and air; and that too in limited quantities.

I wonder why no champion of human rights has ever raised his/her voice against the widespread practice of stuffing human bodies with junk food and harmful substances!!

The “life-force” or “myself” does not require material things. It has needs but they are not tangible and are non-material. It is here that the confusion arises. We will come to the needs of this “self” later but let us see why we tend to get identified with the body and ignore the needs of this “life-force” or “myself” which is which is at the core of our unhappiness.

Sense Faculties: The Real Culprits

As hinted above, the real culprits are our “sense organs” – the faculties of taste, smell, feel, sight, and sound. They provide various sensations that lead us to sense pleasures. The sensations can be traps, particularly when they are pleasant, and lead us on the path of over-indulgence. Since all the senses are connected to the body, we come to the erroneous conclusion that we are nothing but the “body” only. Besides, over-indulgence in the sense-pleasures is a dominant reason for most of our pains and dissatisfactions.

In reality, all the five sense organs exist for just two basic reasons: 1. to protect the body from harm and 2. to enable the body to function properly and efficiently. But as things stand, we devise ways to abuse them for short term pleasure. Meditators and Yogis are generally clear about this pitfall and how sense-faculties create the impression that we are nothing but the “body” only. They can easily see the hollowness of sense-pleasures because they are short lived and ever-changing.

Therefore, we have acquired the bad habit of giving in to sense pleasures at the cost of body’s well being. This is the real problem.

What are the Needs of the “Myself”

my needsThe needs of the “Myself” or “I” are very different; they are also continuous and they are based on mental states. These are mental/emotional needs – need for love, trust, respect, and security (freedom from fear). Happiness is a mental state. It includes a sense of personal safety, contentment, and assurance of trustful interactions. It also includes the feelings of being respected, loved, and cared-for. All these necessarily imply predictable and positive behavior.

In brief, “myself” needs share-and-care; hence, is interpersonal. It is only possible through proper relations with others. Now you see why humans are called social-beings. The concept of individualism has been taken to extreme in many societies which has deprived the nourishment of “self” by underplaying relationships.

Clearly, these can never be met by running after sense pleasures or through material accumulations. What we foolishly do is to try to sustain the sense pleasures – which are by nature transitory and unsustainable –  through constant indulgence.

To make the point clear, let me ask you something. Suppose you are really fond of, say pizza, ice-cream, or even sex. Can you keep eating pizza or ice-cream, or indulge in sex non-stop endlessly? Certainly not. Sooner than later you get fed up – and can’t continue any longer. Such a “pleasure” is obviously non-sustainable and you are now back to where you started. Additionally, as you get older your sense organs become weaker, so would be the pleasure coming from them.

This is why you can’t be permanently happy chasing sense-pleasures expecting lasting happiness.

Finally, the Formula for Real Happiness!

white flower happiness quoteIf I have to be happy, I must satisfy the needs of both my-body and myself. Money and material facilities can only provide nourishment and comfort to the body and can hardly do any thing about the mental needs. It is erroneous to think that greater physical comforts alone can provide mental happiness which also crucially depend upon the relationships I have with others – in the family and society. That in turn depends on my own conduct – my behavior, beliefs and attitudes. When relationships repeatedly become difficult, many people take to spiritualism in the hope that it will ultimately make them happier. However, what spirituality does is to correct your faulty materialistic attitude towards life.

In many ways, materialism and spiritualism are two extremes. An ordinary person would do well if he realistically makes efforts to meet the needs of both his-body and his-self, which are different, and stays away from over-indulgence in sense pleasures. The body is just a vehicle or a home for the “self” or the “life-force” to live in – accept it that way. A healthy well-nourished body and skills to create an atmosphere of trust and respect can create a life where happiness becomes not only infectious but also multiplies. All that is needed is the right understanding of “who I am” and the different needs of the body and the self.

I just hope that I was able to convey the basic message that sense pleasures alone based on material possessions are not sufficient to find deep satisfaction in life. Emotional needs require healthy attitude and trusting relations with others around us. The following quotes provide further food for thought to develop right attitude about life.

Happiness Quotes

Moderation. Small helpings. Sample a little bit of everything. These are the secrets of happiness and good health. – Julia Child
A table, a chair, a bowl of fruit and a violin; what else does a man need to be happy? – Albert Einstein
Gratitude is one of the sweet shortcuts to finding peace of mind and happiness inside. No matter what is going on outside of us, there’s always something we could be grateful for. – Barry Neil Kaufman
The supreme happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved. – Victor Hugo
Happiness is a perfume you cannot pour on others without getting a few drops on yourself. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion. – Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama
Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful. – Albert Schweitzer
There is a wonderful mythical law of nature that the three things we crave most in life – happiness, freedom, and peace of mind – are always attained by giving them to someone else. – Peyton Conway March
The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance, the wise grows it under his feet. – James Oppenheim
“Remember happiness doesn’t depend upon who you are or what you have; it depends solely on what you think.” – Dale Carnegie
Happiness is not a station you arrive at, but a manner of traveling. – Margaret Lee Runbeck
Success is getting what you want; happiness is wanting what you get. – Dale Carnegie

Reading Further

How to Transform a Judgmental Mind into a Discerning Mind

Keep Life Simple: Be Selfish and Forgive

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Integrating the Brain with Meditation

Is Your Brain Fragmented?

