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.

Dances of Universal Peace

A crowd of people in a circle, meditative music, simple dance movements, and mantras from a wide variety of world faiths all meld together… Attending a Dance of Universal Peace is an unforgettable experience. In hundreds of dances across the globe, people around the world gather in spiritual centers, churches, schools, therapy groups, and even prisons to participate in this event. There is usually no audience; everyone, regardless of skill, is encouraged to join.

By blending sacred phrases, scripture, poetry, and the beauty of nature, participants are able to strengthen their connections to each other, the earth, and their own spirits. In other words, the dances bring them closer to universal peace, step by step.

Samuel L. Lewis, known by many as Murshid S.A.M. (the title being Arabic for “guide”), was an American Sufi who introduced the Dances of Universal Peace on June 24, 1968 in an attempt to unify people — to lower the arbitrary veils that separate us. This year, nearly 150 events were held to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Dances.

Each year, the scope of the movement grows to include new areas and people. How have the dances evolved in recent years? How has the current political climate affected this movement? Let’s dive into the issue:

Finding Peace Amidst Geopolitical War Games

Lewis’s home country has changed a lot since his death in ‘71. Trump’s administration, increased racial tensions, the Me Too movement — the face of the politics in the U.S. has changed drastically in the past several years. Due to a wide variety of factors, from food and water scarcity to America’s national security policy, the country has been politically fractured.

In spite of these divisions, people have sought ways to call for unity and harmony. Dances permit communities to demonstrate their tolerance and acceptance of diversity in the face of an intolerant administration. In a manner, these events are a form of passive protest. Rather than responding to discrimination with violent action, participating in these dances signals that peace is always an option.

Of course, political unrest isn’t unique to the U.S. In recent years, the Dances of Universal Peace movement has gained traction around the globe. In areas like Russia, Turkey, and many Latin American countries, political unrest has spurred people to find an outlet. Dances of Universal Peace work as a valuable collective healing practice in these troubled times. The Dances allow people to find common ground and connect with each other on a deep level, regardless of race, religion, or nationality.

When Murshid began guiding students in dance, he started with only a few students. As the movement he started has expanded, it has grown to encompass thousands. The global expansion of this movement is a product of the fact that many people have become discontent with the arbitrary lines between nations. Globalization in the business world and technology have also facilitated this mindset, as they have opened new lines of communication and exposed us to new cultures.

How These Dances Create Peace and Love

Recent years have shed light on why these events have worked so effectively. In our individual journeys, we must commit to self-love, and attending a Dance of Universal Peace is a great step in that direction. There are many reasons why they improve our mental, emotional, and physical well-being.

Dancing and music are powerful tools for improving our holistic health. As Murshid S.A.M. once said, “(Dance) takes us beyond ourselves, bringing an initial taste of the state of non-being, which is really a balm for the soul.”   However, as recent research has proven, it can also heal the mind and body.

The physiological changes that occur within us when we engage in these activities can improve our mood and overall well-being. Listening to music and dancing can increase the amount of dopamine in our brains, a neurotransmitter responsible for making us feel happy and rewarded.

Dance and music also affect our bodies in many therapeutic ways. In fact, it may even be helpful for treating disease. According to an article on Medical News Today, “Dance and music therapy is being investigated for its potential use in the treatment of diseases such as Parkinson’s and autism.

Finally, these events allow us to create and strengthen social bonds. In recent years, specialists have found that socializing improves our holistic health, even reducing our likelihood of developing dementia. There’s no question that the life-long bonds that these dances create have led to healthier, more social lifestyles.

Given these insights, it’s no wonder that Samuel Lewis’s movement has grown into the worldwide phenomenon it is today. As this movement continues to expand, it will doubtlessly open dialogues, forge new social connections, and improve our well-being. In addition to helping us find inner-peace, it will continue to inch society closer to worldwide peace.

Are you interested in attending a Dance? Let us know in the comments below.


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

العطاء

يقول الله عز وجل: “لَن تَنَالُوا الْبِرَّ حَتَّىٰ تُنفِقُوا مِمَّا تُحِبُّونَ”.
المعطي؛ اسم من أسماء الله الحسنى، ويروى أنّ رسول الله (ص) ما سأله أحد شيئًا إلّا وأعطاه.

