Be a Relationship Catalyst

Who are you really?

This is the question that has made many of us get to where we are today. If we are not the body and we are not even the mind, who are we really?

We are created with a name, not the one our parents gave us at birth, but the name we bring by nature, the personal print that characterises our own life from others, the reason why we were born in a certain place, with certain parents or without them, and certain circumstances around.

I believe that we come to this life in order to define who we really are. Each of our life experiences help us recognize our true nature, we are not alone, we are interdependent, not in a sense that we can’t live without others, but in a sense that we search for connection in order to feel SAFE. We also want to take care of others, and in exchange we will accomplish our life purpose.

Everybody is a reflection of you, and the Universe brings exactly what you need, when you need it. Each of them brings a message for personal GROWTH, only if we are ready and aware of that, we can take it as an opportunity instead of an obstacle for self-realization. For example, I hear a lot of people saying: “I regret all the time I lost with that person” instead of saying: “I thank that person for showing me the parts I don’t like about myself”.

Finding what “I” is, open up infinite possibilities for engaging in better and fulfilling relationships. Think about what part of yourself you want to show up. Be and decide who you really are because you can’t give something you don’t have. If you are searching for someone special, you need to become someone special.

What’s the right direction?

If personal interactions are fundamental part of life, it’s our duty to create the most powerful experiences possible. The meaning behind this is to discover where I am going and with whom, therefore, we have the freedom to decide everything we want, to design and create our present moment according to our basic needs and the desire of finishing the job of self-discovery, which is never-ending by the way…

As human beings we have two main characteristics by nature: self-control and love. We are not meant to be weak, this is a reality! You are the life to renew yourself no matter what you’ve been going through!

Self-control is supremacy of power, authority and strength over yourself. We need to say “no” to negative people and negative environments. It takes something to let go of everything that keep us away from being happy, and this is courage to reject what no longer serves us. But again, we need to know our limits, our weaknesses and strengths first.

Loving ourselves does not mean that we are becoming selfish, loving ourselves instead means that we choose only positive to come to us. Love from a compassionate mind requires loving without expectations. And here I want to share my point of view regardless expectations; having no expectations doesn’t mean that we are expecting to complete ourselves with others; or that we don’t need anything from anybody, but that we find ourselves complete and we are ready to share our completeness with others. We all have something to share: time, knowledge, space, interests… that’s why we decide to connect with others and share what we treasure the most.

Find the balance

“Be the change you want to see in others”. To become a catalyst you need to understand that the only person you can change is yourself. We spend most of our time trying to change people and things around us, but the fact is that we are losing our time. If you do something, do it for a reason.

A good friend of mine always reminds me of relating with nourishing and positive people no matter what’s my final goal, he also encourages me to find a real motivation in new projects. The energy I use in daily life for working, volunteering, dating, helping family and friends should be full of power and love. And don’t forget to give yourself.

“Let go and let it be”. Just because you decide to become more open and tolerant doesn’t mean you don’t care about it. If you keep a good perspective, you develop the ability to respond instead of react, avoiding unnecessary stress and arguments, give you the free pass for assertive communication and the right to express yourself better about your feelings and needs, leaving behind guilt and frustration.

Actions for lifetime relationships

Creating positive bonds is not so hard, after you find the right balance and decide who you want to be. It is time to try out your inner wisdom and start correcting your habits to keep that balance and not get out of track. How can we make it easier?

1. Pleasant: let go of the ego, stop trying to be right about everything, specially when it comes to the relationship with your partner or spouse. It’s okay to be angry at someone for a moment but ask yourself the reason why you are feeling that way. A simple “you are right, I’m sorry” bonds you to one another.
2. Positive speech: your ability to speak is one of the ways to connect. Be aware of giving compliments and gratitude to your beloved ones. Laughing, having a good sense of humour, making plans for a social meeting, as well as the tone of voice you use is a part of the mindset that you need to feel good and make others enjoy the time together.
3. Compromise: as I said before, you can’t complete yourself with someone, it’s necessary to give space and proper communication. Everyone has their own needs and opinions, we must respect each other and share their interest or at least motivate them to follow dreams and aspirations.
4. Acceptance: when you see someone as they truly are, you see their good and bad habits, automatically you stay present to the nature of life, and you stop the need to change someone.
5. Be calm: make an effort to be mindful, cultivate inner peace at all times, be the role-model for everyone around you. Make your mind neutral to all senses as all the things we enjoy with our senses will die or end some time in the future. Holding on to them will delay the purification of the mind.

“How deeply you touch another life is how rich your life is.”
-Sadhguru

How to practice patience when facing negative emotions?

I like to define patience as peace + science, or in other words, the science of peace.

Patience is the ability to overcome challenges without reacting with anger. You can show patience with a good attitude in front of life difficulties. Being patient is also the comprehension of life facts without forcing anything or anyone, without getting attached to anything or anyone, without any effort.

If the patience is part of our natural state, why do we “lose” it?

Patience is lost as we allow what does not correspond to our real nature. The enemies of patience are negative emotions such as ANGER AND HATE, which bring suffering. These negative emotions are created in the mind because the mind is like a sponge; it absorbs both the positive and the negative, unfortunately, it is proven that the mind absorbs more quickly the negative than the positive.

In the world we live in, we receive daily hate messages such as wars, abandonment, and injustice. In social networks and television, they show us a reality full of falsehood and materialism called “mass consumption“. All of this is absorbed and accumulated by mind daily. It is as if the mind were a glass of water and each negative thought is a drop of ink that falls into the water and becomes cloudy and dark.