It is a well-known fact that how we think affects everything we do in life – health, wealth, relationships, and achievements. Successful people are positive thinkers and they have positive states of mind. In contrast, most ordinary people remain grooved in a cycle of negative thinking and beliefs. This they take as “normal” state of their mind. However, in reality negative thinking and attitudes reflect a feeble mind – a mind that is not well developed or is fragmented. This is the status of people whose brains are highly lateralized, ie, dominated by either left or the right brain hemisphere.

On the contrary, people with well-developed mind have their brain hemispheres well integrated operating as an integrated whole unit. This automatically facilitates a balanced and clear thinking. A person with synchronized brain hemispheres is unlikely to fall prey to negative thinking, pessimism, or depression.

Do You Use or Abuse Your Brain?

Most people use their brain in a lop-sided manner – they either use more of their left or the right hemisphere. This is a chronic state called brain lateralization. This imbalance creates a reality filter that deprives much of life’s richness, a primary cause of unhappiness. When the brain hemispheres function out of sync it leads to diminishing energy, awareness, and joy.

The good news is: it is possible to rectify this hemispheric imbalance. The hemispheres are synchronized when they begin to work together, communicate faster, and resonate at the same frequencies. When this happens, new neural connections form between the two hemispheres, resulting in what is called whole brain functioning. In fact, such synchronization is present at times of intense clarity, creativity, joyful inspirations, and peak performance. These incredible happenings have been observed on electroencephalograph (EEG) recordings. The conclusion is:

Whole Brain is certainly Better Than Two Halves!

Meditation Unifies All Parts of the Brain

FlowerMeditation has been the traditional method of facilitating brain hemispheric integration. Accessing deeper states of consciousness and lowering brainwave frequencies directly correlate with higher levels of whole brain functioning. As meditation progresses, the brainwave patterns progressively move from the general waking state of beta wave to alpha (alert and relaxed state) to Theta (creativity and healing) to finally to Delta (formless meditation) state.

Meditation is no longer an obscure practice and more and more people are learning it and injecting inner peace and balance in their lives. For example, Vipassana (mindfulness) meditation has become popular throughout the world.  People who can not find much time take recourse to lessons and instructions in digital forms. There is a novel way to meditate: in the form of brainwave entrainment audios for people who think that they don’t have much mental discipline to learn meditation in the regular way.

Research has established that during deep meditation, blood flow to the frontal lobe and parietal lobe is reduced. The frontal lobe is the seat of our intellect, reasoning power and thinking; it enables us to plan and anticipate the future. It is here that human emotions like guilt, pride, sympathy, wonder, and compassion and generated. On the other hand, the parietal lobe processes the sensory data from the external world and connects us to the surroundings. It is also responsible for our sense of time and space. Under stress, both the frontal and parietal lobes operate in frantic pace or in fight-or-flight mode.

During deep meditation, the activities of the frontal lobe and the parietal lobe are practically stopped and the sensory signals from them, which cause anxieties and stress, are not transmitted to other parts of the brain, including those responsible for primary emotions of fear, sadness, anger, and aggressiveness. The deactivation of the parietal lobe detaches the meditators from the sense of time and space or the external world and induces a feeling of timelessness and oneness without any boundaries. The deactivation of frontal lobe results in dissipating worries and anxieties as well as the “me-ness” with its psychological baggage, which is bothersome and nagging. All these factors bring about deep tranquility of mind. This is the situation when we have “whole brain functioning.”

How to Learn Mindfulness Effectively

Brainwave Entrainment Audios for Meditation

program_your_mindBrainwave audios provides ordinary people the opportunity to experience the entire range of mental states and convert their highly lopsided or lateralized brain into an integrated single entity functioning as a whole. Using brainwave audios for relaxation is becoming quite common now – given the stressful life we lead. There are several other ways to get benefits from this technology as indicated in the references at the end of the article.

Brainwave entrainment recordings allow anyone to meditate simply by playing the audio. These audios have brainwave entrainment beats that can take the brain to brainwave states conducive to deeper meditation. The more a person meditates using the recordings the more his or her brain will heal from a state of fragmentation to wholeness. It results in clearer thinking, deeper feelings, and integrated functioning from a higher state frequency consciousness.

Read Further

Top 6 Benefits of Brainwave Entrainment

Feeling Stuck? You Need to Break the Barriers Holding You Back 

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