للعطاء أنواع عدّة، ففي بعض الأحيان يكون المُعطَى علمًا أو مالًا أو جاهًا أو دمًا أو جهدًا أو وقتًا.  فالسلوك الإنساني والتعاطف مع الآخر وإعطائه الوقت لسماع شكواه ومساعدته هو عطاء سامٍ، ولو لم يتضمن منفعة مادية. فالابتسامة عطاء للآخرين وقد تتفوق في بعض الأحيان على العطاء المادي.

شاركْتُ في تحدي سكون وسلامالمتمثل بالتخلي كل يوم عن ثلاثة أشياء من خزانة ملابسنا لمدة اسبوع. في البداية كان سهلًا عليّ انتقاء الأشياء لأننا كنّا ننتقل من فصل إلى فصل. وبعد مرور حوالي الثلاثة أيام، أصبحت الخيارات ضئيلة وأصبح الموضوع أصعب. أخذ مني الانتقاء وقتًا أكثر ولكني أكملت التحدي. أحببت ذلك كثيرا وأتمنى أن ينتشر العطاء والسلام في مجتمعاتنا. 

تعلمت من هذا التحدي أهمية العطاء وهو ليس التبرع بمبلغ من المال أو إعطاء ما لا نحتاجه فقط، بل هو اقتناء ما نحتاجه والتبرع بما يزيد عن حاجتنا. كما أنّ له منفعة على الصعيد النفسي، فالعطاء يبعث المشاعر الإيجابية ويقلل من النزعات السلبية. أثبتت بعض الدراسات أنّ العطاء يعزز فرزهرمون “الإندورفينمما يؤدي إلى ارتفاع المزاج. فليس أفضل من أن تعطيَ شيئًا للآخر ومن دون انتظار أيّ مقابل.

إنّ العطاء يساعد على التمييز بين الأنانية ومحبة النفس. فالأنانية تتمثل بالإجحاف في العطاء بينما محبة النفس تتجلى بالرغبة في تطويرها والسعي إلى الكمال والعيش بوعي. والتطور وبلوغ الكمال يتعزز بالعطاء. فالذي يحب نفسه يعطي الآخرين وينشر المحبة في محيطه. لذا علينا تعزيز المبادرات التي تدعو إلى العطاء وتشجيعه وذكره خلال عملنا وخلال جلسات التأمل لنصل إلى عالم يملؤه التسامح والحب والخير والتعاون

يقول أبراهام لنكون: كلما تقدّم عمرك ستكتشف أنّ لديك يدان، واحدة لمساعدة نفسك، والأخرى لمساعدة الآخرينفلنمدد أيدينا للخير. وأختم بالقول أنّ تجربتي في هذه الحياة علمتني أن العطاء هو أجمل شيءٍ في الوجود.

التأمل والبيئة

للتأمل أنواع، ومن أحد أنواع التأمل هو المشي في الطبيعة او ما يعرف بتأمل المشي“. والبعض يفضل المشي على الجلوس في الحديقة أو على الشاطئ. فسكون الطبيعة وجمالها يساعد الفرد في إيجاد الانسجام والتوازن.

ولا أهدف من هذا المقال تعزيزفكرة أن مكان التأمل هو الطبيعة، بل من الممكن أيضًا ممارسة التأمل في المكتب أو في المنزل. لكن ومن منظوري الشخصي، إن أحد أفضل الأماكن للتأمل هو الطبيعة.

البيئة لديها قوة تحويلية، فهي توفر الصفاء وتساعدنا في العثور على أنفسنا مرة أخرى. فالتأمل في مكونات البيئة من نبات وحيوانات يؤدي الى احترام وتقدير هذه المخلوقات، وهذا الاحترام يؤدي الى الحفاظ على البيئة.

مكافحة التلوث وحماية البيئة

في عالمنا الحالي نحتاج للتأمل للحفاظ على البيئة. ففي ظل الثورة الصناعية والتكنولوجيا واستنزاف الموارد الطبيعية، بات من الطبيعي خلق مفهوم جديد بعيدًا عن تسليع الموارد. حيث أنّ جعل الموارد الطبيعية عنصرًا اقتصاديًا قابلًا للبيع والشراء عزز الأنانية وأدّى إلى تفضيل المصلحة الشخصية على حماية البيئة.  كما دفع الكثير للتعدي على الموارد البيئية واستنزافها لأجل تحصيل المال. فنرى اصطياد الأسماك تحول من الشباك الى سفن ضخمة تجرف كل ما تمر فوقه. ولا يسعنا المجال لذكر التعديات البيئية.

