Slowing Down

It’s no accident that oil lamps have been used for centuries to create a sense of stillness in a room. The flame of an oil lamp is much steadier tv than the flicker of a candle, lending to the environment of still and healthy quiet contemplation.

If you’re ever someplace and walk into a room where an oil lamp is lit, you will see. A certain “slow down” will happen naturally within you before too long.

Lets slow down on the inside as we also slow down on the outside and lets see what happens.

#oillamp #flame #steady #still #bestillandknow #meditation #quiet #home #catsofinstagram #cats

Protecting your Mental Health during the Coronavirus Outbreak

By Doreen Marshall, Ph.D.

Human beings like certainty.  We are hard-wired to want to know what is happening when and to notice things that feel threatening to us.  When things feel uncertain or when we don’t generally feel safe, it’s normal to feel stressed.  This very reaction, while there to protect us, can cause all sorts of havoc when there is a sense of uncertainty and conflicting information around us.

A large part of anxiety comes from a sense of what we think we should be able to control, but can’t.  Right now, many of us are worried about COVID-19, known as the “Coronavirus”.  We may feel helpless about what will happen or what we can do to prevent further stress.  The uncertainty might also connect to our uncertainty about other aspects of our lives, or remind us of past times when we didn’t feel safe and the immediate future was uncertain.

In times like these, our mental health can suffer.  We don’t always know it’s happening.  You might feel more on edge than usual, angry, helpless or sad.  You might notice that you are more frustrated with others or want to completely avoid any reminders of what is happening.  For those of us who already struggle with our mental wellness, we might feel more depressed or less motivated to carry out our daily activities.

It’s important to note that we are not helpless in light of current news events.  We can always choose our response.  If you are struggling, here are some things you can do to take care of your mental health in the face of uncertainty:

Separate what is in your control from what is not. There are things you can do, and it’s helpful to focus on those.  Wash your hands.  Remind others to wash theirs. Take your vitamins. Limit your consumption of news (Do you really need to know what is happening on a cruise ship you aren’t on?

Do what helps you feel a sense of safety. This will be different for everyone, and it’s important not to compare yourself to others.  It’s ok if you’ve decided what makes you feel safe is to limit attendance of large social events, but make sure you separate when you are isolating based on potential for sickness versus isolating because it’s part of depression.

Get outside in nature–even if you are avoiding crowds. I took a walk yesterday afternoon in my neighborhood with my daughter.  The sun was shining, we got our dose of vitamin D, and it felt good to both get some fresh air and quality time together.   Exercise also helps both your physical and mental health.

Challenge yourself to stay in the present. Perhaps your worry is compounding—you are not only thinking about what is currently happening, but also projecting into the future. When you find yourself worrying about something that hasn’t happened, gently bring yourself back to the present moment.  Notice the sights, sounds, tastes and other sensory experiences in your immediate moment and name them. Engaging in mindfulness activities is one way to help stay grounded when things feel beyond your control.

Stay connected and reach out if you need more support. Talk to trusted friends about what you are feeling. If you are feeling particularly anxious or if you are struggling with your mental health, it’s ok to reach out to a mental health professional for support.  You don’t have to be alone with your worry and it can be comforting to share what you are experiencing with those trained to help.

We are in this together, and help is always available.  If you’re feeling alone and struggling, you can also reach out to The Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741 or National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.

Moving from Untruth to Truth

A few days ago, a friend asked me if I had a favorite quote, or mantra or something I said to myself every day. I thought I’d share my answer in case it resonated with anyone else.

Asatoma Sadgayama is Sanskrit; roughly translated to English it comes out as “from untruth to truth.”  

Not a religious text, and even though it originates from the east it isn’t eastern either. If you think about the translation, moving from untruth to truth is pretty much applicable to anyone, anywhere.

It means working on dropping what we’ve gathered; perceptions, ideas, habits; anything that is acquired unconsciously and moving towards living more consciously. Letting go of what we’ve accumulated so far in our lives and moving towards what we really are. Which is a conscious being.

That’s a pretty universal idea, isn’t it? Faced with the question, would you really want to hang on to some automatic behaviors instead of stopping and saying “wait a minute’, why do I think this, or why do I do that?” 

There was a song that was popular a few years ago that had a line in it that went “I don’t know why I say the things I say, but I say them any-way”

Reminded me of some words I read recently where the topic discussed was the 28-30 year cycles in life; the idea being that we run through cycles during our lifetimes, repeating behaviours and situations until or unless we wake up one day and stop. And, that we really don’t begin to have an idea what life is all about until we’re in our 70s or 80s, after running through these cycles.