When we faced difficult situations, the mind is cloudy and dark and, instead of responding assertively, it reacts with anger and hatred.

If something happens that I do not want, I get angry …

When someone says or does something that I do not like, I get angry …

When situations do not go as I expected, I get angry …

If we analyze this pattern, there is always “something” or “someone” that “steals” our peace or patience. If we let everything that happens around affect us, we end up suffering. And this is because we are so dissatisfied with life that we always want something more and we do not even know what that something is.

As the Chilean psychiatrist Claudio Naranjo says: “People find it difficult to be happy because they think happiness is to be happy with everyone and everything, be happy and nothing more, laugh at everything. But if we could realize that happiness is to be serene. And that serenity is obtained when one is on the path he chose. Not exactly because he does well, that would be very easy. But we expect so much from the happiness that we have made it impossible.”

In order to end the suffering caused by anger and hatred, we need to change our DESIRES. Desires are another cause of suffering, and uncontrollable desires can lead to death. People hurt themselves, self-flagellate, suffer from depression, anxiety and end up losing patience altogether.

We all face obstacles; if they have a solution, there is no reason to be angry, and if they do not have it, how does it benefit us to get angry?

But here is something important, NOT all suffering is bad, the small daily sufferings that affect us physically and emotionally, such as pain and illness, also prepare us to endure great adversities. If we become familiar with the challenges every day, we become stronger, and it becomes easier and easier to solve them.

How to cultivate patience?

One of the most effective ways to cultivate patience is to have TRUST, trusting that everything we need comes to us at the time and in the right way, without any effort. This we can call waiting, “wait patiently.” If we return to the example of the glass with water, if we let the ink settle in the bottom of the glass, we can see clearly and choose to respond assertively to the challenges, instead of getting angry.

Confidence allows us to understand that everything arrives at the perfect moment and time. For some strange reason, humans have developed the need to control everything, including others. This creates great disappointments of how life is according to what we expect from it. Through the practice of trust, we let everything flow without the need to control; flow with life is much more relaxed and effective than go against the flow!

One of the best ways to cultivate that natural state of patience is by means of meditation. Meditation is an exercise for the mind, which is, as I mentioned earlier, the source of negative emotions and uncontrollable desires. Meditation allows us to:

-Learn how to deal with our thoughts and emotions

-Connect with our natural state of inner peace

-Clean the impurities of the mind

-Control the desires

-Accept the nature of the world that is UNCONTROLLABLE

3 affirmations to cultivate patience

After recognizing the origin of the loss of patience and understanding that we can control our desires to stop suffering, we can pause and transform our life experience into a conscious experience of peace and serenity. Positive affirmations are the opposite of the negative thought patterns that we normally use and are the starting point for personal development.

For this reason, I want to share the following affirmations to cultivate patience in all areas of life:

  • Practice acceptance

Today I accept the people, situations, and circumstances as they occur. I know that this moment is as it should be because the whole universe is as it should be. I will not fight against the whole universe by fighting against this moment. I accept things as they are and not as I want them to be.

  • Take responsibility

Today I take responsibility for my situation and for all the events that I see as challenges. I avoid blaming others or myself. I recognize that every challenge is a disguised opportunity, which allows me to take this moment and transform it for my growth and expansion.

  • Remain defenseless

Today, I renounce my point of view, and I have no need to persuade others to accept my opinions. I remain open to all points of view and I am not rigidly attached to any of them. I choose to be kind before being right.

Would you like to know more about meditation? Please follow here.

Honra tu verdad y siéntete feliz

Los seres humanos llegamos al mundo con total pureza y con la verdad más sincera de quiénes somos. Llegamos como un vaso completamente vacío que a medida que nos hacemos mayores, vamos llenando con mensajes que escuchamos de nuestro alrededor.

Estos mensajes con los que llenamos el vaso, terminan siendo nuestra personalidad. Por este motivo, podemos afirmar que dicha personalidad no somos nosotros en estado puro, sino que es el resultado de una mezcla de situaciones de nuestro entorno. A la vez, nos damos cuenta que nuestra personalidad no es algo con lo que nacemos, sino que es algo que creamos para amoldarnos a lo que nos rodea.

A veces ese carácter que creamos y ponemos dentro del vaso, no se parece en nada a nuestra verdadera esencia. Cuando esto pasa, nos sentimos vacíos e infelices sin saber muy bien por qué. A mi esto también me pasó, y te lo cuento en el siguiente link.

En estos casos, debemos verter del vaso lo que nos molesta y llenarlo con lo que realmente nos hace sentir realizados.

A continuación, comento unos consejos que ayudan a conectar de nuevo con nuestro YO más auténtico, el YO de verdad:

-Hacer lo que se dice y decir lo que se hace

Muchos son los que ya han escuchado antes esta frase, pero realmente decirla no permite sentirse mejor, es integrarla en nuestras células y actuar de esta manera lo que marca el cambio. Las personas que se han tomado esta frase en serio, han experimentado verdaderos milagros en sus vidas.

-Seguir nuestros valores

Muchas personas hablan de valores, pero pocos saben qué son realmente los valores y lo más importante: cuáles son los suyos. Nuestros valores son nuestras prioridades, aquello que para nosotros es tan importante.

Hay que decir que no todas las personas tenemos los mismos valores y esto está bien, porque lo importante es que cada uno de nosotros actuemos según los nuestros.

Por ejemplo, una persona que considera el valor de la libertad como muy relevante, le puede costar trabajar en una oficina donde le dicen lo que tiene que hacer y qué horario seguir en todo momento. Le dolerá seguir en este trabajo porque no tendrá la libertad que tanto aprecia. De todas maneras, este trabajo sigue siendo ideal y perfecto para otra persona.

-Decir siempre la verdad sin miedo

Esconder la verdad, significa no honrarla. No debemos tener miedo a no ser queridos, aceptados o gustados por otros, al fin y al cabo, no tenemos que gustar a todo el mundo. Pero si nos aceptamos, nos queremos y nos respectamos a nosotros mismos, ya tendremos el apoyo de la persona que más necesitamos.

-No decir sí cuando se quiere decir no

Muchas veces respondemos que sí para complacer a otra persona, pero realmente después nos arrepentimos y no nos sentimos a gusto. Decir que no apetece o que no se quiere, no significa hacer daño a nadie, siempre tenemos la opción de decir no con compasión y palabras amables.

-Responder en vez de reaccionar

La diferencia entre responder y reaccionar se encuentra únicamente en 3 segundos. Contar hasta 3 antes de dar una respuesta, permite dejar el tiempo suficiente para escuchar y contestar lo que realmente somos.

-Eliminar “tengo que” del vocabulario

La verdad es que no tenemos que hacer absolutamente nada, nosotros hemos elegido hacer lo que vamos a hacer. Así que podemos cambiar perfectamente el “tengo que” por el “yo elijo”. Cuando decimos “no puedo venir porque tengo que trabajar”, en realidad, esta es sencillamente la opción que hemos preferido.

Una persona auténtica es aquella que siempre honra su verdad y sabe que tiene elección de tener y hacer todo lo que le plazca en cada momento. Una persona auténtica se responsabiliza de su vida y crea su propia historia. Una persona auténtica abraza sin miedo el papel del jugador, el áarbitro y el juez en su vida porque está convencida de qué ella mejor que nadie puede afrontar todos estos papeles.

Una persona auténtica únicamente escucha su verdad, porque es la única que le permite sentirse libre y feliz.

Hay más información sobre el camino hacia nuestra verdad aquí.

How I started my Journey to Inner peace

Light of peace.

How does it feel to ask for something and then, somehow, in some way,  it’s given to you?  How does it feel when you just need it and then you have it? How does it feel when your inner voice is heard by the universe that conspires to make you accomplished? What if what you asked for wasn’t a lot of money or fame but only peace and stillness of the mind in the middle of a life full of stress, wars, anxiety and selfishness? This is the story of my journey to inner peace at Heya Fellowship.

“I want to rest! I need a rest.”

I remember myself in the staff room in the hospital I do my training in. I was tired, out of breath, thinking about how I have to see the patients, then go to the university for my master degree exams before meeting my professor for my PhD. Afterwards, I would go home to find the house shores waiting for me and in the middle of all this not forget to call my family to make sure everybody is doing alright. Later I would meet my friends because I have a social life too. While thinking, I felt exhausted and I closed my eyes and said a prayer: “I want to rest! I need a rest. “

An opportunity to rest and learn

The same evening while on social media I came across a  link of the “Heya Fellowship “by Peace Revolution. The name gave me the curiosity to learn more about it over the internet. A self development program; meditating everyday while listening to the calm voice of the peaceful inspiring meditation professor through accessible videos on the platform; having a coach to share my daily unique experience of meditation, was new to me. And here it began, a new experience of life, a new vision, like diving into the unknown but the safe secure unknown that was getting clearer day after day.

After getting engaged with the program, I was honored to participate in the Heya Fellowship, the peace retreat for women from The MENA region.  Despite all the challenges that I faced in the process of travelling; there was a force that made everything possible for me to get to Georgia. It was like a power from above was helping arrange everything. Because I believe that things get attracted to you in the same way you are attracted to them. And if you want something so much, you will absolutely have it.

Meeting strange beautiful women I knew before

I arrived in Georgia and once there, met beautiful strong women, the other participants. I was so familiar to them as if I knew them a long time ago. It didn’t take so long for us to connect, laugh and share ideas together. We shared about our stories,  our experiences in life, where we came from, and our inner peace journey.

The first day was wonderful getting to know better the MENA women. Then the adventure just began. They took our cell phones as expected. Yes; its bliss to take a break from being always contactable and accessible on social media. When you come to Heya, you are here to rest, to know yourself better, to leave the past behind, and get into your journey to inner peace. Whenever you miss someone, you would see this person in your mind, your heart, your dreams, in the zone that no one can have access to except you. This is a zone you have neglected a good time of your life. The zone which is your inner self, inside and always there when everything is gone.

Each day at the retreat center

With no electronic devices, we woke up every day at 5 am to meditate in the sweet fresh breeze of the green garden of the scout center we were staying in. At this time, while listening to the birds singing gratefully to the beginning of a new day, I could feel the air and the light, it felt like swimming. During the meditation, you just have no weight, you are like a feather, like a butterfly. Then came the yoga class, stretching the muscles of the body, all of them, even the tiny little ones always forgotten in the crowded days of life. They are all breathing, happy to be there with you and to be felt. Then we would have breakfast in the dining room, full of energy, full of love, full of power to share. We would face each other, smiling as we shared delicious food that we brought each one from our country. Each day, every day, one amazing lady would presents to us the sweets she brought, its name and how it can be made.

Afterwards each day brought with it energizing activities, women circles and other meditation sessions full of calmness, relief, belief in peace, life, love, and every good value of this life offered. The women were like angels. Every time one of them would say unforgettable words to empower, encourage, and make us stronger. With each word, we became more confident, filled with the love of life and new way of seeing life afresh.

The little girl grew up

I was a little girl before joining the Peace Revolution meditation retreat. During the retreat, I grew up. The two unstoppable invincible women Aseel and Nesreen made the retreat magical and successful. They taught me how to be active, well organized, and ambitious. The greatness of what they were doing and how they were conscious of it did a lot inside of me. Further, every woman, especially Jehan with her spirit and her lectures and also late night stories just lifted me up like Helium.

LP Pasura our teaching monk made the retreat insightful. He was like a godfather to us, full of wisdom, experiences of life, intelligence and eloquence. His ability to let us express all what was inside of us brought the best of everyone of us. He gave us lectures, guided us through meditation sessions, answered our questionings, our fears and anxieties. This gave us the relief that we could shout loud and scream all what was inside of us and turn it into a light of peace, goodness and share.

Guidelines to nurture inner peace at the retreat

In those five days, we were followed eight acts of self discipline:

  • Do not kill or hurt any creature even the tiniest one
  • Do not steal or use what is not your belonging
  • Do not use intoxicants, alcohol or drugs
  • Do not involve in romantic or sexual relationships
  • Do not speak too loud or too much
  • Do not use electronic devices like phone cells
  • Do not eat heavy meals after 12:30 pm
  • Do not use make up or dress extravagantly

Those acts helped us be more of who we are, basic like babies, a pure reminder of how we can be in everyday life.

The five days of self discovery, inner peace, heart centered talks, being free from material things that owe us, passed so fast like a beautiful dream. With each passing day, the little girl who used to do everything without feeling it just because it has to be done, has started to feel every single breath and every movement she makes. She is finding peace inside of her and beginning and feeling engaged to spread it to everybody else.

My final lesson to you, dear peaceful soul reading my inner peace journey

  • Truly be who you are even if you are different in an acceptable way. You are just special. You are magical. You are invincible and you are not chocolate you can not satisfy everyone and you are not supposed to be trying to do so.
  • Do everything in your life mindfully, do not let life pass you by, feel every little thing you are doing.
  • Be grateful everyday because every day is a new chance for you to be who you want to be, to make the world a better place.
  • Find peace within yourself and spread it to the whole world.
  • Believe in yourself, in the good inside of every human being, have faith in humanity, it can be saved, it can be better.
  • It’s a magical life every day, every moment, feel it and live it fully.

How Human Rights Contribute to Peace

people holding heart together

After a long day at work, many of us have the privilege to go home, take a hot shower, cook dinner, and sleep in a warm bed. For those of us who live a life of relative comfort and have our basic needs met, it can be hard to imagine what life would be like if we weren’t so lucky. What would the day look like without these basic things?

We might sleep outside on the street, hungry or even sick. Things as simple as consistent access to food and shelter are not a given for many people around the world. Without access to basic human rights, feeling at peace is unlikely to happen.

Peaceful people make up a peaceful society, and peaceful societies make up a peaceful world. Since scarcity often leads to conflict, societies that support their citizens by providing them with healthcare, education, food, and shelter, are generally more peaceful and prosperous than those who don’t.

What Is Peace?

Understanding what peace means is essential if we want to understand why it is so important — especially if peace is something we take for granted in our day-to-day lives.

At an International Day of Peace celebration organized by Peace Revolution Cameroon, participants from various countries weighed in with different definitions of peace. The word was defined in many ways, including “the respect for life and fellow human beings” and “freedom from disturbance.”

Peace might mean different things to different people around the globe, but it’s clear that without peaceful individuals, we cannot have a peaceful world.

Most Peaceful Countries

According to 2017 data released by the Institute for Economics and Peace, the United States ranks 114th out of 163 in a list of the world’s most peaceful countries.

“Data highlighted a declining level of trust in the U.S. government, as well as growing social problems such as income inequality, heightened racial tensions and rising homicide rates in several major American cities,” writes Megan Trimble in “The 10 Most Peaceful Countries in the World” to explain why the US ranked so low.

Which country tops the list? According to Trimble’s U.S. News article, it’s Iceland — a place where discrimination is illegal and citizens have access to universal healthcare. Iceland is widely regarded as a leader in human rights. The United States, on the other hand, demonstrates that it values capitalism over the well-being of its citizens. The success of Iceland and the problems in the U.S. clearly show that human rights are deeply linked to peace.

Challenges

There are many barriers to peace in today’s world. The unrest in the United States is a great example of what happens when a country doesn’t protect the basic human rights of its citizens. In the fight for peace, protest signs are as common a sight these days as birds in the sky.

Social workers have defined 12 major challenges that need to be overcome to create a better world. These challenges include making sure that everyone has access to healthcare, helping homeless individuals find dependable and affordable housing and food, and ensuring that all people have equal opportunities to pursue education. Let’s take a closer look at these challenges:

1) Access to Healthcare

In some countries (including the United States), healthcare is a privilege, not a right. Money, location, mobility, and availability can all be barriers to receiving medical care. As the need for chronic care increases, the elderly are especially vulnerable to lack of care.

Discrimination also impacts access to healthcare. Low-income communities often have limited access to healthcare facilities. Given the racial makeup of such areas, this is often a form of discrimination in and of itself. Healthcare providers could discriminate on the basis of gender, race, sexual orientation, economic class, religion, individuals with pre-existing conditions, and more. In areas where there is a dearth of medical professionals, this lack of choice poses a serious problem for minorities.

2) Access to Food and Shelter

It’s hard to achieve peace of any kind when you are hungry, tired, and don’t know where you’ll sleep at night. Food deserts and lack of affordable and accessible housing options are huge barriers to health and peace worldwide.

3) Access to Education

Education is one of the best ways to improve your personal options for success. But because of money, discrimination, and availability, not everyone has access to education. Oftentimes, lack of education means lack of job opportunities. In turn, that can lead to additional struggles like financial stress and trouble affording food and housing.

Solutions

Healthy bodies and minds are a part of the foundation of peace. Without them, people cannot thrive. So what do we do? To have a peaceful society, we must turn these challenges into solutions.

Positive change can take place in the very sectors that are often barriers, including classrooms, medical buildings, law offices, and social communities. Getting involved in any of these areas is a great way to help create a healthier and a more peaceful world.


This is a collaborative post supporting our Peace In Peace Out initiative.

Fulfilling Changes to Improve Your Lifestyle

What does it mean to feel fulfilled? For each person, the answer may be different. You might not find a specific “answer” at all, or it may be fleeting, changing often, or stemming from some unknown source. However, there are small adjustments you can make to your behaviour and the way you interact with the world around you that could help maintain a healthy, happy mindset. Here are some strategies for finding satisfaction in many areas of your life.

1. Organize Your Spaces

With the busy lifestyle many of us lead, it’s easy for things to begin to pile up.  Letting your home and work spaces get out of control can happen in small increments and may seem like a low priority at the time. However, researchers and philosophers have pointed to a connection between the physical environment we create for ourselves and our emotional well-being.

Put simply, your physical environment may be a reflection of your state of mind. If you leave your clothes strewn in piles on the floor, maybe even stepping on them, does that mean you don’t care about your appearance? Maybe not, but it’s a habit that might form from convenience, laziness, or necessity, and you might not even think about how it affects you on a subconscious level.

Consider the same sort of question about leaving dirty dishes in the sink, keeping your books in odd stacks, losing important papers in piles, or allowing clutter of any kind to accumulate. At some point, these areas may become confusing and unusable.

Disorder impacts everyone at some point. Especially in the wake of life changes and other distractions, small tasks and responsibilities can slip out of sight. However, if you make a point to be aware of your physical spaces and intentionally work to keep them clean, clear, and organized, you can achieve a better peace of mind and create a more positive relationship with your home.

Consider trying out minimalistic storage and organization strategies in order to simplify your home. Practicing minimalism doesn’t mean you have to get rid of everything you own. Instead, you can take less drastic steps to declutter your home – one area at a time – and create habits that will make it easier to maintain these spaces in the long term.

For example, you might start by sorting out clothes you haven’t worn in a long time and deciding if they are really something you plan to wear or if they should be donated. Paring down your wardrobe to the most essential items will reduce the confusion you might face when choosing an outfit. With this space cleared, you’ll eventually buy more clothes, but it’s possible to choose items that will fit well with your downsized wardrobe.

When purging items from various areas of your home, a best practice is to consider whether the object truly makes you happy or if it’s just taking up space. Whether it’s a chair that isn’t comfortable anymore or a piece of art that doesn’t bring you joy, clearing space can allow for new opportunities and a simpler, more fulfilling home life.

2. Get Some Exercise, Even Small Amounts

Just as our homes can fall into disarray, it’s easy to neglect our bodies and miss out on the effects self-care can have on our physical and mental health. Exercising regularly is something most of us know we should do, yet it can feel like a chore — even when it stands to reduce anxiety and depression, as well as improve mobility, physical health, and appearance.

It’s difficult to find the time and motivation. However, starting small is the key here. Even taking a brisk walk for 10 minutes in the morning could help you begin creating a fitness routine without requiring a gym membership or extensive planning.

If you think you simply hate all exercise, it might be because you haven’t found the right activity for you. The most obvious exercises that come to mind are things like lifting weights, running, and bodyweight exercises like push-ups and sit-ups. Going out of your way to perform these activities might not sound like fun, which means you’re less likely to keep up a steady routine.

Instead, you can get a solid workout from activities like yoga, hiking, gardening, swimming, dancing, cycling, and even shopping. Instead of forcing yourself to do something you don’t enjoy, try experimenting with some of these fun exercises or anything that gets your body moving.

3. Be Mindful of What You Eat

Like exercise, maintaining healthy eating habits can be challenging. Many people choose to go on specific diets because they want to lose weight or change their appearance, while others might go on a diet to combat medical conditions like diabetes. The sheer number of diets and nutritional fads available can be overwhelming and may seem too restrictive. However, healthy eating habits don’t have to revolve around any goal bigger than simply giving your body the nutrients it needs.

Rather than starving yourself or choosing an extremely restrictive meal plan, the best way to promote a healthy body and mind is to focus on a balanced diet. This doesn’t have to be complicated. Simply put, a balanced diet involves eating some of each of the following food groups:

  • Whole grains, such as pasta, bread, and cereals. When choosing these products, look for “whole” or “whole grain” on the packaging’s nutritional information.
  • Fruits and vegetables that are rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Broccoli, sweet potatoes, spinach, bananas, apples, and blueberries are all great choices.
  • Protein helps to build and repair tissues in the body. You can get protein from meat, fish, eggs, beans, soy products, and nuts.
  • Dairy, which provides calcium for healthy bones and teeth. Yogurt, cheese, and low-fat milk are a good place to start.
  • Fats help your body absorb certain vitamins, improve your energy, and contribute to brain health. Try to limit the saturated fats you’ll find in fatty meats and fried foods as these can lead to heart disease. Instead, aim to eat unsaturated fats that are present in avocados, nuts, and oily fish.

You may already eat some of these on a regular basis, but making a point to include each of these can make a huge difference in your life. In addition to understanding the major food groups, here are some general strategies for eating a healthy diet.

  • Pay attention to your hunger levels and aim to eat until you are full, not until you are completely stuffed.
  • Try to eat mostly fresh foods, avoiding processed foods when possible. Processed foods often contain added ingredients like dyes and preservatives. In some cases, the act of processing foods can destroy nutrients.
  • Limit added sugars whenever possible as these can lead to heart problems, weight gain, blood sugar imbalances, and other medical conditions. It’s okay to enjoy a sugary foods occasionally, but next time you’re craving a sweet treat, try reaching for fruits instead of cookies or ice cream. (Mixing yogurt and berries is my go-to dessert!)

4. Don’t Avoid Professional Help

It’s difficult to be happy when we’re not well. Too often, we wait until an injury or illness becomes unbearable before seeking medical attention. By that time, the condition is likely much worse than when you first noticed it. This makes the condition more difficult for doctors to treat, creates longer recovery times, and causes you more suffering in the long term.

In some cases, waiting too long to seek professional help can result in irreversible effects. For example, early detection of lung cancer can mean the difference between life and death. This is true for many forms of cancer and other serious diseases, and unfortunately when symptoms begin to show, it may be too late to treat them effectively.

Seeking medical attention may seem scary and expensive. However, consider that talking to a doctor is less scary than becoming deathly ill. It also costs much less to treat a condition early rather than paying for expensive treatments and surgeries later.

Instead, seeking out opportunities for preventative healthcare can allow nurses and doctors to catch conditions in their early stages and create a more effective treatment plan. Preventative healthcare includes regular checkups, blood tests, physical examinations, and immunizations. Even if you aren’t sick or noticing symptoms, a medical professional may notice patterns in your health that point to a specific, preventable or manageable condition.

Beyond in-person visits, new technologies in the medical field are helping healthcare providers better track, treat, and communicate with patients. For example, wearable health trackers and mobile apps can report changes in a condition remotely and in real time. This allows doctors to shift their approach to treating an illness on a moment-to-moment basis without forcing you to visit the hospital so often. Similarly, telemedicine options including phones, email, and other remote communications can allow healthcare providers to communicate with people who may live far away from a medical facility or specialist.

5. Take Part in the World Around You

This may be the most important thing you can do to improve your life. It’s too easy to shut out the world around us, especially when we’re busy. You may move from task to task, from home to work, and back, day after day. But it’s important to take time for yourself — to do something out of the ordinary to wake up from the repetitive cycle. This could be as subtle or drastic as you like.

For example, you may normally spend a lot of your downtime on your smartphone. You might be listening to music, watching shows or movies, or scrolling through a never-ending stream of social media posts. These activities are convenient, and it’s nice to tune out from time to time. However, if you’re always on your phone, your mind never has a chance to rest and you’re more likely to ignore the people and places around you.

The effects of overusing social media, in particular, can be subtle yet devastating. Because of the ways people present themselves online, social media can distort your self-image and lower your self-esteem. You may feel disappointed when you compare your life to other people’s photos of extravagant meals and vacation spots. You can also compete with yourself in a negative way if you struggle to live up to the exciting life you’ve presented online. And, of course, spending all your time taking photos and thinking up clever taglines can distract you from what’s happening around you.

You don’t have to give up social media altogether, but planning a week out of each month when you won’t use social media can help reset your brain and help bring you back in touch with the world around you. If taking a week off is too big of a step, at least be conscious of how much time you spend in the digital world and try to be present in your surroundings.

Sometimes you need to get away from your routine and surroundings altogether, and travelling is one of the best things you can do to invigorate your life and interact with the world. There are so many beautiful places to see, and each can offer you the chance to immerse yourself in the unfamiliar, learn about new cultures, sample exotic dishes, and take in breathtaking landscapes.

Travelling can be a life-changing event that will help shift your perspective for years to come. Having found a new way to see the world, you can come back home refreshed and better able to accept the challenges and the beauty of your daily life.

How Mindfulness Can Irreversibly Change Your Life

So what is mindfulness? Everybody uses this term, but do we really know what it means? A mindful person is someone who lives in the present while calmly accepting their feelings and thoughts, and uses them as a therapeutic technique.

Living in a state of mindfulness is not something you can achieve overnight. It’s not a magic trick that you can perform and transform your entire life in just a second. It’s a journey of self-discovery that might take one year or fifty years.  It doesn’t matter; all the matters is the process. This is how you live in the present.

You Are Not Your Thoughts

A few years ago when I was practicing mindfulness, I’ve received a powerful insight. While I was meditating I had a powerful vision. I saw my whole life revealed in front of my eyes. I understood that time is nothing more than an illusion. We like to think about the past and the future as something that has an influence over us. But that’s totally false. “Live in the present!” is what everybody tells us.

But how?

Just forget about everything that has happened until this moment and focus only on what you are doing NOW. Feel good about yourself while doing it. Only then you will understand that your thoughts do not define you. They are only passing mental phenomena. Try doing the following exercise:  Find yourself the perfect position, relax, and just watch your thoughts. Don’t hang on to them, just let them fly.

You Stop Stressing for the Small Stuff

We are constantly stressing about unimportant stuff. Our child draws on the wall and we are almost having a heart attack. We care so much about every insignificant detail that we forget to look at the bigger picture. We are draining our energy on nonsensical stuff without even thinking. We are programmed from birth to react like this.

It’s not our fault that we are like this, but it is our duty to change and embrace our true reality. Let me tell you a little secret. Everything that happens in our life is something good that is meant to point us in the right direction. We are always growing, so embrace each moment as something that brings you new growing opportunities.

You Appreciate Things More

Paying attention to all the details that surround us can be done only if we manage to maintain a calm and relaxed state of mind. We are always in a rush, but why? We always feel like there is something more to be done or that we haven’t done enough.

Have you ever tried watching a tree grow? What kind of question is this? Who would have time to do something like that? You see, here is the problem. We think that we don’t have time, but time is an illusion. Beauty is everywhere, watch it, feel it and embrace it. When there is beauty inside, there is beauty outside.

Photo credits: http://bit.ly/2HZPgNu

You Understand and Develop Compassion

Some say that awareness and compassion is the same thing. That might be true. Being aware of the present moment will make you much more attentive to the world around you. When we are living in the moment, we are more in tune with other people experiences. We start to understand that everything is connected and that we are all one single organism. So, we help other people, not because we have to, but because we understand that their pain is our pain.

You Learn the Art of Acceptance

We are spending most of our days fighting the present moment, instead of accepting it completely. We are spending time judging every event that’s happening to us, rather than figuring out a way of using it to expand our perception.  Living in a state of mindfulness gives you the opportunity to accept everything that’s around you. You understand that every living being is a part of you, and hurting them will mean hurting yourself.

Acceptance means that you do not resist anything; you embrace it and transform it. Going against the tide will not do any good to you. Because if you manage to understand that you are everything and everyone, you will also understand that you can’t fight yourself.

Conclusion

Living in the moment is your true nature, and everything else is just an illusion. The past and the future are only illusive constructs made especially to restrain your mind from growing. We live like this since our birth. It’s time to wake up and see the world for what it is. Everything that moves and breaths is a part of us, and our duty, as intelligent beings, is to cherish and protect it.

Photo credits: http://bit.ly/2oG6jv0

Practice Locally, Love Globally: Survival Guide For Liquid Times

liquid times

On staying sane in times of change. Part III (part I , part II )

When we go through transformative experiences such as an important trip, moving to another country, starting a new career path, becoming a parent, falling in/out of love, – we stop being “somebody”, the one we were before. We enter into a new dimension of ourselves which is unknown and more expansive than the previous one. This expansion is experienced in many levels at the same time (you became a parent and your house is not the same anymore, the empty room is now the room of the baby, you discover your impressive nurturing and loving capacity, and your patience, and how good is your partner in supporting – or not etc.) and comes with this new “identity” of yours.

When it comes about spiritual practice, the expansion beyond one’s known identity is also present, and one finds that deep meditation experiences are always described with the same words: “softness”, “lightness”, “indescribable peace”, “emptiness”, “centered”, “expanded” among experienced meditators. It´s like if everyone gets to the same headspace. As if profound experiences don´t differ much from one person to another. But how come that two different individuals have almost the same inner experience while going deep into meditation? One can say that, framing it in a structural perspective, the “somebody” – the one who meditates – becomes “nobody” – the one who experiences all the possibilities within without identification – and because is nobody, is everyone at the same time. 

Transformation – or change – is present at the level of our mundane life and at the level of our spiritual life too. Many spiritual doctrines teach about how one can become enlightened (a transformational process aiming at “seeing” or “knowing” things as they are) or knowing your true self (Atman), a saint (those of us “who are more perfectly transformed in the image of Christ” defines the “Lumen Gentium” No 50), how to stay closer to God or “to act according to the Light of the Creator” as Kabbalists explain, and so on. And none of these processes occur without experiencing a deep transformation within.

Whether you are moving into another country, experiencing a significant loss, falling in love, in the path of sanctity or spiritual realization, you are changing. Purists may raise a brow at this point since I´m comparing becoming a parent or traveling with the path of spiritual realization, but to me, they differ by visibility (how material or visible is the process of transformation) and calling (distinctions between what is profane and holy are, usually, the place where problems arise, and they are most of the times culturally biased – I´m not trying to say that divinity is not sacred, I´m pointing out toward a certain carefulness that is needed on this matter, especially in a globalized world). The “somebody”, the one who is aware of itself to the point of selfishness, when becomes a parent, is a “nobody”. The entire attention goes to the baby – it can´t be another way! – and all that happens around it.  The spiritual seeker, the “somebody” who seeks inner peace, wisdom or God, becomes a “nobody” in a profound meditation experience, in the Holy Communion or during the Praying time.

Our consciousness and reality are one and the same (check out my previous posts). By understanding all the aspects of our life as different dimensions of one single thing, by bringing up a core, center or unifying space within in which the “somebody” can surrender and become a “nobody”, we won´t feel lost or lacking the point of reference – a feeling that occurs very often when we experience change and transformation, especially in this “liquid modernity” as Bauman named it. On the contrary, we will embrace change, no matter how uncomfortable this change might be, because that´s the foundation of our human experience, that is what all of us (no matter our differences) experience in life. This understanding brings not only wisdom but also a greater compassion toward all living beings. And at the end of the day that counts because we are all having our own doses of fear, uncertainty, loss, gain, judgment, realization, and satisfaction, and we deserve some little peace in between.

Credits for the image @ajaychahal29

I Won´t Lose My Grasping – Note From Consciousness

Awareness of a cat

On staying sane in times of change. Part II.

(part I here)

If there is one thing in which different philosophies, worldviews, spiritual systems, and cosmologies coincide regarding reality is that change is the only certainty in this world. Impermanence – name it in eastern philosophies, change – in other places. However you understand this, it seems that change permeates all our experience in this world. The body, mood, and thoughts change daily, sometimes per minute and even seconds. We change jobs, partners, friends, house, country, and pets. Our body decays, we get old. The nature of reality is that of change.