وهنا يأتي دور التأمل والذي يزفّه المرء بالإحساس بهذه الموارد وتعظيمها.

تغير المناخ والتأمل

تغير المناخ من المشاكل التي تواجه العالم أجمع وتجر عليه الويلات. ولكي يصبح تغير المناخ أولوية عالمية، يجب خلق وتوضيح نقاط الاتصال بين حياة الناس اليومية وظاهرة الاحتباس الحراري.

ومن أحد العوامل التي أدت الى تفاقم هذه الأزمة والعديد من المشاكل البيئة هو أن الكثيرين منا لا يدركون ارتباطنا كبشر بالبيئة وأننا جزء منها ولسنا أوصياءً عليها. كثيرون لا يدركون فائدة إقامة علاقة أفضل مع الطبيعة. ويأتي هنا دور التأمل، الذي يمكن أن يؤدي الى الوعي المستنير الذي يمكّن فهمًا أفضل للمناطق الطبيعية المحيطة بنا.

يمكن لليقظة أن تؤدي إلى تغيير في طريقة تفكيرنا وطريقة معالجتنا للأزمات الاجتماعية والبيئية التي تواجهنا. لذا فإن تضافر الجهود عليه أن يساعدنا في بناء مجتمع أكثر استدامة.

نستنج من أعلاه أن التأمل يساعد في تنمية التعاطف وتعزيز قيمنا الأخلاقية الجوهرية مما ينعكس بدوره على رفع الظلم وإدراك العدالة الاجتماعية وتغليب المصلحة العامة. وعلى الإنسان أن يعي نعمة وجود الطبيعة الجميلة حوله فيحافظ عليه. فالوعي بالأخطار الناجمة عن التصرفات الغير واعية يؤثر سلبا على حياة جميع أنواع المخلوقات. فالتفكر ومعرفة أهمية الحفاظ على توازن الطبيعة يؤدي إلى تنمية مستدامة على الصعيد البيئي والاقتصادي والاجتماعي.

Beyond Happiness, Above Rainbow

I remember way back while in high school, I would get sick just from worrying. I had a harsh inner critic that challenged most of the things I did and planned to do. It was very easy for me to appreciate and admire others but seldom did I find anything I did good enough. Even when people praised me for something I did, it didn’t make me feel any better or less depressed. This negativity that plagued me affected every aspect of my life and eventually I would go to sleep hoping to wake up in the skin of someone I admired. Often I would imagine myself chasing happiness like it is a rainbow, hoping to catch it―wear it round my neck like a shawl against self-loathing―then live happily ever after.

Most people can attest to have experienced depression, stress or anxiety at some point in life. It is the silent ail of humanity no one bothers to talk about because unlike cancer, it is not visual―maybe not as deadly―but this is a misconception. Daily we search for happiness. It is our human nature to do so, but too often, we get lost on our journey to finding it, habitually due to expectations from family, friends, work and relationships.  In an effort to please everyone we lose our focus and in the process; lose ourselves. To which I would say “There is no greater tragedy!”

In the words of Steve Jobs: “If you want to make everyone happy, don’t be a leader, sell ice cream!”

In our quest for social validation, we shift our attention to material possessions. We fill our wardrobes with designer clothes and shoes; get a fleet of cars, amass academic diplomas, get married, have kids, tick off every item in society’s happiness checklist. Still, we lack inner peace, that little ingredient that makes life valuable.

Because we are here to live our best lives, we owe it to ourselves to live consciously and deliberately and most importantly, wean ourselves from the delusion that happiness is a destination because it is not. Happiness is an infinite journey with beautiful surprises, it is you when you free yourself from worry and fear; it is you when you realize that your happiness depends solely on you. That is when you do not need to chase the rainbow anymore; – it is always there!

Photo by Leo Wieling on Unsplash

How can meditation benefit your 5 senses?

The 5 senses rule our lives, but we fail to understand that

When was the last time you enjoyed a meal alone without an electrical gadget by your side? When was the last time you went to sleep without your cellphone? When was the last time you listened to your 5 senses?

For me personally, it’s been a long while now. I can’t nearly imagine eating or sleeping without scrolling through my social media or watching Netflix. It’s something about us Millennials, we are very distracted. Our journey to inner peace has lost its way in the conundrum of a fast life. Millennials are most certainly very productive but have somehow lost the ability to be stable. We can’t be blamed entirely for being addicted to technology either, the competition is tough today. It has become more important than ever to be updated about what’s happening around us, to be able to plan our next smart move.