The whole idea of intentionally working on oneself is to shove a stick in the wheel of repetitive behaviors and say “hang on a minute here”, and look a little deeper at what we’re doing (or not doing) and try to see why it all is so that we can make the decision to continue or stop and do something else.  

Asatoma Sadgayama. Moving from untruth to truth. Sounds to me like something worth repeating to oneself every day.

#qotd #asatomasadgamaya #clarity #life #conscious #choose

The Hero’s Journey

There is no such thing as a Hero’s Journey that doesn’t involve entering a dark thicket, battling savage beasts and facing your own despairs.

After all, the Kingdom can only be entrusted to someone who is willing to die for it. In order for any kind of growth to occur, you must be willing to kill off the part of you that is no longer serving you so that something new can grow in its place.

#growth #personalgrowth #evolution #evolve #herosjourney #josephcampbell

Veterans Day

On this Veterans/Armistice Day we salute all veterans and active military personnel, with appreciation for their tremendous service to our country.

But not all Veterans have had such a welcoming homecoming experience.

The transition from civilian life to one of military is tough enough. But returning home after duty is a completely different kind of transition for many Veterans.

No more rigid environment. Nobody setting your schedule for you. No more camaraderie with the other troops. You’re in charge of your own life again. And if you saw combat, it can be much more emotionally devastating. It can be very difficult to make that psychological transition back home and back into civilian life again.

If you see a Veteran, not just on Veterans Day but any day; thank them for their Service but also sincerely ask them how they’re doing? Your question may spark a need for support. Below are some resources available:

In the Detroit area, Veterans support can be found at:

Detroit Regional Offices of Veterans Services

https://www.benefits.va.gov/Detroit/veterans-services-orgs.asp.

Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency, which connects Vets to Benefits and Resources

https://www.michiganveterans.com

The Michigan Veterans Foundation offers support in the form of:

  • Veteran Rescue Program
  • Transitional Housing
  • Vocational and Life Skill training
  • Health care services
  • PTSD Counseling
  • Transportation, meals and clothing
  • Substance Abuse Intervention
  • Legal Assistance and Housing Placement

http://www.michiganveteransfoundation.org.

The Michigan Veterans of Foreign Wars provides assistance will filling out and submitting VA forms and processes, and also offers a Buddy to Buddy program that can pair up Veterans that can support each other to help handle the transition back to civilian life.

https://vfwmi.org/di/vfw/v2/default.asp?pid=8899

Painting info:

Norman Rockwell (1894-1978), “The Homecoming,” 1945. Cover illustration for “The Saturday Evening Post,” May 26, 1945. Norman Rockwell Museum.

Autumnal Equinox

A snail knows who he is and what he needs to do. Doesn’t have to question anything, his instructions and destiny are already programmed into his DNA.

People on the other hand, have the ability to discriminate; to choose this or that, consider outcomes, weigh consequences.

Today is an Equinox on the planet. At 3:50 in the morning today in the Northern Hemisphere, time was equal for a moment. But now in the North, the days will grow shorter and the nights longer. Generations ago, this season began the gathering work from the fields and gardens. Harvest. Stocking the cellars for the winter months, ensuring that enough exists. Preparing the outdoors and indoors for the forthcoming seasonal changes.

And internal preparation as well. For our interiors, the Equinox is about weighing and finding balances. What is useful, maybe meaningful and therefore kept, and what has served its purposed and needs to be released?

All this is a great reminder that time is not linear, but cyclical. With each day becoming more and more short, the hope of returning light happens; which is exactly what happens in the Southern Hemisphere, where days are getting longer, warmth returns, seedlings begin to sprout.

We enter and leave seasons just as nature does. It’s important to remember that things like Equinoxes support our internal questions of what is true and real for us. What is present, right now. And are we on a path that supports whatever that is for us?

Because our interior systems are synchronized with the heavens, times of year such as this and certain others offer a natural support mechanism for such interior inquires. Its a good thing to clear out clutter as one season leaves to make room for the next season coming in. This is a good time to ask yourself if you’re carrying around anything that needs to go.

A snail knows who he is. He doesn’t have to question anything; only where his next meal is coming from. We have the ability to look deeper at life, but only if we choose to be a little more conscious about it and less accidental.

Mental Health and Social Media


Great article on the link between mental health issues and the use of social media in young people, although overuse of social media can cause problems in adults just as well.

Social media is a great toolset for mass communication, sharing of ideas, for learning and in general making the world a smaller place. Social media can be used to obtain real information about issues, cultures, geographies; anything that one wants to learn about. All if used properly. 

However, it can become easy to blur the lines of social media and reality; not only for impressionable young people, but for everyone.

Try being more self-aware when it comes to interacting with others.  
Limit your online environment in favor of in-person interactions, and see how you feel about each.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/09/11/social-media-linked-increased-risk-mental-health-problems/

Raising Awareness

Raising awareness within oneself is often the first step taken if one wishes to become more aware to one’s surroundings and to life itself.  Can’t know anything outside of us if we’re out of touch with our own selves.

A simple way to begin a practice like this is to just pay attention to, and switch up routine things about ourselves.

For example, if you are right-handed, begin to do some things with your left hand; such as brushing your teeth, combing your hair or shaving.  Reach for things with your non-dominant hand, and just notice what it’s like to do that and how it feels.

Look at how your feet are pointed as you’re walking or standing still.  If necessary, gently correct the alignment by re-positioning your feet so that they are pointed straight ahead as you walk or stand still.  Your hips and spine will thank you for this, too.  Just notice, and gently correct and then see how it feels to walk and stand in this adjusted manner.

Last but never least is the breath.

Notice the depth of your breath throughout your day.  Especially during any anxious moments.  Can you notice your breath?  

The breath is both a barometer/indicator and a tool that can be used to calm the nervous system.  If you notice that your breath is shallow, simply make a point to pay attention to the length of your breath and try to lengthen your exhale to be double the time of your inhale.  For example, if you count your inhale at four seconds, lengthen your exhale to eight seconds.  And then see if you can notice what its like to do that, and how you feel after watching your breath and lengthening your exhale for a few minutes.  Do this throughout your day, especially during anxious moments and just notice what its like and if there is any difference in how you feel during and afterwards.

These are some basic steps to become more self-aware.

As these are practiced, see if you begin noticing any difference in your awareness within yourself, and also outside of yourself; of your surroundings and of other people. 

Scientists show how Gratitude literally alters the Human Heart and Molecular Structure

“A group of prestigious and internationally recognized leaders in physics, biophysics, astrophysics, education, mathematics, engineering, cardiology, biofeedback, and psychology (among other disciplines) have been doing some brilliant work over at the Institute of HeartMath.

Their work, among many others, has proven that when a person is feeling really positive emotions like gratitude, love, or appreciation, the heart beats out a different message, which determines what kind of signals are sent to the brain.”

Because the heart sends signals to the brain, feeling gratitude consistently can actually re-wire your brain; creating more receptors for such emotions and can be a great tool in overcoming depression and anxiety.

https://www.collective-evolution.com/2019/02/14/scientists-show-how-gratitude-literally-alters-the-human-heart-molecular-structure-of-the-brain/?fbclid=IwAR0Uw0W2ly5bwewmy-vSx8WGR9SusAY_XlTAs8weUet6suoLUXMJUzt28Zc

Just use your Breath

Controlling your anxiety and nervousness can be helped by simply lengthening your exhale.

Hacking your Vagus Nerve simply by using your breath and a lengthened exhale can help against stress responses, and will improve your Heart Rate Variable.

During an inhale, the sympathetic nervous system stimulates a very brief acceleration of the heart rate. During an exhale, the Vagus Nerve secretes a transmitter substance which causes a deceleration of the heart rate via the parasympathetic nervous system.

For example, a yoga practice instructs us to focus on the breath; specifically on the exhale. Using just the breath alone, one can lower one’s heart rate, which will in turn help to bring down anxiety levels, and help with agitation and general stress. Pranayamic breath work has been in use successfully in many ways for thousands of years around the world for the exact same reason. Almost every couple of years, fresh research corroborates that each of us can trigger our “rest and relax” parasympathetic nervous system to bring about a relaxation response , simply by focusing on the inhalation-to-exhalation ratio of our breathing and consciously extending the length of each exhale while doing breathing exercises as we go about our day-to-day lives. This allows us to focus more clearly, pay closer attention to someone or something, and allows us to be much more “present” in our lives with others. Immensely helpful in any situation.

Using these respiration patterns frequently (slowed and with longer exhalations) can explain a significant part of the efficacy found within contemplative activity practice. Though contemplative activities are diverse, they have shown a similar pattern of beneficial effects on health, mental health, and cognition: mostly in stress-related conditions and performance. This pattern can be explained by these controlled breathing exercises.

An easy way to test this and integrate it into your daily life is to use the 4:8 breathing cycle.

Inhale deep and long for four seconds, then exhale deep and long for 8 seconds. This should come out to about 5 cycles per minute.

Any time you’re feeling stressed out or anxious, try 2 minutes of Vagus Nerve Breathing, or about 10 rounds of the 4:8 inhale/exhale cycles. Just see for yourself how you feel afterward.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-athletes-way/201905/longer-exhalations-are-easy-way-hack-your-vagus-nerve?fbclid=IwAR12YBbf6fQ5wrYKi4R42MB1yK5uYSMPZiN764fAKMJ1rlczbiOrptkBugU