5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress: CBD Can Help
This article first appeared on MadebyHemp.
In our modern, fast-paced world, stress is becoming a very common component in our everyday lives. It has become so common, in fact, that we no longer seem to notice stress until it has compounded into something bigger and has started affecting our health. Stress, or rather, stress hormones (a primary stress hormone like cortisol), are released into the body to trigger our “fight or flight” response. In dire situations, these hormones help elevate our energy supplies, increase the concentration of glucose in our blood, and even help our brain use glucose optimally for quicker decision making. However, long-term activation of the body’s stress system could cause a host of health problems — anxiety, depression, heart disease – to name a few.
Therefore, it is important we learn of ways to relieve ourselves of stress. Below are five simple ways to relieve stress:
1. CBD Oil
You’ve probably heard of CBD quite often this whole year. There is good reason for that. Aside from its uses in alleviating the symptoms of epilepsy, it is also being used as a natural means of reducing anxiety and stress. This is because all mammals have an endocannabinoid system. This is a network of CBD receptors along our central nervous system. These receptors react to CBD by fixing imbalances, strengthening our immune system, and relieving symptoms of stress and anxiety. So a couple of drops of CBD oil every day might just be the trick to help alleviate our everyday stress.
2. Learn Healing Magnetism with Hands for self-help
Science already knows that magnetic fields are everywhere. Even light is magnetic. Every human also has his own magnetic field.
Disturbances in this magnetic field has a negative effect on how one feels. Counteracting these symptoms by arranging the magnetic field in the body is what magnetic therapy is all about and results in an improved well-being.
Magnetic therapy aligns the body’s magnetic field through hand placements on the clothed body, which eliminates potential blockages. As a result unhealthy negative energy is channeled out of the body and replaced with healing, positive energy which flows from the hand placement.
In addition, magnetic therapy can compensate for energy deficiencies and thus stimulate the body’s natural self-healing process.
Physical activity causes our body to release happy hormones like dopamine and serotonin. To people who have experienced what is called the “runner’s high”, this is actually the rush of endorphins released by your body as a response to running. Endorphins help our body reduce stress by helping our body overcome pain, and regulate our sleep. The stress hormone cortisol actually reduces the production of happy hormones in our body which will lead to more stress for us. Exercising would help build these hormones back up in our system.
4. Reduce caffeine
We all have a caffeine threshold. Caffeine is known to help keep us awake and give us that boost of much-needed energy, especially in the mornings when all we want is to go back to sleep. However, too much caffeine can contribute to anxiety which in turn causes stress. It could also cause heart palpitations, cold sweat, and some digestive upset when you take too much caffeine. So if you find yourself getting anxious after your second or third cup of coffee, it might be a good idea to skip that cup of joe and maybe have something with lower caffeine levels. Perhaps a nice low caffeine tea, or, dare we say, some decaf coffee?
Spending time with friends and family is a great stress reliever. No matter how introverted and socially averse you are, there is always someone you prefer spending your time with. And for those of us who are extroverted, being with people is an energizing experience. Laughing and having an enjoyable time with the people you love will help you relax more, and forget about your woes. In women, spending time with family and children helps in releasing oxytocin, a natural stress reliever.
No matter your station in life, stress is unavoidable. Keeping these five tips in mind will help you in managing or maybe even relieving stress. And in turn will help you enjoy life more, avoid health issues, and even develop a healthier relationship with yourself and with your social circle.
Nine Tips For Better Sleep Hygiene (Get A Better Night’s Rest!)
This article first appeared on MadebyHemp.com.
What Is Sleep Hygiene? Why Does it Matter?
Sleep hygiene is a series of routines, habits, and behaviors you partake in relation to your sleep. Unknowingly or not, each of us has our own rituals and behaviors which may impact our overall feeling of rest. Things like a 3 pm cup of coffee or sleeping in on the weekend to ‘catch up’ on sleep are examples of undesirable sleep hygiene behaviors.
Sleep hygiene is important because it can either improve or reduce the quality of sleep you are getting. A few simple tweaks can really improve the amount of sleep you are able to get – whether that is 6 hours or 9 hours.
This list is a holistic approach to improving your nighttime habits and is not a simple one-step solution.
1. Develop a night-time wind down routine
This can include:
2. Block out all light and noise
Darkness acts as a signal to your body it needs to prepare for sleep. If you aren’t able to completely control your circumstances, then things like a sleep mask and earplugs will ensure that you are able to block out as much light and noise as possible.
Alternatively, blackout curtains make a huge difference; also using masking tape to cover any small lights on chargers and cords.
3. Use a filter on electronics
Blue light from electronics can mimic sunlight and throw off our body’s natural circadian rhythm. These kinds of devices can trick our bodies into thinking it is still light outside and we should, therefore, stay awake. Apps like f.lux can be installed to block out the high frequency wavelengths that may interfere with sleep.