Meditation can be a savior

A simple example would be, working late at work when your eyes are starting to hurt. It is important for you to understand why your sight is falling back at a time. Chances are, things go wayward if you ignore its warning repeatedly.

However, what we fail to understand is, we are creating bigger problems for ourselves by limiting our senses. Not being able to connect with yourself is a real problem. Meditation is known to help soothe your senses. This gives you the scope to calm yourself and allows you the time to connect with the true self. This is when your body comes in alignment with your mind or senses. This might seem taxing initially but shows greatly on your productivity later. Being mindful should be a lifestyle habit and not something limited to meditations and yoga sessions. It necessarily means being aware of your body in the present. Meditation helps in arousing all our senses and keeping us alert at all times.

We all know our 5 senses that run our lives. But how often do we pay attention to what these senses are trying to communicate? Be that frequent pimple on your face or the itch you get at the end of the day. We all let them shy away with the modern distractions of the day, to take care of themselves. By paying attention to the senses during meditation, we are allowing the body to reconnect well with the mind.

This is how meditation can help your 5 senses:

The sense of Taste

We have such diverse cuisines available so easily today, we take this sense for granted the most frequently. This habit not only makes us unhealthy but also leads to weight gain or weight loss. The right nutrients hit our blood vessels only when we are mindful of what we are feeding them with. Otherwise, our bodies don’t realize if we have already supplied them with the amount or not.

Meditating will indirectly result in being mindful of that. You will have a better control of what and how much you are feeding your body. At times, our body signals at being hungry when it is just in need of water. Misreading your body in times like these will lead to indigestion and obesity.

Having a cup of Jasmine/Green/Pepper Mint tea before meditating can calm your senses and leave a good aftertaste.

The sense of Touch

We are usually always touching something or the else without realizing much of it. We become aware of it mostly when it hurts or feels good in sensation. Meditation can help you be aware of every small thing that you are touching regularly. It could be the warm sensation of an early morning sun or the feeling of rainwater on our bodies. Being aware of such small things or sensations in our daily lives doesn’t just make our lives more alert but also more satisfying.

Meditating doesn’t come naturally to everyone. You can start with being at a comfortable location and relaxing. Make use of soft drapes, cushions, and rugs where you can be comfortable and cozy.

The sense of Hearing

The major motive of meditating is being mindful of your being and surrounding. A great way, to begin with, would be to meditate to a particular sound, be it a chanting of Om or to the sound of raindrops. This will alert your sense of hearing or sound and let all the other senses relax for a while. Let that particular sound absorb you.

The sense of Sight

This is something that has personally helped me a lot in improving my eyesight. Focusing on the flame of a candlelight in a dark room is a great way of enhancing your sense of sight. You can take a note of all the tiny flickers or changes in colors while focusing on not blinking or distracting yourself from it. Your eyes might hurt after a while, then close your eyes and imagine the flame flickering in your mind. You can open your eyes again when the image fades from your mind without distracting yourself.

The sense of Smell

While meditating you sit with your eyes closed, so as not to be distracted. Focus your sense of smell to the aroma of a flower or an incense stick. Anything that has a mild and soothing aroma to it can be of help. But make sure it is not too loud or too over-powering. Fragrances like that of jasmine and sandalwood are known to work as antidepressants and mood stimulants.

Meditating can help you arouse your sense of smell and help you capture the tiniest of smells around you. The smell of soil when the first raindrops hit them, the smell of freshly baked cookies, the aroma of freshness from freshly squeezed citrus, to name a few. Being able to relish these natural and free joys around you will uplift your senses for a long time.

While meditating try and focus at smelling the aromas in the room. This will allow you to absorb your surrounding smells while all your other senses relax for a while.

Being mindful isn’t just a crucial part to survive in today’s world, but also an art of being healthy in the long run. Relaxing or letting go of your crucial senses alternatively, gives them the chance to relax.

Picking up yoga, meditation or some form of workout with a loved one gives us the necessary break from the monotony. Meditation is how you relax your senses and rejuvenate them for a better performance. Allowing your body to fully live all the  5  senses is the only way to connect to your inner self.

Photo credits: Pixabay

What is really going on with addiction?

The first thing that comes to my mind when seeing the word addiction, is drugs. On a second glance, I associate it with alcohol, cigarettes, sex or sugar. What is really addiction all about?