This understanding is important so we may learn to internally zoom out of things that, at the end of the day, will change. Wink at equanimity here. The attachment to things that change is, ultimately, the source of our suffering in life. Letting go, again. This time it´s not only about our past experiences but also about the future. Of course, it´s never about our future plans or past experiences, but emotions, attachments or “desires out of control”, and judgements about them. Once you release these burdens, you can plan your future more effectively and realistically – we may acknowledge the fact that our plans do not come to a fruition because, many times, we expect either too much or too little about ourselves or about the circumstance. As per your past experiences, you will be able to learn from them and get wisdom out of them for yourself and others. Once you get insights or wisdom, being of service to others follows.

“Cease from practice based on intellectual understanding, pursuing words, and following after speech, and learn the backward step that turns your light inward to illuminate your self. Body and mind of themselves will drop away, and your original face will manifest.” Dogen

If the nature of reality is that of change, what about our own nature? How different are we from reality? We may accept that we don´t differ much from it. We are real, actually. And if so, if we are real, what is left of ourselves when things change? What do we lose or gain about ourselves in this changing game? The question about our deepest identity, the “self” that remains when things change, can be addressed by a more subtle approach. And just to point towards a direction, we can consider that our consciousness – meaning here how we process/understand information delivered by our perception and the response to that awareness – and reality are one and the same. In other words, reality is conscious and consciousness is real. (Physics has something to say about this. You can check out this article and read about how material is the reality, in case you think that it is only and strictly a matter).

The nature of both, reality and consciousness, is one and the same. Our consciousness changes along with our reality, and vice versa. If we think in the so-called spiritual practices, or practices that connect us with ourselves at the consciousness level as meditation does (we thus know what is going on), we realize that they are highly practical: ritualistic and down to earth (quietly enter to the room, sit down, adjust your body, feel comfortable, close your eyes, gently bring your attention at one single point, two fingers-width above the navel, and keep it there… how ethereal is that?). And there is no other way in which can be so since we engage with reality when we are in tune with it, so we go with it, we flow with it, and allow the process of change take place.

This process of change is not only very visible and positive while meditating regularly or maintaining a spiritual practice, but due to other circumstances too – although the experience of change is rougher, I would say.  And so you find yourself one day holding a baby, your baby, for the very first time in your life and one of the things that cross your mind is “how much I love this small body and how fragile it is!”. This temporary thought creates an important feeling within yourself and suddenly you understand, beyond words, that her/his fragility is your fragility too, that you are now responsible of that small body, and that this new understanding brings about transformation, something changes in you and you are not the same anymore. In a way, you are becoming more real.

To be continued…

Credits for the image @sakshi101889

Who Are You When Things Change?

On staying sane in times of change. Part I.

Although we live our lives with a considerable degree of certainty regarding of who we are and the roles we play in our family and society, there are moments in which our own self seems foreign to us. We either feel that we have kind of lost ourselves, forgotten about ourselves or that we simply don´t know where it came from – some part of ourselves that arose in a given circumstance. These moments are, many times, a side effect of transformative experiences such as a significant loss or a painful end, the starting of a new career path, falling in/out of love, or becoming a parent. They deserve our careful attention. 

As we experience such changes in life, we need to re-frame our identities since these circumstances seem to demand something that we haven´t discovered yet or haven’t developed from ourselves (an impressive nurturing capacity, an unexpected resilience, a dormant creativity). We transition from A to B. During this process many things change, sometimes quickly, sometimes gradually, but the first thing that we need to do is to let go of the conditioning of our past experiences in order to flourish again in a new form, a form more appropriate to the present circumstance. 

This letting go is never about the past experience itself – let´s say that you had a boss who made you feel incompetent too often and you changed your job. You don´t let go of the skills you developed at that particular job, nor the colleagues you met or the experience acquired, but the negative aftermaths of the circumstance in yourself. The emotions (frustration, anger, regrets etc.), thoughts and judgements about it (I loved it, I disliked it etc.) is the stuff that, after a while, you will need to let go. And after a while because when the letting go phase takes place, we need to exercise some patience with ourselves and take some time out to process the whole thing.  It´s all about time during this phase.

 “Only understand where you are now, and you rediscover your power to make changes.” I Ching

The letting go phase is needed as much as a certain sense of stability since feelings of uncertainty are very present in the times of change. During this transitional time directing our attention towards what is really going on without prejudices (past experiences) is the source of sanity and the knowledge that allows us to make better decisions, to exercise our personal power, to bring out our skills and manage ourselves in a good way. It´s the knowledge that gives us some foundation and options, that makes us free. 

In order to “see” what is in there for us, what reality brings just in front of our eyes, we need a certain inner quality that is known as “equanimity”. In this context equanimity is the capacity that we have to bear the vision without fooling ourselves, to see what forces are working in the here and now, what are our available resources with clear lenses, without judgement or bias. Although a natural quality of inner balance, there are some exercises such as meditation that enhances it and develop it further and wider according to several scientific studies. And it makes sense because, after all, moments of introspection are not only delightful, but also and mostly, revealing. 

Equanimity can also be understood as neutrality, but never as indifference. Remaining indifferent is a form of escapism, a form of denial of the reality. But here reality is what we get and search for; it is our source of empowerment and sanity in moments of change and transition, not something to get rid of or escape from. Equanimity refers, then, to a certain inner attitude that enables us to deal with whatever is going on without feeling out of place, or worse, out of ourselves. And it is the safest passage to blend with reality.

More on reality, spirituality and all that happens in between coming soon.