What to do When You are Feeling Empty and Useless?

Few of us are immune to the frustrations and weariness of daily life—tense relationships, health troubles, conflicts at work, constantly worrying about money, etc. However, don’t be surprised if you are depressed or stressed out and some researchers suggest something different from what you are used to so far – medication or therapy. Researchers are rediscovering value in the ancient wisdom of being kind to others and caring for others. You may be asked to follow a simple time tested principle that may be part of both the prevention and the cure: “Help Others to Help Yourself.”

Once when I was in a very bad shape, someone advised me: “If you can’t help yourself, help others.” I could not understand, but followed the advise and it appeared to work. There is already plenty of research to suggest that people who are helpful to others are more likely to be happy and satisfied with their lives—and consequently, less likely to be depressed or stressed. Could helping others be the key to weathering unpredictable storms of life? Probably Yes.

Feel Good Brain Chemicals

random-acts-of-kindness-day1Numerous studies have found that happy people are more helpful. Those who’ve just found sudden help are more likely to help someone else in need. Researchers are also looking for biochemical explanation for the positive emotions associated with doing good.

In a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, participants’ brains were monitored by MRI scans while they made decisions about donating part of their research payment to charitable organizations. When participants chose to donate money, the brain’s mesolimbic system was activated – part of the brain that is activated in response to positive stimuli, sex, or monetary rewards, etc. Choosing to donate also activated the brain’s sub-genual area, the part of the brain that produces feel-good chemicals, like oxytocin that promotes social bonding.

Why Doing Good Works

kindness 3Since depression, anxiety, and stress involve a high degree of self-centered-ness focusing on the needs of others diverts that thinking. It is also a common experience that receiving compassion, benevolence, and kindness help us come out of the negative emotions. One of the best ways to overcome stress is to do something to help others.

Even better, feeling good and doing good can combine to create a positive feedback loop, where doing good helps us to feel good and feeling good encourages us to further help people. This is generally observed with meditators. Since meditation is basically a cleansing activity, a mind cleared of negative emotions is automatically more tuned to exhibit positive emotions. If you don’t believe me ask any Vipassana meditator who practices loving kindness.

Help Others to Help Yourself

kindness 2Incorporating kindness and compassion for others into your daily life isn’t very difficult. Here are five easy things you can do to help others—and in turn help yourself.

Listen More and Talk Less: Merely listening mindfully and sympathetically often does wonders. It makes people feel heard, cared for, and loved. Don’t just listen to the spoken words, but also be attentive to what they want to and are trying to convey. Many people can’t tell clearly what they have in mind – help them with words. Look for lonely or neglected people (there are plenty) around you and let them unload their minds.

Put on a Smiling Face: Smile is contagious and it puts other people at ease. Develop the habit if first putting on a cordial smile and then talk. Smile creates an atmosphere of cordiality and trust where everyone can talk openly.

Donate. You don’t need a lot of money to do that – your mental volition is more important that the quantum of the amount. Start by giving away clothes you are unlikely to use. Buy tickets of charity shows and look for other opportunities where you can contribute. The act of donation is ideal to reduce greed and temptations; hence, it is considered a wholesome trait on the path of spirituality. Donate some “time” and read for the blinds!

Help people: Find time to visit people who are sick, offer a ride to someone who does not own a car, lend a needed tool, feed pets for neighbors on vacation, pass on information someone is looking for.

Volunteer. Search for volunteer opportunity in your area and get involved. Doing volunteer service even few hours a week can be rewarding. It has been shown to reduce stress or depression.

Final Word

There is another good reason why you should be a good person, for humanity’s sake. I can’t remember who said or did not say it. But this is the most pointed and straightforward reason why you should be good.

Be good. There will be one less rascal in the world.

Kindness Quotes

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion. – Dalai Lama

A part of kindness consists in loving people more than they deserve. – Joseph Joubert

Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see. – Mark Twain

There is no need for temples, no need for complicated philosophies. My brain and my heart are my temples; my philosophy is kindness. – Dalai Lama

There is overwhelming evidence that the higher the level of self-esteem, the more likely one will be to treat others with respect, kindness and generosity. – Nathaniel Branden

If you haven’t any charity in the heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble. – Jesse Jackson

What this world needs is a new kind of army – the army of kind people. – Cleveland Amory

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The Illusion of Perception: Do We Create Our Own Reality?

Most of us are familiar with optical illusions. An optical illusion is a visual trick played on the mind using an image that is perceived in a way that is different from what it is in objective reality. Our brain processes what it sees, and fills in the gaps using the knowledge from past experiences. For example, if you read this line you can still understand the message…

“Hlelo how aer yuo doing tadoy?”

On the surface of it, this does not make sense. However the brain infers the meaning of phrase based on appearance of overall pattern of letters and spaces as seen by the eyes and fills in the gaps. The mind reads it correctly: “Hello how are you doing today?”

hypno shadow smallCheck out this shadow writing…

You can see quite clearly that it says the word “Hypno”. However half of the lines are missing that make up the letters. Your brain is quite literally filling on the missing lines. If you look carefully, you can almost see them like they are there!

Figure 1

fig1Over millions of years we have evolved to notice differences, such as movement within motionless trees, and to be sensitive to context. These abilities have been so important to our survival that it is very difficult to override them. In figure 1, the shade of green in the top half is exactly the same shade as in the bottom half. Yet they look different. If you isolate the colors with your hand or with some paper, you can see this. However your brain will still automatically perceive them as different, even when you know they are the same.

Figure 2

fig2Looking at figure 2 the second circle appears larger than the first circle because of the different contexts they are both placed in. In the first context the circle is made to appear smaller because it is dwarfed by the bigger blue circles, whereas in the second picture the circle seems bigger as you are comparing it to smaller circles.

Figure 3

Colored squares three colorsHow many different colored papers were used in these two collages? If you see four different colors – two different backgrounds and two different centers – you are correct. However, only three different hues were actually used. The small center squares were cut from exactly the same piece of paper — yet they appear different as a result of the interplay with each background.

Distorted Reality

We go about our life experiencing only a small fraction of the ‘reality’ that goes on around us. The brain fills in many aspects of what is going on based on past experiences. For example if you were attacked by a dog in your past, the brain may interpret a dog running up to you in a friendly way as an act of aggression, causing you to feel fear. However the same dog running in the same way to someone who has had loads of good experiences with dogs, will probably perceive this quite differently. They may even perceive an aggressive dog as being friendly!

Our brain organizes and constructs our own personal and unique realities. Because they are ‘our’ reality, we often believe them to be THE ‘true reality’. This can stop us from growing and learning, and changing our ways. For example some people due to a negative past experience may go through life feeling that people cannot be trusted. They will continually interpret other people’s actions as confirming this belief, further strengthening their resolve. You can literally get into a negative cycle where you look for a problem and find it, which strengthens the belief each time.

How Hypnosis Helps

Hypnosis sessions can help expand your perceptions of reality, allowing you to experience a little more of the ‘reality’ of what is around you. Hypnosis can challenge your existing views by offering your subconscious mind alternative viewpoints. This can have the effect of opening your mind to other realities, helping you to move closer to the ‘real you’, and ‘reality’ by giving you a choice of other alternatives. It can help break you from any ‘mental rut’ you are sitting in.

As said earlier, the reality you have constructed in your own mind is not the same as anyone else’s. We all have a unique perception of life. Some may perceive life as exciting, challenging, and rewarding; whereas others may perceive it as cold, cruel, and hard. Yet we live in the same world. There is an apt saying: “In this world, there are as many worlds as there are people.”

Luckily the mindset can be changed with hypnosis. For example before a dog phobia hypnotherapy session, you can show a person a picture of a dog and asked them from 1 to 10 what fear is evokes. They typically score the fear quite high: 7 – 9. After the session they still feel “normal”. However when they rate the fear from the same picture again, they may score it 2 or 3. Sometimes they even need convincing that you have not switched the pictures!

Hypnotherapy is a technique that is used to communicate with the subconscious mind. When a person is in the hypnotic trance, they are really just in a focused state of relaxation. This is similar to daydreaming or even when deeply engrossed in the TV (which is why TV advertisements can be very influential). You are sort of ‘zoned out’. It is a natural state of mind – there is nothing magical about it whatsoever.

In the hypnotic state, a good hypnotherapist can talk to the subconscious mind and convince it to change. This is far more powerful than a “conscious” conversation because all our habits and phobias reside in our “subconscious” mind. That is why a person with spider phobia can consciously agree that it is an irrational fear, but still be fearful. The subconscious mind triggers the automatic (spontaneous) fear responses, and it cannot be overridden consciously. What is needed in most cases is changing the “subconscious” mind.

Hypnotherapy achieves  quick results for confidence issues, phobias, weight loss, addictions, relationships, and many other things.

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How to Learn Mindfulness Effectively

MindfulnessInner peace, mental clarity and a profound sense of conscious presence suddenly become so much easier to achieve when you discover how to tap the real potential of mindfulness. Chronic anxiety and low self esteem become a thing of past as you feel highly motivated and energetic enough to be able to take any set back in your stride.

Have you always thought of learning meditation but are not sure where to begin?

Training yourself in the art of mindfulness is the key to reprogram your behavior pattern and cope with daily stress and anxieties effectively. It also provides the foundation for meditation.

If you are thinking that learning mindfulness will change everything around you, you are wrong. It will change you in a way that you will be in control of everything in and around you. Does it sound like some exaggerated or theoretical statement?

Relax. Mindfulness is not an academic idea; it is a practical skill like swimming that can be learned without much trouble. Let us first make the essential meaning of mindfulness crystal clear.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness cartoonOnline Oxford Dictionary defines mindfulness as

“A mental state achieved by focusing one‘s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.”

Therapeutic definition of Mindfulness

“To be aware of the full range of experiences that exists in the present moment, without judgment. This includes sensory impressions in all sensory modalities as well as emotions and thoughts including visual imagery.”

Sogyal Rinpoche (1992 p.61) The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. Sydney: Random House

“The practice of mindfulness defuses our negativity, aggression, and turbulent emotions….. Rather than suppressing emotions or indulging in them, here it is important to view them, and your thoughts, and whatever arises with an acceptance and generosity that are as open and spacious as possible.”

Speaking from practical angle, it can be described in the following way:

It is an impartial watchfulness of your thoughts, feelings and experience – without prejudice or bias. You are consciously aware of the thoughts you are thinking but don’t chase or analyze them. You are also aware of the present feelings – you just acknowledge them; don’t like or dislike them. You mentally note every experience but refrain from thinking, labeling or evaluating them. You are just a detached witness of yourself.

Mindfulness is also being ever ready to acknowledge and experience anything that comes up in the present moment. It also involves letting go, as the present moment turns past. It is observing and letting go continuously. It is a wakeful experience of life, an alert but detached participation in the ongoing process of living.

So, essentially the practice of mindfulness involves three types of mental efforts, namely

1. Being attentive to the present moment

2. Developing the attitude of a witness – an unconcerned observer

3. Willingness to let go every experience – no clinging to pleasant or running away from unpleasant

How Mindfulness Training Helps

mindfulness horseIn the so called normal living we habitually react to everything in and around us. We are ever busy thinking, analyzing, desiring, achieving, planning, scheming and so on. In fact, we are so preoccupied that we have no time to live! All our efforts involve doing rather than being.

The moment mindfulness is introduced everything changes. Conscious awareness is such a powerful tool that all habitual tendencies have to cease. Mindfulness is like a source of light and habitual activities are shadowy figures. They can’t coexist – as long as you stay with the light of mindfulness the habitual reactions must stop.

Without mindfulness you are a doer who does everything habitually – thinks, feels, decides and reacts. Mindfulness promotes you as a “witness” who merely observes without being involved. With practice, the role of “witness” takes precedence and the “doer” becomes subordinate. You begin to react less and respond more. This is a very healthy transformation.

How does mindfulness training help you respond, rather than react, to situations?

Mindfulness Leads to Distancing

waterfall_002Mindfulness makes the practitioner less identified with the contents of consciousness. In metaphorical terms it is as if you are watching the stream of consciousness rather than swimming in it and being buffeted by its eddies and currents.

As the attitude of being a witness strengthens you involvement with thoughts and feelings decreases. It separates you from what are thinking or experiencing. This distancing frees you from the tendencies of habitual reactions. Some therapists label the process of distancing as “decentering”. Now you are no longer a part of the crime! But you are now more like an unbiased reporter (hope such reporters exist on this planet!) who merely records the activities.

Distancing also helps you stay with unpleasant experiences much longer without reaction. As you keep practicing, even the intensity of unpleasantness decreases, because now you have stopped labeling anything as good or bad. Both these benefits allow you enough freedom to come up with a better response to any situation.

Do you now see how the practice of mindfulness can change you significantly? Now you are no longer a helpless puppet of outside events or situations, and not even a choice-less prisoner of your own thinking and feeling. Now you are really a free person – free to respond, if you wish to, in a manner of your own conscious choice. This is true freedom and true liberty!!

How to Master the Art of Mindfulness

The traditional approach is to go for mindfulness meditation that is also called Vipassana (or insight) meditation. Chopra Center is a reputed place to explore this beautiful art if you live close to … or are willing to travel and join a meditation retreat. They also offer several other things ideal for any spiritual seeker.

Warning!: Mindfulness is a simple concept; in fact, too simple! But don’t be misled by its simplicity. It is a little secret that can unleash the process of self transformation, provided you give it an honest try.

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Forgiveness is Difficult, That’s Why We must Practice it!

Discomforts in Life

claret-cup-cactusIt is impossible to live without being hurt, offended, misunderstood, or lied to. Aggression, insensitivity, and betrayal can take numerous forms and hurt us in unexpected ways and at unexpected times. Many of these events leave us with resentment and anger and we find ourselves ruminating. We even hold grudges against people who are even alive anymore. What is this thing called grudge? It is harboring ill feelings and a desire to get even.

Learning how not to get affected by these happenings is learning the basic art of living. It is easier said than done; we all know that. Forgiving is probably the most difficult emotional task. It basically means wiping the slate clear and coming out of the feelings of chronic resentment and hurt.

Unforgiveness is the poison you drink every day hoping that the other person will die. Debbie Ford

What is Forgiveness?

Forgiveness is not an emotion, it’s a decision. – Unknown

Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future. – Paul Boese

Forgiveness often becomes a challenge because it is misunderstood. There is a common mis perception that forgiveness means condoning or forgetting. What was wrong then is still wrong now. How can you really forget something that has been hurting you continuously? It is impractical and illogical as well. It is merely a wishful thinking and it doesn’t work.

It is important to remember that you want to forgive not because the person deserves it. Instead, it is an act of love, kindness, and mercy – above all it is a DECISION. It is primarily for YOU and not anyone else. Its purpose is to release you from the torture of the mental torture that resides inside you – it is 100 percent for you. It is also recognizing that you are fully responsible for your feelings – painful or peaceful. Someone hurt you once, but by playing the scene in the mind over and over again you are merely inflicting more pain on you. This is the first reality you have to accept. The mental chatter of oppression exists inside your mind – so you are responsible for fixing it.

The Art of Forgiveness

To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you. – Lewis B. Smedes

Forgive those who insult you, attack you or take you for granted. But more than this … forgive yourself for allowing them to hurt you. – Anonymous

?????Forgiveness is a DECISION you have to implement because your basic objective is to FREE yourself of pain and anguish. So you need to keep this objective in mind and work your way through it. The real problem is that the initial hurt happened in the past, but you are still holding on to it. So whenever you recall the past you become miserable in the present moment; for some reason you are not able to let go and free yourself.

Deciding to forgive someone means “deciding to give up the right to hurt him/her as a revenge for the hurt you are going through.” Therefore, it is all about “letting go.” Think of forgiving as a form of letting go or release of the hurt and anguish you are repeatedly feeling. And remember, it is “your hurt” that you want to “let go”. And you want to “let go of the hurt” because you want to “feel free”.

Let’s have some more insight into the issue. Your mind is tuned into thinking that you had been wronged, it was unjust, you had been taken advantage of and so on. All this is wonderful logic. The only trouble is that such thinking don’t solve the problem: your pain and anguish. Therefore, you need to come up with fresh arguments that help you “let go” and “feel relieved.”

Developing New Perspective

Thus, forgiveness is all about seeing the same thing in a new light. Here is how people create new reasoning to help you forgive:

Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck. –Dalai Lama

There is no need to take revenge on mediocre people. Their mediocrity is their own punishment. – anonymous

Religious Christians may consider this

Forgiveness is above all a personal choice, a decision of the heart to go against the natural instinct to pay back evil with evil. – Pope John Paul II

It is also useful to reason that the offender is also an unskillful and imperfect person and could not do any better and ending up hurting you. Is it OK to expect imperfect behavior from someone who is not perfect? You may also ask yourself – why you take things so personally? Are you perfect? It helps to limit your expectation of good behaviors from others for a very good reason – because they are not perfect. We live in a highly defective world where we should in fact be grateful if someone is courteous and be satisfied with that.

In nutshell, develop the right perspective of life, a correct understanding of yourself, and taking full percent responsibility for your feelings – this solves emotional issues before they arise.

What makes Forgiving So Hard?

People who have strong tendencies for being resentful, angry and hostile are less likely to forgive their offenders even after a very long time. In fact, what makes things really difficult is the involvement of ego – you know how painful a hurting ego is. It is like sitting on a hot stove under a scorching sun. Pains not connected to ego are rather easy to deal with and manage.

Another typical difficulty is how you define forgiveness. Most people just try to block out the hurtful event and don’t even want to talk about it. They really don’t understand the right way to look at forgiveness and thus fail to utilize the potency hidden in it.

No doubt forgiveness is difficult and challenging but remaining glued to the grudge is even more hazardous – it constantly is eating away your life. Think of the wonderful benefits of forgiving – the practice of forgiveness has been shown to reduce restlessness, stress, and depression and generates all round sense of well-being and happiness.

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How to Use Hypnosis Recordings Effectively

hypnosis imageLike all other self help aids, how effective the hypnosis audios will prove to be depends on you; on how well prepared you are. The only preparation needed s to make your mind receptive for the hypnotic experience. In order to get the best possible experience, here are a few useful tips.

The first and the foremost preparation is to get rid of faulty ideas and misconceptions about hypnosis. For that purpose careful reading of Most common myths about hypnosis will sure help. Being well and accurately informed is the most basic ground work to have the most useful hypnotic experience.

Your willingness to get hypnotized is the next very important mental preparation. Remember, you need to let go of any resistance or fear about the hypnotic experience. Convince yourself that you won’t get stuck in hypnosis. All you have to do is to allow yourself to be relaxed and be attentive towards the suggestions. There is nothing that can hurt in the slightest way; you are only going to be healed.

Before starting the session ensure that you are not in a hurry, there are no distractions of TV or other noises and you are comfortable. Coming in right after meals is a bad idea; also ensure that you are not thirsty or hungry. Use the restroom before you start. If you still under hangover of last night’s drinks or had several cups of coffee, it is better to postpone the session. You cannot have a profound or meaningful experience, if you are under influence of any substance that affects your consciousness.

Your body and your mind are inseparable. If your body relaxes, your mind will relax. In fact, in order to relax your body, you have to relax your mind! Take some time to relax your mind and body before you start, and you will be able to go that much deeper when you start.

If it is the first time it is natural to be somewhat apprehensive and confused. The best way to go about having an effective session is to have a neutral mind, so expect nothing. When you start with a open-minded, expecting a positive outcome, then it is far more likely that it will. Another important point is to keep your goal in mind. Goal is personal change; so don’t pay undue attention to the hypnosis experience itself. Let the change come naturally; hypnotism won’t work in some particular manner as you want it to be.

Another big hurdle is to try very hard. Many people try to think their way through it. They spend the whole time wondering if they are doing it correctly. They get busy analyzing what they are doing, evaluating if they should be thinking or doing something else. Unfortunately, they are so busy thinking that they don’t really get to experience much.

Hypnosis doesn’t require effort, any more than breathing does. You can try to breathe, but when you stop trying, it happens on its own, naturally. All you need to do is to let go of any effort on your part. Clear your mind and if you like focus on your breathing, to the exclusion of all else. Rather than struggling with thoughts, let them be there and just focus on breathing.

Try to be mere a dispassionate witness of whatever is happening without holding on to any experience, sensations or thoughts. Instead of becoming fascinated by them let them come and go.

Another key element of successful hypnosis is trust. Trust yourself and trust the process; knowing that hypnosis has transformed people everywhere, it will transform you also.

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

Defending a Hopeless Situation

Anand from India studies the board against Topalov from Bulgaria during chess tournament in SofiaThere are many similarities between the game of chess and real life – both can filled with severe ups and downs or throw you into hopeless situations. Those who have played serious chess know very well that there are many similarities between a chess game and life. It is common in a chess game to get stuck in some bad position – not necessarily because you are bad player; things just happen despite all your preparation and brilliant mind. Any chess player can testify to it – and when you are in a bad position often there is nothing you can do immediately about it. You have to just wait it out patiently trying that it does not get any worst.

Then, very frequently your opponent makes some bad or weak move(s) (in overconfidence or negligence) and you suddenly start seeing a “ray of hope”. Ultimately your patience pays off: you either come out a winner or force a draw. Patience always pays off. This is what I learned as a city level tournament chess player in two mega cities: Chicago and Mumbai. There are reasons why I could not pursue my addiction further but I learned a lifelong lesson from Chess – importance of Patience. My best cathartic experience was winning a six hour battle after sitting on a hopelessly precarious situation for almost five-and-half-hours! An opening blunder pushed me into a dangerous position and my opponent started attacking from all sides. However, my patient defense somehow exhausted my opponent’s all attacking abilities.

Acknowledge Transitions in Life

trade towersMany people can testify that life also throws situations when you are simply stuck in some not-so-good circumstances – have little options to maneuver, change or quit, and whatever support you have is not enough. It is not easy to sit out a situation that is full of uncertainties and potential dangers. This is the time when you discover that all your intellectual brilliance suddenly become irrelevant – and you begin to “feel” what it means to be actually “helpless”.

Things like accidents, stock-market loss, discovery of life threatening illness, back-stabbing by someone least expected, or losing everything in a natural disaster fortunately don’t happen often, but when they do you discover that you are least prepared for it. The path of recovery can often be painfully slow particularly when you have limited choices. This is the time when, not high IQ, but patience and staying power becomes the key to success. It may also be the time when life enters a different phase and new realities begin to unfold. This transition often requires drastic emotional adjustments and newer survival skills. I came in contact with chess after one such jolts while in high school.

During high school I suddenly discovered some serious health issues that forced me to stay away from all my favorite outdoor sporting hobbies – a big mental blow that threw me into deep depression. It forced me to discover the world of indoor games – chess to be more specific. And as I began discovering chess strategies for opening, middle, and end games depression had to leave me. Such was the absorbing power of this game played on just 64 squares of the board. At that time I never realized that the game would teach me the virtue of patience that would be useful for rest of my life.

There is another lesson that chess gives: There are times when you have to play to “not lose”.

Playing to Not Lose

defense shotNo one likes to lose and it’s normal to play for win. However, there are situations where it is safer to play to avoid losing. Quite commonly you are face to face with a really strong opponent or when it is a period when you are way off your true form. The best strategy under such circumstances is to play for a draw or steer clear of risky situations to minimize the risk of losing. You put all the responsibility of outcome of the game on your opponent and see to it that you make his task as hard as you can. In fact, it can be applied in any sport.

It is fairly common to slip into sadness, isolation and depression when the problem is overwhelming. Severe situations can also becomes an invitation to alcohol or drugs or precipitates some disorders – eating disorder or insomnia are common occurrences, for example. No matter what is happening to you and how ineffective your struggle has become, there is a good question to ponder – Have I hit the rock bottom or will go down still further?

When there is nothing but confusion and gloom all around. You really can’t say how long it will last – the only thing you can say is that it will end at some unknown time in future.

What to do Then?

For an intelligent person, this is the best time for emotional development – in fact, all hard times are. So problems are actually opportunities – not threats, and the more challenging they are the better for you! Here is the three step strategy to manage the so called rock-bottoms of life.

1. “Forget the situation and take control of yourself.” Think about it and take your time to delve into it. No matter where you are, you always have the power of control over how you are. You can always resist falling prey to depression or isolation. Do your best to maintain your mental composure. Right now the strategy is to keep your cool.

2. “Resolve to wait it out – tenaciously.” It is a mental resolve to bear out any mental or physical pain – so drop the anchor and let the storm unfold. Why this works? Because, no storm can go on forever! This is another truth of life. Keep a bigger picture of life in mind.

3. “How can I use this opportunity to make myself stronger?” Why this could be an opportunity, is a very good question you should be occupied with.

Some Inspiring Quotes

Here are some inspiring quotes; they provide healthy food for the mind and keep it from spinning in the wrong direction.

What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters to what lies within us. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Don’t go about here and there. Go inside and remain there. – Yogaswami

Paradoxically, we achieve true wholeness only by embracing our fragility and sometimes, our brokenness. – Jalaja Bonheim

Be like a postage stamp. Stick to one thing until you get there. – Josh Billings

One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” – Carl Jung

All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on. – Henry Ellis 

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Handling Stress: Go Beyond Relaxation and Transform Yourself

What a Life

What a Life

Rapid globalization, advances in information and technology and lifestyle revolving around digital appliances have radically transformed businesses and societies in recent years. Combined with demanding economic forces, it has significantly added to job and lifestyle insecurities. As a result, the stress level of people across the world has significantly gone up in last couple of years.

Because of the sheer amount of activities we participate in it can be hard to find the time to just take a break and relax. Even when we do have the time, it can be hard to relax because we’re simply not used to having the chance.

When you don’t make time to relax your body and mind become more and more “wound up”, resulting in aches and pains and excessive mental chatter. That mental chatter then causes you difficulties sleeping which only makes the problem of stress worse. If you are unable to relax you find yourself coming down with illnesses a lot more often. Therefore, stress is all pervasive and constantly takes heavy toll on the physical and emotional health of people.

Stress related health troubles cover a wide range of illnesses right from headaches to heart diseases. In fact, if stress is removed from life, people will automatically begin to stay healthier and happier.

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Reality of LIFE: Life in Not Fair

By nature life is not fair. It is a common experience that does not need any elaboration.

Julie died in an accident. Life is not fair to her children who lost their mother for none of their fault.

Jim’s worked really hard for years and significantly boosted profits for the company. He was almost hoping to be elevated to the rank of vice president. Suddenly the company was sold. All the cherished dreams of Jim crashed when he discovered that his ideas are out of sync with the new owner.

Evil is not always punished nor is virtue always rewarded. We all know this reality. According to Albert Ellis, founder of rational emotive behavior therapy, the belief that everything should be “fair” causes severe distress in people and aggravates it as well. We can all testify to the fact that bad things do happen to good people and bad people appear to have what they don’t deserve.

People, who have harbored high moral and ethical ideas, particularly get distressed when they observe something “unfair”. But a fact is a fact, whether you like it or not. However, it certainly must not encourage you to become unjust to others. Just realize this truth and maintain your sanity!

Stress Management in Organizations

Let's Relax a Bit!

Let’s Relax a Bit!

From the view point of businesses and organizations, wherever stress management is considered, it has been conventionally focused on techniques such as redesigning the job profile, time management training, increased employee participation, allowing for social support network, providing recreational facilities, etc.

Though never sufficiently effective in eliminating stress, except for select group of employees, they did serve some purpose as long as employees were viewed as “workers” whose productivity was correlated with man-hours and production output. However, this approach does not work well with today’s employees who are “knowledge workers”. Something more personal and individual approach to stress management is needed in the current atmosphere.

Relaxation Techniques are Necessary but Insufficient

relaxingFor most people managing stress is simply learning to relax. Hence, they try different ways to relax. Some of the common ways to relax are music, massage, long baths, yoga, meditation etc. They all have significant potential for stress relief and relaxing people. As long as people get relaxed and energized, they gain strength to stand up to face stress and discomforts.

However, learning to relax does not solve the root cause of stress that often has to do with the way people react to stressful situations. Since the mental frameworks of individuals are different, their reactions differ, and hence their stress levels are different. Ideally one would like to tackle stress where it basically originates – in the mind.

It is the attitudes, personal beliefs and emotional make-up of an individual that decides how any uncomfortable situation is going to impact him. Therefore, the best way to deal with stress is to learn relaxation techniques on one hand, and simultaneously work on removing the inner conflicts and developing right attitudes. In essence, it means reprogramming the mind, particularly the subconscious mind. Therefore, it is better to see stress as a pointer telling us to change.

Mindfulness – Know Yourself

Mental clarity

Mental clarity

Cultivating mindfulness or mindful awareness does precisely that. Mindfulness involves paying attention to one’s inner world – thoughts, feelings, emotions, tendencies, etc – without getting involved. You train to stay as an impartial witness of the activities of your own mind. Since mindfulness is a reality based practice, it will be rewarding to know a few hard facts of life while applying the mindfulness in real life situations. Your understanding of these facts will be of enormous help. However, rather than taking them as something from God’s mouth, think over them and check whether they make any sense to you.

Practicing mindfulness meditation is certainly helpful but is not necessary. We are all gifted with the ability to be aware (mindful). Now it is for us to decide if we want and choose to become consciously aware of what we are doing or continue to function in an auto-pilot mode based on habitual behavior. When adopting a mindfulness based lifestyle you will have to realize clearly that you can’t control other people and their behavior, but you certainly have the capacity to take care of how you react or respond. This, in fact, is the essence of mindfulness approach. You will learn to view everything (including yourself) from a broader perspective rather than the short term and immediate habitual reaction.

Transform Yourself

flowerAll forms of habit correction and personal transformation involve working with the subconscious mind – it is accessible only when the conscious mind is stilled. In states of anxiety and tension there is excessive mental chattering and is reflected by higher brainwave frequencies. In normal conscious waking state the beta brainwaves dominate the brain landscape for most people. The usual frequency range is 13-30 Hz, which is associated with alertness, concentration and arousal. Brainwaves beyond 30 Hz signify emotional distress, uneasiness and anxiety. Then it becomes important to have periods of frequent rest and stillness.

The first step towards self transformation is to slow down. By slowing down and becoming more focused you can achieve so much more all the while feeling calm and composed.

Stillness of mind is indicated by reduced brainwave frequencies (Brainwave patterns: Vocabulary of the Brain). As a person begins relaxing, his dominant brainwave frequencies shift to alpha region, 8-12 Hz. When the alpha waves predominate, calming neuro-chemicals like serotonin are released which are reduced by stress and anxiety. Deeper states of relaxation further decrease the brainwave frequency to theta region, 4-8 Hz. According to most psychologists the theta state is the doorway to the sub-conscious mind. Theta state increases the production of catecholamines that are vital for learning and memory.

Use Self Help Tools

While it is certainly possible for anyone to transform himself, but most people find it difficult and time consuming to even relax without some aiding tool. This is where the help of professionals or aiding tools like self-help audio/video. People generally prefer the recording for economical and practical reasons. Many people prefer brainwave music that directly operates on the brain by altering the brainwave frequencies. A lot of people also go for hypnosis which has become popular as more and more psychiatrists are applying it for a variety of purposes such as stress reduction, anger management, sleep disorders, addictions, pain control, healing wounds, and general health and well being.

Reading Further

How to Get Things Done in a Relaxed Manner

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

How to Come Out of Limited Living

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