According to the Webster’s Dictionary, addiction is the “compulsive NEED for and USE of a habit-forming substance (heroin, nicotine, or alcohol) characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal; a persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful.”

Yet, most addicted people use no drugs at all. Moreover, addiction cannot be understood if we restrict our vision of it to substances, be they legal or illegal.

Beyond drugs

In fact, addiction is manifested in any behaviour that a person craves, finds temporary relief or pleasure in, but suffers negative consequences as a result of. Yet, the person has difficulty giving up, accompanied by effects such as craving, relief, pleasure, suffering, impaired control, violence and more.

Therefore, the definition of addiction goes beyond drugs or alcohol, it stretches across any human behavior, from sex to eating, shopping, gambling, extreme sports, TV and compulsive internet use – the list is endless.

Addiction is neither a choice nor a disease, but originates in a human attempt to solve a problem: the problem of emotional pain, overwhelming stress, lost connection, loss of control, deep discomfort with the self.

Treating addiction or pain?

Testimonies show, without failure,  what addiction compensates for: “It helped me escape emotional pain… helped me deal with stress… gave me peace of mind… a sense of connection with others… a sense of control… a sense of power”.

Hence, addition is one aspect of the urge to stop the pain. To treat the addiction, which is a symptom, without treating the pain underneath means to deal with effects rather than its causes, prolonging cycles of suffering, ruining lives.

Often childhood trauma is associated with addiction.  Not necessarily horrific events, but any event that imposes more pain on the child than his or her sensitive being can process. Any failure to respond to the need to be seen, held, heard, made to feel secure. And each of us has an inner child.

“Trauma has become so commonplace, that most people don’t even recognize its presence.” Peter Levine

Developing connection: an example from Portugal

Connection, belonging, safety can be learned and accepted as opposite to the addiction. Hence, developing healthy interpersonal connections as a part of recovery and healing is not easy, but it generates the desired sustainable life changes compared to approaches based solely on isolation and medication.

A story of success is Portugal and how the country chose to handle the situation with drugs differently,  in a way that can help people, one at a time. For 40 years the authoritarian regime of António Salazar imposed measures to keep the population docile. In the 70’s Portugal opened to new experiences, including marijuana and heroin, however in 2001 it became the first country to decriminalise the possession and consumption of all illicit substances.

It led to a cultural shift, where health services, psychiatrists, employers, housing services started to work together to serve the communities, saving one individual at a time. The country’s policy rests on three pillars: 

(1) There’s no such thing as a soft or hard drug, only healthy and unhealthy relationships with drugs;

(2) Individual’s unhealthy relationship with drugs often conceals a lack of  relationships and support of loved ones, with the world around them, and with themselves;

(3) The eradication of all drugs is an impossible goal.

There is no one-size-fits-all or universal solution, just the daily search for balance, inner peace, diversity,  connection and meaning.

Sources:

https://drgabormate.com/opioids-universal-experience-addiction/

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2017/dec/05/portugals-radical-drugs-policy-is-working-why-hasnt-the-world-copied-it

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/love-and-sex-in-the-digital-age/201509/the-opposite-addiction-is-connection

 

Photo credits: Emily Lau @unsplash

NO To Pessimism

In my language Kirundi, we say “Ntawutanga ico adafise” which means, you cannot give what you don’t have. This is similar to how Peace Revolution project envisions peacebuilding  with its PIPO  (Peace In – Peace Out) concept, putting emphasis on cultivating inner peace first before spreading peace to the outer world.

I have been receiving invitations to participate in various peace conferences by different organizations involved in peace building, but one important question that arises is: what are those conferences aiming at? According to my understanding, such conferences are meant for teaching techniques and strategies on how to become a peace activist in one’s community and surrounding. There is nothing bad in that, but if participants are not taught techniques and strategies on how to find peace from within, we can’t expect any sustainable peace. However, if we have inner peace, we spread it to our surroundings from one individual to another. The more this process expands, the more we move towards a sustainable world peace. Therefore, PIPO concept becomes one of the most effective strategies in communities’ peace building.