4. Be mindful of the temperature in the room
The ideal temperature for sleep is 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit. Keeping the room dark will aid in maintaining a cooler temperature, and a fan can be positioned near the bed as well.
5. Aim to fall asleep and wake up at a similar time each night
Waking up at a similar time will help strengthen your body’s natural circadian rhythm. Our bodies are designed to rise with the sun and sleep when it goes down – and sleeping in on weekends can throw this rhythm off.
The same goes for falling asleep at a similar time. You will find falling asleep will get easier as your body gets used to its new routine.
6. Move your body throughout the day
Being active throughout the day is beneficial for many reasons, but getting your heart rate up during the day may actually increase the length and quality of your sleep. As little as 10 minutes of walking or cycling on a daily basis is enough to reap these benefits when done on a consistent basis.
7. Stop caffeine at 12 pm
Our bodies are designed to have peak energy after waking up in the morning and should gradually drop throughout the day, ending in sleep at night. A stimulant like caffeine will cause an unnatural spike when consumed in the afternoon and may lead to a crash later in the day. Coffee and other stimulants are best when consumed in the first 30 minutes of waking up – when our bodies should be producing peak cortisol for the day!
Try to limit other substances like alcohol or chocolate to 4 hours before bedtime if possible.
8. Write down a to-do list
If you find it hard to fall asleep at night because your mind is racing with all of the things you need to finish tomorrow, take a minute to jot all of your thoughts down. Having a place to keep all of these thoughts is helpful because you won’t have to stress or worry about forgetting something – all of those thoughts will be waiting for you in the morning!
9. Worst case… use a supplement
A supplement is just that – an extra bonus to an already healthy lifestyle. If you are really struggling to fall asleep at night, things like melatonin or CBD oil can help get your body ready for sleep.
Of course, the goal is to be able to fall asleep without these products, but they can be particularly useful in the beginning when you are trying to get your body’s rhythm back on track.
10 Top Health & Wellness Trends this 2019
This article first appeared on MadebyHemp.com
This year has been a year when most of the world focused on health and wellness in a more holistic manner: both physical and mental wellness. And it is beginning to look like 2019 will be a glorious continuation of what we have been opening our minds up to in 2018. So what can we expect to see in the health and wellness sphere in 2019?
The 5,000-year-old health system, Ayurveda (in Sanskrit means “knowledge of life”) is responsible for a lot of health movements in 2018. Perhaps the most familiar of which would be the ketogenic diet. Ayurveda is an old system of medicine that incorporates plants and animal products, particularly fats. The practice of Ayurveda involves using fats both for consumption, meaning eating fats like ghee, and external use, like oils for the skin. The practice connects both mind and body in bringing about wellness.
2. More Plant Based Alternatives
2018 has seen the rise of plant based food, a whopping 23% rise in sales. Gone are the days when the choices we had regarding plant based food were TVP and tofu. Now it is beginning to look like there will be a huge movement in the plant based fish sector. Expect your local Whole Foods aisles to have more plant based fish meat choices. The plant based fish movement stemmed from the awareness of people of the negative impact of overfishing has on our environment.
3. More Sleep
A lot of people, students and workers alike, are severely lacking in sleep. In the coming year, we will have a better understanding of our circadian rhythm and the effects of melatonin and cortisol on our sleep patterns. If these two hormones get out of whack, our circadian rhythm will be thrown out of its cycle and our sleep gets messed up.
4. CBD Oil
This year has seen a massive rise in popularity of CBD oil. Despite its being taboo in certain circles, Whole Foods Market’s projection predicts that CBD oil will have an even higher spike in popularity in 2019.
Expect that in the coming year, we will be learning more about the endocannabinoid system or the ECS. This is a major bodily system which compounds like CBD and other cannabinoids interact with. We have seen how CBD oil has helped manage anxiety and we’ve marveled at its anti-inflammatory and anti-seizure effects. Cannabis might also help with setting our sleep pattern straight. It most certainly helps with keeping a lid on anxiety and stress.
More and more people are becoming aware of global warming and the dire situation the Earth is currently in. Expect that in 2019, the strong rise of the eco-friendly movement will continue. It is predicted that the use of single use plastics and other single use items will see a further decline and the BYOB (bring your own bag) movement will continue to become more popular.
6. Mental Health
This year, mental health continues to be given its due importance. People are now realizing that in order to be physically healthy, you need to think about your mental health as well. Hemp based products (like CBD oil) has become a more popular alternative to the usual stress medications. It is predicted that 2019 will see the continuation of this mental health trend.
7. Oat milk
Is oat milk the new soy? This year, sales have grown by an impressive 45%. Lactose averse people have found a good alternative to dairy and soy milk and the rise of its popularity does not seem to be ending soon. Grab yourself a bottle of oat milk this 2019 because it looks like they will be flying off the shelves still.
8. MCT oil
Aside from CBD, 2018 brought MCT (medium chain triglycerides) oil into the spotlight. This oil is odorless and colorless and stays liquid at room temperature. Putting MCT oil into your coffee, making it “bulletproof” is a good way of boosting your energy. Expect to see MCT become even more popular in 2019 as more people become aware of its benefits.
9. Body Positivity
Thanks to Rihanna and her Fenty brand, body positivity moved from the fringes to mainstream. Body positivity saw a rise in popularity in 2018 as more and more people focus on loving their bodies instead of shrinking them to fit into the mold that society wanted them to look. As more people shift their focus to mental health, this 2019 will see an even bigger rise in the body positivity movement.
10. Hemp based products
Aside from CBD oil, hemp based products have found their way into our lives from our beauty products, to our food. With the 2018 Farm Bill already signed into law, hemp based farming will be legal nationwide. Expect that in 2019, there will be more choices in hemp based products.
Do we live more than once on earth? Does reincarnation exist?
Something we do occupy ourselves with also in our Practitioner Training for Healing Magnetism as the knowledge about Reincarnation can help us find answers to many unsolved questions.
In this Blog post we share the story of Jenny Cockell from England, which is one of the most fascinating examples of past life memories, which have actually been confirmed.
Reincarnation | At Home with Jenny Cockell
Do we live more than once on earth? Does reincarnation exist? The story of Jenny Cockell from England is one of the most fascinating examples of past life memories, which have actually been confirmed. Speaking to “Thanatos.tv” she tells us how she was able to find her children from a previous life, in which she had died as a young mother, and how she was able to exchange mutual memories with them. She also relates memories of other lives – and why her "search for trails of the past” has now come to an end.
With Healing Magnetism we open and optimize additional healing possibilities, even where conventional medicine or other natural healing methods have so far been unsuccessful.
When we conduct Healing Magnetism or when we receive Healing Magnetism we accept that we are more than our physical body. This also means that when our physical body dies, the Soul/Spirit lives on.
Every physical body at some point will die. But how can we achieve a good death? In the following video we can find out what Peter Fenwick has discovered in his Near Death Research.
Peter Fenwick (born 25 May 1935) is a neuropsychiatrist and neurophysiologist who is known for his pioneering studies of end-of-life phenomena. In this interview he talks about near-death-experiences (NDE), death-bed-visitors and how we can achieve a good death. NDE research is at the cutting edge of consciousness research and offers a convincing model for the understanding of what happens when we die. Peter Fenwick describes the different transitional phases of the dying process and highlights the importance of letting go at the end of ones life. He offers fascinating insights into common phenomena at the end of life, such as premonitions, seeing a light, death-bed-visions and coincidences. In his opinion everybody should know about death and the dying process, because it is a normal part of living.
All of our students coming from many different corners of this planet are well aware of how we can help an individual, or ourselves, with the strengthening of the important heart-mind connection using Healing Magnetism and the knowledge of the up-building of creation. Our students are aware of the importance of our ability to connect to our heart/intuition and our brain/s. In the frame of the Internationally accredited Healing with Hands Training we mention also the value of other methods which can help us in that. One question I have received a couple of times from students is what Qigong and Tai Chi is. Let's in the following explain this to us by an expert. How can these ancient methods help us clear the heart-mind connection. (Please note that Virtuosity does not take responsibility for the following content and might not agree with everything said in the article.)
We are grateful to gain further understanding with the following beautiful writing by Dr. Roger Jahnke, OMD. The article first appeared here)
At the Nine Clouds Mountain Qigong Sanatorium near the Six Harmonies Pagoda in Hangzhou, Zhu Hui, a medical doctor and master teacher of Qigong from Tian Tai Mountain, told this Three Treasures story one morning during a tea break. Master Zhu had been practicing Chinese medicine for nearly 50 years, and his teaching was always a rich mix of medical, Daoist and Buddhist influences.
The road to unity
A young monk felt he was prepared to deepen his cultivation practice and his master gave the assignment to cultivate inner quiet and discover the secret of the source of life and its application to the preservation of health and vitality. He gave the suggestion to focus on the Earth Elixir Field (Di Dan Tian). After some months of practice, the young monk reported to the master that he felt sure that the most practical answer regarding the secret was nourishment, rest and the conservation of Qi and inner resources. The master encouraged the young monk, “You have found the secret to preserve the Jing and sustain the body, but you have not found the source of life.” The master teacher asked the young monk if he was still interested in pursuing the deeper secret. The monk nodded and the elder gave him the suggestion to focus on the Heart-Mind Elixir Field (Xin Dan Tian).
This time it was considerably longer before the monk visited the elder. When he returned, now older, he responded that the secret of the source of life and its preservation were associated with accepting what naturally arises and bringing love and compassion into the world. The master agreed and encouraged the monk to continue his good work of compassionate service. The monk said to the master, “I know that I have penetrated to the secret of highly refined interactions of the Qi and the opening of the Heart-Mind. It has inspired me to be of service to my fellow humans. It is clear that this sustains life, my own and others. But I have not determined the secret of the source of life.” The master suggested, “Focus on the Celestial Elixir Field (Ling Dan Tian), the entry place of Heaven in the living human being.”
Some years passed. When the younger monk returned he was older. The elder monk said, “Tell me in one word”. The younger monk said, “Unity”. They both smiled quietly, knowing their was nothing more to say. They parted, both knowing that even though they would not meet again, they were always together at the Source.
The power of Qi
When people turn to Qi cultivation, like the young monk, the focus is usually on health and the preservation of the body. When people discover the magnitude of the power of the Qi (after all it is the energy that runs the entire universe), body health and longevity frequently become secondary benefits of attaining peace of mind and heart.
In the tradition of Qigong, it is believed that once you taste or experience one of the treasures that you are destined to pursue the cultivation of that treasure. As you begin to deeply understand and experience your Body Essence (Jing), your Heart-Mind (Xin) or your Spirit (Shen), you will likely be inspired to cultivate them because the promise is so great. When we cultivate Body Essence it leads to vitality and physical healing. When we purposefully access the Heart-Mind and cultivate the treasure of Heart-Mind Elixir it nourishes peace of mind and emotional healing. It is a rare person who does not become attracted to having peace of mind once they have begun to experience it.
What if you were already whole?
The Spirit does not require healing; Shen is inherently and supremely well. Shen resides with in the Heart-Mind longing to be revealed, expressed, and radiated. When the Heart-Mind is cleared of its typical restraints including fear, judgement and all sorts of trauma, Shen expresses as radiance. The cultivation of the treasure of Spirit can trigger the release of miracles.
The Heart-Mind is the secret gate through which thoughts, feelings, emotions and attitudes are cleansed and purified. The sincere deepening of Qi cultivation practice requires that intention and will become major focus areas in practice and in life. In ancient traditions, retiring to a cave in the mountains or going to the desert, to disassociate from the material world were primary ways to pass through this secret gate. That is why it is often called the “Mysterious Pass”. It was also called the “dark feminine” in many translations because the Heart-Mind gate operates more on surrender communication and collaboration than on conquest or control. The legendary Bodhidarmha, who many revere for having brought Buddhism to China and who was legendary founder of the Shaolin Temple, faced the wall of a cave in deep meditation for nine years. The intensity of his Heart-Mind purification burned his image into the cave wall.
Clearing the Heart-Mind
In modern times, however, most people find it difficult to clear the Heart-Mind, even with years of meditation practice. The intensity of the busy and confused world constantly challenges and activates the nervous system, the heart and the mind. If distraction, busy-ness, constant list making or worry and judgment (of self and others) challenge your Qi cultivation, consider integrating holistic mind/body medicine and group support or counseling along with Qigong and Tai Chi, as complementary tools for helping to clear the Heart-Mind.
In other words the fire of intent that is required to change Heart-Mind integrity (behavior) is so dynamic that it radiates a profound heat. This suggests that changing the habits of the personality (Heart-Mind) will require rigor and discipline – Heart-Mind fire.
Purifying the Heart-Mind Qi
Intentful mind leads the Qi. You can combine Qigong practice with meditation, purposeful declaration, and visualization into powerful imagery and focus that can be used in either stillness or movement. In the relaxed state, mind (intent) with directed visualization or inner affirmation combined with the body movement and purposeful breath practice purify the Heart-Mind Qi.
When you make the choice to “let go” of a grudge or forgive someone who has been unfair, you are removing a factor that may have been depleting or stagnating your Qi — inner resources. The grudge or withheld forgiveness is not hurting the begrudged or the unforgiven one. Instead, the damage is done to the one who holds the grudge or withholds forgiveness. Holding these kinds of feelings constrains the Heart-Mind, exhausts the Qi and overshadows the incredible but buried splendor of the radiant Shen spirit.
A chant to purify Qi
Declarations and blessings in chants or prayers may be integrated into Qigong practice to sustain the benefits throughout the day – starting upon waking and including the moments before and even continuing into sleep. Zhu Hui, was from the Tain Tai mountain – a melting pot of Daoist and Buddhist influences. He often said it is the mind (Heart-Mind) focus that makes what appears to be a simple exercise into a powerful Qigong practice. He often used the following chant in conjunction with his teaching of one of his favorite Buddhist forms, Lotus Flower Qigong.
Extra Qi is pulled out into nature,
Disturbed Qi is pulled down into the earth.
In this my heart is purified.
Who seeks Dao,
Will achieve Dao.
We could as easily say, more contemporarily:
Spent emotional and physical energy is naturally pulled out into nature,
Disturbed and distressed emotional energy is pulled down into the earth.
In this my heart and mind are purified.
Who seeks awareness of Oneness and Unity,
Will achieve Oneness and Unity.
This declaration, and any declarations like it, stated with sincerity and intent helps the practitioner to sustain the focus on purifying the Qi in the practice. Everything from physical sickness to mental/emotional disharmony is being dispelled – Qi channels and pathways are cleared with the power of intent. “Who seeks Dao, achieves Dao” is a promise of Qigong, Tai Chi and all forms of Qi cultivation. It acknowledges that cultivation in a purposeful state will connect the practitioner with his or her true state of radiant wellbeing and eternal spiritual life.
Learn to make medicine with your own body: Join Dr. Roger Jahnke for Entering the Qigong and Tai Chi Way at the Art of Living Retreat Center from April 28th-May 3rd, 2019. Ready to share the healing power of Qigong with others? Dr. Jahnke also teaches the Healer Within Qigong Certification at the Art of Living Retreat Center from April 26th-28th, 2019.
Dr. Roger Jahnke, OMD, has dedicated his life to sharing the powerful holistic healing traditions of China. Author of The Healer Within and Director of the Institute of Integral Qigong and Tai Chi (IIQTC), Dr. Jahnke has been a practitioner of these techniques for over four decades and is renowned for the clarity, compassion, humor and depth of his teaching style. Along with colleagues at the IIQTC Dr. Jahnke has contributed to the research evidence base supporting the practice of Qigong and Tai Chi and has trained over two thousand teachers around the world.
This post includes excerpts from The Healing Promise of Qi by Roger Jahnke, and is reposted with permission from the author.
Disclaimer: This Blog post expresses the view and perception of the author and may not express the views and perception of Virtuosity
As a high school teacher in the Bronx for 14 years I got to meet and deeply know a lot of teens. Having those relationships taught me a lot about what makes adolescents tick. I saw that the way adults view teens impacts the way teens see themselves, and ultimately the lives they think they are capable of leading. I also witnessed how school settings can be fertile ground for greater understanding and connection, or misunderstanding and miscommunication between teachers and young adults.
One of the high schools I worked at was a traditional school, with honors classes, Advanced Placement courses, Senior trips and proms. The other was a transfer school, where students go as a last chance for a high school degree (their prior schools failing to meet these students’ needs in one way or another). In this school students call teachers by their first name, they work closely with community based organizations, and it’s where I was lucky enough to introduce mindfulness.
Both schools were Title 1 schools, which meant the majority of the students were receiving free or reduced lunch. Both had committed, caring (and overworked) administrators, staff and teachers.
Since leaving the classroom I’ve gotten the opportunity to work with teens in more affluent communities (one of the schools a mere 10 miles north of the transfer school) where kids are getting the best education and resources their parents and communities can generously give. I wasn’t surprised to also see committed, caring, and overworked administrators, staff, and teachers but I was surprised to see how much these teens were also struggling.
Even though these adolescents’ educational contexts are very different, a couple of things are true for all of them. The adolescent years are challenging, confusing, and filled with changes to the body, their brain, and relationships. Adolescence is a tumultuous time of our lives!
Let’s also not forget about technology and the impact it’s having on our children. Most of us can probably remember what it was like to be bored when we were young and not have a screen readily available. Our parents would tell us to figure it out, go outside, go play. Or they would assign us a chore to make sure we didn’t stay bored. These moments of boredom often led to free play, which is critical in child development. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics free play helps children develop their imagination, curiosity, and healthy relationships with the children around them and their parents.
Whether we think the advent of technology is good or bad, it is here to stay and it is rewiring our children’s minds. Many have a harder time focusing their attention and developing relationships outside of their digital persona.
The developing brains of adolescents
When I taught mindfulness to my teens in the Bronx, I often introduced the book Brainstorm by Dr. Daniel Siegel. Even though it was a challenging text for them to get through, they were engaged with the book because it was giving them insight into the way adults looked at them. It helped them understand what was changing in their brains and effecting the way they were feeling and acting. I will summarize some of the things I shared with my students here, but if this is a topic, you think would be helpful to you or your students will find interesting, make sure to add Brainstorm to your reading list.
Myths of adolescence
The way we see adolescents becomes the way they see themselves. These misunderstandings can lead to confusion and conflict for teens and adults. Which of these myths are you familiar with?
1. Raging hormones cause teenagers to “go mad” or “lose their minds.”
According to Siegel hormones do increase, but these levels then stay consistent throughout much of adulthood. Its not the hormones that are causing behavior changes. What adolescents experience is primarily the result of natural and needed changes in their developing brains.
2. Teens are immature and need to grow up.
The risk-taking tendencies, impulsiveness, and high emotional sensitivity of teens is not a sign of immaturity but rather an outcome of exactly what they are supposed to be doing during this developmental stage—testing boundaries, creating their own view of the world, and preparing for life beyond the family home and school community.
3. Growing up requires moving from dependence on adults to total independence from them.
The healthy move to adulthood is toward interdependence, not complete do-it-yourself isolation. Giving care and receiving help from others is the model we should be supporting.
Pause, take a couple of breaths, and reflect on your own middle or high school experience. I’m sure you can understand why adolescents struggle during this time of their lives especially if the adults around them fundamentally misunderstand them. Remembering our own experience can help us be more understanding and compassionate in the interactions we have with teens.
Qualities of the adolescent mind
Dr. Siegel goes on to name the attributes of the adolescent mind as well as the benefits and challenges associated with these changes. His book also guides reader through activities that ask adolescents to reflect and bring awareness to their internal landscape, and which support healthy communication.
Increased drive for rewards and increased inner motivation to seek new experiences and feel life more fully
Enhanced peer connectedness and new friendships are explored
Emotional sensitivity increases, allowing teens to feel life experiences more intensely
Expanded sense of being leads to conceptual thinking that question status quo and approaches problems with out-of-the-box solutions
Taking these findings into account highlights why mindfulness interventions are critical at this age.
There is promising, if nascent evidence, that mindfulness can support adolescent well-being by supporting development of their prefrontal cortex (where empathy, thinking of consequences, and other executive function skills live), by enhancing their ability to focus, and helping them name and regulate their emotions. In addition, studies of adults participating in mindfulness interventions like Mindfulness Based Stressed Reduction “suggest that participation in MBSR is associated with changes in gray matter concentration in brain regions involved in learning and memory processes, emotion regulation, self-referential processing, and perspective taking.” These research studies, coupled with my experience teaching adolescent, makes it easy to argue for introducing mindfulness interventions to adolescents.
Introducing mindfulness to teens can be especially rewarding and challenging. Working with adolescents can bring to the surface the unresolved feelings and painful experiences we faced as adolescent. To be effective with this age group, we must reflect and turn to our own practice. We also have to make sure that when we offer mindfulness to adolescents it is relevant and engaging otherwise we won’t be able to truly support them.
Working with teens
Some of these apply to all age groups, but they hold special importance when working with adolescents. Adolescence spans from the ages of 12 to 24. This is one of the most confusing times of our lives, even when things are going well.
Article appeared at Art of Living Retreat Center
Argos Gonzalez is a teacher, lecturer, and mindfulness and yoga instructor. He has 14 years of experience teaching high school in the Bronx and teaches pre-service and in-service teachers at Hunter College School of Education in NY. Argos is certified through both Mindful Schools and Little Flower Yoga (LFY), and currently serves as the director of professional development for The School Yoga Project, a program of LFY and Lead Teacher for Mindful School’s Mindful Teacher yearlong certification program.
In this Blog post Dr. Harrison Graves, MD a volunteer at the Art of Living Retreat Center in beautiful North Carolina, explains us why “selfless service” is a way of life and how you can do it too.
“The best seva is helping someone understand this eternal nature of life.”
Seva is often defined as “selfless service,” service with no expectation of reward. It is that — and much more. In today’s blog I’ll share with you why I volunteer, or do seva, and suggest ways you can too. True seva is a way of life — an inner attitude of giving.
Ram Dass explains seva beautifully: “Helping out is not some special skill. It is not the domain of rare individuals. It is not confined to a single part of our lives. We simply heed the call of that natural impulse within and follow it where it leads us.” (Ram Dass was a co-founder of the Seva Foundation. Seva is best known for their work restoring eyesight to over 3 million blind people suffering from cataract blindness in places like Tibet, Nepal, Cambodia, Bangladesh, and throughout sub-Saharan Africa.)
How Seva Can Help You, the Giver
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar shares how seva also benefits the giver:
To increase our joy we must share joy with others. Giving is essential for spiritual growth. A willingness to share what we have and to help others is called seva.
Seva connects us to others and makes them a part of us. The barriers dissolve that separate our happiness from their happiness. Lingering moods of unhappiness or depression dissipate when our focus is on helping someone else.
Seva can become complementary medicine for those who suffer with anxiety and depression. Both ailments can vanish when we focus on selfless service.
How to Serve
There are endless ways of doing seva. All it takes is creativity and imagination. Make seva your way of life. If you are helping to mentor a son or daughter, that is family seva. If you adopt a pet from the shelter, that is pet seva. Anytime you willingly donate your time and love to help others, you are doing seva. And there are many such projects that Art of Living members have voluntarily taken up as a way to give back through seva. Whether it’s providing service to prison inmates or supporting schools for under-served students in the developing world or projects in your own neighborhood, there are so many ways to serve.
Service, whatever form it takes, is the flow of love from one human being to another. This desire to share is our basic nature. Sincere giving — without any expectation of return — breaks the boundaries of conditional love and expands our ability to love every human being unconditionally. Perhaps the best seva is helping someone understand this eternal nature of life.
My Experience With Seva at the Art of Living Retreat Center
Soon after beginning my seva at the Art of Living Retreat Center, I realized how much I was receiving: the opportunity to be at America’s top rated and most scenic Ayurvedic Spa, in a setting of Blue Ridge Mountain beauty. Then there is the daily Yoga, meditation, satsang and kirtan. Also, each month I am privileged to meet kindred yogi and yogini spirits from around the world, each of whom seems to have an amazing talent to share: writers, artists, musicians and Yoga/meditation teachers.
Seva at the retreat center might include helping in the kitchen, working in the organic garden or assisting at reception. During Art of Living courses, voluntary opportunities to participate in seva activities are often part of the daily routine, such as cooking, cleaning, gardening or childcare.
Service is the expression of love. Serve in whatever possible manner you can. Ask yourself, “How can I be useful to people around me, and to the whole world?” Then your heart starts blossoming and a completely new level begins. Otherwise we’re always thinking, “What about me, what about me?” It’s nothing! Ask, “How can I be useful, how can I give to the world?
Seva is our own inner joy pouring forth into action.
This Blog post originally was published here
Pic: Fire-circle at the Art of Living Retreat Center in North Carolina. See program guide
Pic: Hermann Wenng, Elemental Beings
A Sixth Sense experience
I had following experience and that was in reality just one from many, but it taught me that I can trust my sixth sense.
I was at that time of that experience 25 years old. I lived and worked on a High Plateau in the Austrian Alps which was located in magnificent landscapes surrounded by high mountains and forests. It was a foggy November day and in Austria this means autumn time. I had half a day off in the afternoon and decided on that day as like so many other days to go for a long walk alone into the forest, something I profoundly enjoyed to do in my free time. The settlement I lived in had several guesthouses, cafes and restaurants, gardens, farmland with cows and horses. I knew everyone in this settlement in which about 130 people lived. As I worked in the hospitality part, I knew the guests that stayed here over their holidays and at that time in the year we did not have many of them as the weather was not the nicest.
So I set out for my walk, which let me through a part of the very beautiful settlement and then behind the houses I would enter the forest which leads towards a path that goes through the dense forest for about 40 minutes and then open up to a street higher up on the mountain on which I could walk back to the settlement. The path in the forest was quite narrow and should ever something come up on that path from which I had to run from, there was literally no escape.
But such thoughts did not even enter my mind at that time, I fearlessly entered the forest and took in the fresh mountain air. All of a sudden I felt a strange sensation around me. Also a bird started to sing a short song and an inner perception formed itself inside of me and appeared as the sentence “This is a messenger of death” in my head.
At the same moment while this popped up in my head I had the sensation that something was stopping me from walking on. To make more sense to what I am about to say, I must explain that on that day I already in the morning at work, felt very dreamy as if I was a bit in a trance state, something that was a bit unusual for me. I did not make anything about it, as I knew in the afternoon I had my time off and could indulge in that dreamy state and daydream along. Why not.
But here I was in the forest and all of a sudden “saw” with my inner eyes shadowy beings standing themselves in my way. I have only walked into the forest for a couple of minutes and was still able to see some of the houses from the settlement I lived in.
A sense of “do not walk into the forest today” came up in me and also from these shadowy beings that stood in my way it was as if they wanted me to turn back.
The impressions made me think about turning back, but then my intellect took over, It started to criticize myself for having hallucinations and what a weirdo I am, again. I shook these impressions off and continued with my walk. But it took just a few minutes when I had the same sensation, only this time even stronger. It was to me as if figures where placing themselves in my way and urging me to turn around. Perhaps similar to the picture above, as if they were standing, waving their arms and urging me to turn back. But my head told me that as I am so dreamy today I am just fantasying and that all of that is in my own head and I again pushed these impressions away as a product of my own imagination.
So I walked on and came to a significant point on my path where it would make a sharp left turn and lead downwards into an area of the path that was quite narrow for a while and then leading slowly upwards the mountain for about 20 more minutes. I turned around this sharp corner, when all of a sudden I could see little gnomes in front of me on the forest floor. And no I have never seen anything like that before, only once when we got lost in the mountain and I was fearing for my life while climbing up a hill with dangerous, moving stones, then I also had the impression of such a being present. Here I was surprised that they appeared and their colour was similar of the surrounding earth and they frantically seemed to want to warn me from something. I had the inner perception of them screaming at me and telling me to hide behind a thick bush which they pointed me to.
I was so shocked about that experience that my first impulse was to move towards that bush on the left, but then my intellect, my head voice started to convince me otherwise, “this cannot be true, you are silly, you are fantasizing all of that, there are no gnomes”. So I stopped moving towards the bush and just stood still for a few seconds, when I all of a sudden had a severe pain in my Solar Plexus region, as if someone was pushing a large and heavy rock into my inside.
I turned around and looked back to the curve of the path I was just coming from a couple of minutes ago……… when I saw a “huge monster” coming towards me with my inner eyes. Bloodthirsty and cruel looking. “Hide, hide, hide” screamed the little gnomes. But again my head said, this cannot be real. And in that second when I was thinking that………………………..a tall muscular man came around that corner. Dressed in a beige and elegant suite in the middle of the forest, completely unsuitably dressed for an autumn walk in a mountain forest and his face was so pale it looked like a grayish white. I saw his ice cold eyes and all of a sudden I knew in my heart without any fraction of a doubt that this man wanted to harm even kill me. I felt his ice cold energy into every part of my body. This impression came in a split second and I knew from the depth of my heart that this was so. Being completely used to meeting all kinds of people in the forest the impressions I have received in that split second were completely different to anything I have ever experienced before and all in me knew that I was in serious danger.
He stood about 20 meter from me, he looked at me, I looked at him, when he all of a sudden turned to the nearby forest floor and seemed to search for something, I supposed a stick and it sounded like it as his movements made a lot of noise on the forest floor. All of that happened in the frame of seconds. I realised at that moment that all the time these helping beings worked on my intuition and worked on my finer bodies to help me recognise the upcoming danger. I also had a strong sensation of a crossroad I was on in that moment. Either life or death today. Either opening up for this invisible help, or being murdered today. Either eventually trusting my inner voice or dying as I only believe in my intellect.
In the background I heard this man frantically searching on the forest floor under the autumn leaves, while I started to pray now consciously for help. I said something like that: You helped me all along and tried to warn me, please help me now so I can escape this danger. And I seemed to hear or perceive internally the following guidance: “E……. now you can prove your trust. Walk TOWARDS THAT MAN, we surround you with light, start walking now and pass him and don’t look into his eyes. I repeat don’t look into this man’s eyes. Walk now. When you have passed him, run for your life. “
I pushed at that moment consciously everything away that my head wanted to direct me to, as to now walk towards that man, with these cruel looking eyes, and this long stick in his hand and now he had also already moved towards me and was nearer to me but standing there as if waiting for something, was the last thing my head wanted to do. I trusted in the help that was apparently around me all the time and the help from Above and I walked calmly towards this man. I had the sensation as if a Wall of Light was building around me from these helpers of the finer world.
This man was so surprised that I walked towards him instead of running away from him,that he stood there, not moving. I kept my face calm and completely peaceful, only focusing and connecting to the help I felt and that light that surrounded me and although being aware of my incredibly fear as well, I did not allow that fear to come into my being as I knew it would destroy that wall of light, but to hold onto that help that I felt and I passed him by, and how I was advised I did not look into his eyes. When I passed him I physically felt that the Wall of Light was so strong around me that nothing could enter it and I feel that sensation when I think on it, still in all details today. When I passed this man for some reason all was dead silence around us and that man did not move an inch. I passed him and then I started to run. I did run for 15 minutes without looking back until I reached the settlement. I knew would I had try to run away from him into the other direction, I would not had a chance to find any help as the path was only leading deeper into the forest. When I returned to the settlement, I entered into the place where I lived and also worked and one of my co-workers saw me in the foyer of the house, looking at me and asking, “What on earth happened to you?” as I was shaking so much, I felt completely traumatized, I started to cry and they brought a nurse to look after me. I told her what happened. I was allowed to have a day off and my superiors who were very friendly and helpful people talked to me about that incident. Police were informed and I gave a description, which in turn then resulted in a warning to everyone that for the time being no one should go for walks in the forest alone especially not women.
For myself this experience had such a profound effect on me, that I always started to have symptoms of a panic attack for years while passing that place in the forest where this man searched for the stick and where I passed him, when I was walking with my husband or friends in the forest, as from that day on I would not go for walks in the forest alone for a long time. Heart racing, tension, my solar plexus started to feel very upset etc. Until I assimilated that experience and understood, that when I would had listened to these fine warnings right from the start, I would not had come into such a situation at all. Then I returned to my walks again but this time with an open intuition.
I know that many people have similar experiences in their life, when they out of the blue feel energetic reality whereas there is no physical prove or indication of any danger on the physical level. It sensitized me a lot in regards to these finer energy levels that we are continuously connected with, and although I am aware that this was now a long and somewhat unusual example and although I am aware that there is no need to “see” gnomes or similar I hope someone can find it useful.
Author: Edeltraud Grace email@example.com
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This article originally appeared on artoflivingretreatcenter.org/blog
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