Moreover, as peace comes from within, so does pessimism and negativity. Imagine, when the mind accumulates a junk of negativity and pessimism, the entire world becomes negative and the subject becomes pessimist. This can happen to anybody in certain difficult moments of their life. Yet, we deserve a healthy, peaceful and happy life which we can only get from a positive mindset. On this note, I would like to share some interesting tips from Henrik Edberg’s Positivity Blog that would help us overcome pessimism and negativity inviting more peace and calm in our life:

1) Start replacing negativity in your surroundings and life: What you let into your mind during your regular day will have a big effect on how you think and feel. So, start questioning what you let come into your mind.

2) Stop making mountains out of a molehill: The easiest way to ground yourself in a situation where you start to sense that you may be making a mountain out of a molehill is to zoom out a bit on your life by using a question like: will this matter in 5 years? Or even in 5 weeks?

3) Be grateful for a few of the things you may often take for granted: When your lens (that you view your daily life through) is tinted in a negative way, it is easy to miss the things you can actually be grateful for. Take a minute as you get out of bed in the morning or get into it in the evening and put your attention on a few such things of which you can be thankful for: three steady meals a day; a roof over my head; my caring family, friends, etc. You’ll find many of them that you hadn’t thought before.

4) Come back to this moment (and stay here): When you’re on a train of negative thoughts, you’re often thinking about something that you could or should have done or said. Or you’re thinking about something that could happen. Or maybe a mix of the two of them as a past experience or two build a monster in your mind about what the future may bring. To get out of any of those places, snap back into this moment – to what is right here, right now.

5) Get a positive start to your day: The first few things you do in the morning often set the tone for your entire day. If you get off to a negative or pessimistic start, it can be quite hard to shake those feelings or perspective. But if you get your morning off to a positive start, then it becomes a lot easier to stay with that emotion and the optimism all the way to the evening and bedtime.

Conclusion

Just like peace and happiness, also pessimism and negativity come from within, from the mind. The condition of the mind is actually what determines the view of the world. Hence, mind needs to be consistently taken care of. And this can be done through various strategies and techniques, among which, we highlighted some of the important ones in this article.

Emotional Intelligence: a secret to happiness

One of the precious gifts a human being can have is the ability to have a strong willpower to love, care and accept situations as they come without questioning why they seem the way they are. It is something agreeable, and no doubt, our natural well-being can succumb to emotional ups and downs, showing different reactions and responding to both good and bad situations. Emotional intelligence is one such precious ways of averting conflict and living a happy and humble lifestyle that can potentially motivate others around us.

If we take a glance and stay calm enough, we realise that there is only one way of overcoming the challenges that we face – and that is emotional intelligence. Although many people have diverse theories and conspiracies about what emotional intelligence entails, in general, it is someone’s ability to evaluate, identify and control your emotions so that you better understand the emotions of others around you and relate with them in a peaceful and harmonious manner. It is this skill that is somewhat more natural and instilled within humanity and usually goes untapped in all the efforts to enjoy individual peace and mutual coexistence.

How can we have emotional intelligence and the ability to sustain it?

Self-Awareness: There is a general saying that you will not know where you are going if you are unable to know where you are. That is basically the same with emotional intelligence. The first area of concern is self-discovery and self-awareness. Knowing our strengths and weaknesses is very vital to deal with such situations when our soft spots are tempered or triggered. This also includes our ability to know things or acts that can easily expose us to stress, discomfort and unhappiness. Dealing with your stress appropriately instead of letting it control you will have you living a much easier, happier life.

Conscious Communication Skills: It is often said, “wars of this world were often caused by words left unspoken or spoken”, which brings to the issue of proper communication particularly with others. Our ability to manage and control our speech helps in controlling our inner state of emotions. No matter how we have wronged someone or have been wronged, happy or unhappy; the way we communicate ourselves is very significant in shaping our emotions, as well as how others respond to us. The five acts of self-discipline also cement the rationale behind peaceful speech towards the attainment of individual peace and that of our surrounding. Our emotional fragmentation can sometimes accumulate through guilt, anger and inferiority complex exacerbated by what we say about ourselves and others. The question is: how do we overcome this and generate emotional intelligence?

The answer: being with ourselves.

So often, we become emotional with what is happening within ourselves, families, workplace, and our countries, as well as in global trends and dynamics. We are so emotionally eager to change the status quo, but so often we do not know how. The answer is YOU. When you create positive energy, habits and self-restrictions to be yourself, develop self-reflective moments alone (INNER PEACE MOMENTS), you are able to realise that at times we want to fight wars that are not ours instead of fighting the inner conflicted self in dealing with life situations; that is the essence of EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE.