Life-changing Scholarship Opportunities in Thailand

Life Changing Scholarship Opportunities Thailand Meditation

Just like those unexpected and wonderful things that happen in life, my cousin suggested me I take a look at an article. It was entitled “The Most exotic Scholarships of the World.” She emphasized that I was probably the only person she knew who would be interested in those kind of weird things. By weird, she meant what I actually referred to as a surprising scenario: a life-changing scholarship opportunity offered by World Peace Initiative Foundation to participate in a Meditation Retreat in Thailand! I could not believe how amazing and simultaneously exotic it sounded!

The Scholarship Opportunity, Thailand Meditation

This “casual and azarous” fact led me to a life-changing experience several months later, in January 2016. After I started the online Self-Development Program, I experienced an astonishing personal transformation. Although I had always been interested in exploring and developing tools for personal growth, meditation came to me as a very practical way to dive into my depth and redefine the way I want to be in the world.

I still remember how happy and smiling I was when I got the news that I had been selected to participate in it. My family could not believe it at all. “Are you really going to Thailand? That far? For a Meditation Retreat?!”

This training-retreat allowed me to awaken and develop many aspects of myself that had always been there. I had the precious opportunity to dive into myself, my emotions, and my essence. To enjoy some silence enabling me to listen to whatever my body, my mind and my soul were trying to tell me.

Good News: Another Scholarship opportunity in Thailand!

The application call for the new edition of this training is now open until August 15th. Further,  it will take place in December 2018 in Thailand! This is the only international youth training of its kind as it offers group dynamics for networking as well as time for personal well-being and calmness. A good combination of meditation, mindfulness & self-development which will lead to professional success in any career path by challenging yourself to be a better version of what you are looking for.

Read more of the whole process of my personal transformation during and after attending the Thailand training in my article “14 ways my self-transformation happened through meditation”.

Here are the 4 Ds why the Thailand Meditation Fellowship is a life-changing opportunity:

Discover you true self

How much of our own selves still remain unknown for ourselves? How much hidden potential do we have? What about embracing our weaknesses and transforming them into virtues?

Personally, since I started meditating, I feel much more confident and I trust myself better. I doubt much less because I know what I have to do, deeply inside myself.

Detox and empower your mind

We all know how important is to keep our physical body clean. But have you ever wondered how important it is to purify our mind as well? The same way we clean up our body, our mind needs to detox. What causes a clouded mind? Our daily agitated routine, stressful situations, negative sensations, recurrent thoughts, concerns with no solution. If we would just take some time for ourselves. Did you know that when we meditate, we recharge the mind and body so that we have more energy to do good things for ourselves and for others?

On a personal level, that cumulative of past negative experiences. Stories of catastrophic events or drama situations, and that sometime determine the way I see reality, was cleaned up. So whenever I face a new obstacle, no matter how difficult it is, it will not get stuck to the old negativity. On the contrary, I am able to see it as a new challenge, to try to solve it and then let it go.

Develop mindfulness lifestyle

How do we cultivate healthy habits? What is a good habit? Further, how do we change those habits that we think do not lead us to reach our goals in life? First, we need to be aware of them recognizing our actions and its consequences in our daily life. Does it sound easy?

Personally, I am now much more able to let go situations, relationships or behaviours that do not nourish me. I do not get stuck so easily to difficult moments, on the contrary, I let it go. So it is about the new positive attitude I take to address those negative things what really matters in life.

Design a peaceful environment

It is easier to be at peace when on vacations in a beautiful beach or in the exotic mountains with good food and friends, right? But how to bring this feelings back home? We should learn how to create a peaceful environment that allows us to be at peace as well.

Personally, I now understand that I am constantly creating my own reality. I am a protagonist of my world. I have the power to change what I do not like. Though some actions seem tiny they always have a positive effect.

In the end, it all comes to the same reflection: “As within so without”. Nothing in our external reality can change without first making changes on the inside. And this is the secret ingredient of this program: Peace In, Peace Out. Peace starts from within. If I am not at peace, how can I spread peace out? By changing the quality of your thoughts, you change the quality of your whole life and of those around you. This change includes your family, community and the entire world!

Prepared for this life-changing opportunity?

Apply here  Now!

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 to Overcome a Doubtful Mind?

We all have doubted of something at least once in a life. Many times we fail to establish certainty about facts, situations, theories, beliefs and other aspects. In such a state of mind, it is normal that we fail to make a decision and we are afraid to go further until the mind is cleared and we are assured of how to act.

Doubting is natural
Doubt is a natural instinct in humans, which occur as a protective predisposition of our mind. It is therefore normal to doubt. We are talking about a doubtful mind, an excessive inclination to always doubt even when we ought not to. It may not be a hindrance to one’s life, not yet reached this level where everything is doubtful in our lives. Because having reached that level, one gets inner reflex preventing a move forward, an act of creativity, progress or any move to advance simply because one has less or no faith in its successful accomplishment.

This is not to refute though that most creative ideas come out of a doubt; a move to challenge the long established status quo which eventually leads to discovery of the truth, where new theory and belief can be formulated. Yet, here we are concerned by the mind that, for anything at all, we have to doubt till we lose trust in our own acts, till we lose confidence in ourselves to the point of lowering our own self-esteem. This is when we undermine our capabilities and prefer to be passive due to the fear of the unknown outcome of what we do, say and act.

 Bane to self-development

Hence, this doubtful mind can impede our self-development when we lose credibility in our own acts, when it leads us to denigrate the power to create what lies in our minds, when we fail to bring it to the light and discover the truth.

In the past, before I got to know the tricks helpful to overcome a doubtful mind, I have been a victim of the lack of faith in my acts, a lack of urge to make one more step forward due to the fear of the unknown. I would prefer to remain silent when I did not know where my words could reach, how they would be interpreted, whether they were right ones or not. I would refrain from doing something, because I had not done it before and had not seen good results, and this had nearly led me into a coward guy till I learnt to dare and act, and let whatever happens to happen.

It is at this stage that I understood that a doubtful mind was unhealthy state of mind. It could erode my own self-confidence, that kind of a doubt that leads to inaction for fear of uncertain outcome. This is what many could agree that it has been hindering the possibility of making progress. Long after I came of this, I saw that there is one main factor that led me there: ignorance.

Ask for a reason

When we have less knowledge on something, when we don’t understand or have a clue on some things, we tag them untrue, impossible, unrealizable, hence not worthy it all.

There is a beautiful quote from a philosopher I enjoy reading and that helps me understand this: “If you doubt first, doubt again”. That simply told me that there should be a reason why we doubt, ask yourself why you have such a doubt.

This assertion means, in the process of acting we have to analyse, vet and ensure that we are right, and this can lead to rational thinking and development.

However, when doubt becomes a part of our inner self, when it becomes a part of us as a habit, it will create a conflict within our mind, develop a close- mindedness which may lead to distress as one fails to act. Muhammad Ali said: “Give up what appears to be doubtful for what is certain. Truth brings peace of mind and the deception of doubt.”

Towards an innocent mind

Doubtful mind destroys us when it has become a habit which is hard to reverse. A way to prevent it is adopting practices that clear and clean the mind; something that can help us grow trust, boost self-confidence and raise self-esteem.

Spending a good amount of time calming the mind and emptying it from distracting thoughts and ideas, developing an innocent mind, we start seeing life differently. Meditation is like rebooting the system to go back to the initial settings of my life. A kind of resetting that truly works.

This cleaning and clearing of the mind means focusing on one thing at a time to increase concentration. In a long run, we feel relaxed and happy. Comprehending complex stuff becomes easy, handling tough deals become burdensome, and when the mind is empty, we can refill it with positive thoughts. We earn positive energy, and the world looks different from within and outside. Meditation did it for me. Triggered to try it? You may visit us here.

 

Overcoming Frustration With A Happy Body And Mind

Body and mind are two main components of every human being. It’s actually amazing how our body interacts with our mind. Ever since I started my journey with Peace Revolution practising meditation and mindfulness on daily basis, I have come to learn how mind and body mutually influence each other. In this article, I would like to share some of my personal experiences about body and mind interaction with a special emphasis on how to go about frustration and bad moments.

Softening the mind

In psychology, the word frustration is defined as  “a common emotional response to opposition, related to anger, annoyance and disappointment. Frustration arises from the perceived resistance to the fulfilment of an individual’s will or goal”[1].

It’s obvious that as human beings, we have to face frustration from time to time; yet, the way we react to it differs from one individual to another. When I get frustrated, I soften my mind in three simple steps, which I have learnt from my favorite blogger Henrik Edberg:

Step 1: Be here now

Frustration often comes with the state of mind getting somewhere in the future. This is somewhere you wish to be or you are reliving a stumble or failure from your past.  Snap out of those headspaces and calm down by focusing your mind and attention on what is now, right here at this moment. During day I find 1-2 minutes when I focus my attention 100% on my breathing or what is around me at this very moment with all my senses.

Step 2: Appreciate what you have

After I’ve pulled my attention back to where it can be most helpful, I focus on what is still positive in my life.  The quickest and easiest way to do so is to focus on appreciating what I have and becoming grateful for it.

Step 3: Focus on what you can do right now

With attention in the present moment, it’s now time to get constructive attitudes about what frustrates me. This can be done by asking oneself a simple question:  what is one small step I can take right now to improve this situation?  It may be seeing what you can learn from what frustrates you and trying another path towards your goal.  Or it could be trying one more time and keep going (because not all things in life will come to you the first, second or third time you try).

Freed from frustration

“Sometimes a bad day will just be a bad day; this is because no matter what habits you adopt, life will never be perfect, positive or awesome all the time. And that’s OK. That’s life. But the interesting thing is this: if you accept that life is like this sometimes – and let go of the dream of perfection – then you’ll create less suffering for yourself. And life will become lighter, simpler and happier……” Henrik Edberg.

From my personal experience, when you manage to get rid of frustration, you feel as if a heavy burden is being pulled out of your shoulders. With such a feeling, your mind and body create a kind of enthusiastic harmony which leads to happiness, joy and above all you are driven by a very strong positive energy.

The opposite applies as well; frustration and negativity affect the mind, and when the mind accumulates negativity, the body becomes weak and sometimes driven by negative energy which most of the time leads to aggressive reactions and bad actions.

Conclusion

Mind and body are good companions; they entertain a very close relationship with the mind being the central source of positive or negative energy. The mind, thus, needs to get a good care through a constant mindfulness practice or any other stress management technique.

[1]  Botton, Alain (April 2011). The Consolations of Philosophy, Vintage Books: New York, P. 80.

Connecting to Inner Peace Through Victoria Falls

Water-spraying happiness at Victoria Falls Africa

As a global traveller, when I reach a destination that ignites my happiness, a rush of inner peace sweeps over me.

Such a place is the top of Victoria Falls on the Zambia-Zimbabwe border in Africa.  In the dry season, you can literally stand on the edge and watch water from the Zambezi River fall over a 355-foot (108 meter) drop.  Locals call this spectacular location, Mosi-oa-Tunya, the smoke that thunders.

The sound you hear does seem to be thunder.  Roaring, splashing, flying thunder.  From your spot of seasonally uncovered dry land you can look down  over the edge of the falls into the plunging pools of water below.  When you descend over the edge, the roar and rush of the water chases you in its continuous descent.  If the soaking does not wake you up, the power of the drop should.

But more than the immediate sound of the water is the overwhelming sense of peace you feel when you stand on the edge of a plunging waterfall, and experience excitement, not fear.  If you automatically, spontaneously embrace where you are, without distraction and excuse, you may suddenly realize the feeling you experience is a connection to your own soul.

At a spot like Victoria Falls when you find yourself closing your eyes to listen to the water, instead of activating your selfie-stick, your own state of well-being is in charge of your actions.  You may not even notice when this happens.  It could be when you are walking away from the scene and exclaim “I forgot to take pictures,” (and then quickly run back for more).

Travel and surprise experiences provide you with the opportunity to grasp a singular time when you are drawn forward to appreciate contentment.  You do not have to travel to Africa to capture this moment in your happiness.  You can find this connection simply by understanding that you are entitled to have it.  As you go through your own life and feel content to be helping a friend, or blessed to laugh with a child, when you, as the saying goes, ‘stop to smell the roses,’ you bring yourself back to you, every time.

Happiness is a state most people have to consciously bring forward.  Our society does not look kindly to the perpetually happy.  If you were to go around proclaiming your constant contentment to all who would listen, people may soon become suspicious of you. They will want to know if you are up to something.  But you can be happy if you so choose, if you remember that it is expected for your healthy life.

To be happy is to know the sound of inner peace.  Roaring louder than the cascading waters at Victoria Falls.  Once you connect, you can achieve your internal harmony.  Here are some suggestions to enhance your life wisdom for being happy:

1. Recognize your right to be happy.  Feel fabulous without feeling guilty. Our society focuses on the suffering and difficulties of life.  You will attract words of sympathy and support for any particular difficult personal issue that you may wish to discuss, but you may not receive any applause for being continuously happy.  You have to embrace the feeling for yourself.  Happiness is a choice you can make for yourself by deciding how you want to live.

2. Set a cheerful outcome for your everyday life.  As you go about your day to day, reset your mood.  Maybe the traffic appears to move slower than normal, the kids are shouting louder than usual, the groceries and shopping need to be done, your tasks at work appear to be piling up – take a moment, at least one, to find the other side of the situation.

The slow commute may mean you can listen longer to your favorite podcast.  The shouting children may indicate they are communicating instead of staring at their smartphones.  The waiting chores will give you a chance to get parts of the house in order. The tasks in the office showcase the demand for your skills.

Find the other side as soon as you feel stressed out or slowed down, and turn those moments around to suit your purposes.

3.  Hold the happiness mindset as your signature.  Do you have one of those friends who people say is ‘always’ happy?  Should that person be you?   Even if everyone you know finds your insistence on being content to be annoying, hold on to your right to be happy.  In a society embroiled in negative agendas, make yours the opposite.  You may soon find that your insistence rubs off on many more people than it repels.

You can ensure that being happy is built into your self development.  Implement these three steps, and soon you may find that every moment becomes a moment of joy, and support for your inner peace.

Photo source: otsuka88 on Pixabay.com

Can We Train Our Brain for More Empathy and Compassion?

We often hear that we have come to this world only to fight for our own interests and individual survival. But is this true or could it be possible that as human beings we have the compassion that moves us to worry about others as an instinctive characteristic? These are the questions widely discussed in various contexts of our society. 

In general, we live in a society that promotes competitiveness, individuality and a struggle fostering a misinterpretation of Darwin’s Law of Natural Selection: survival of the fittest. The artificial environments existing in large cities and accompanied by technological advancements have been favouring this competitiveness, largely fostered by the dominant political-economic system. This substitution for individual economic survival makes the empathetic, cooperative and altruistic spirit disappear that should instead lead us – as a society – on a more natural path.

We are altruistic by nature

Empathy is nothing but the ability to be in resonance with the feelings of another person. It is the ability to identify and understand the situation of the other, putting ourselves “in their shoes” and seeing things no longer from our own perspective, but from the viewpoint of the other. Being empathetic helps us understand why or how others react to certain situations, which in turn gives us useful information about how we deal with people. Empathy is an extremely positive characteristic to have, since it can help create better relationships and a more peaceful and harmonious world.

The biologist Frans De Waal in his book The Time of Empathy shows us how empathy and altruism arise in humans and animals. For example, it has been scientifically proved that human beings evolve in a group, not individually like other species do. In the following text, I will present evidence from the analysis of the behaviour of great primates, such as chimpanzees, bonobos and Capuchin monkeys, as well as dolphins and elephants, which show that many animals are concerned about their peers and are willing to help them, in some cases even risking their lives. Thus, empathy is an ancestral trait that characterises animals and men, which contradicts the sombre vision of human nature proposed by some (as noted by the famous psychologist Sigmund Freud).

Is empathetic brain predetermined?

Nowadays evolution and the natural world show us that the condition of empathy and altruism towards others is something that is a part of our own nature. However, it is undeniable that some people have a greater capacity than others for expressing these traits and putting them into practice. So, is it that some of these skills are fixed and predetermined or can we develop and improve them throughout our lives?

From the neuro-physiological point of view, empathy is the ability to be in neural resonance with the feelings of another person. Studies carried out by the renowned Max Planck Institute in Germany have showed that some of the autonomous (unconscious) processes of our body undergo changes when a person “comes into resonance” with another. Examples of this are the fact that our eye pupils dilate or contract, our temperature increases and the rhythm of our breathing can be altered, among several others.

The responsible part of the brain for this is called right supramarginal gyrus, and is a part of the cerebral cortex that is located approximately at the junction of the parietal, temporal and frontal lobes. When this region of the brain does not function properly, or when we have to make particularly rapid decisions, our empathetic capacity and compassion are drastically reduced, as researchers have found. This area of ​​the brain helps us distinguish our own emotional state from that of other people, revealing something unusual: that the empathy could be actually represented by brain structures and cell populations

Because the neural circuits of our brain are malleable and can be reconnected through neuroplasticity, the tendency of empathy and compassion is not fixed. We must all practice “putting ourselves in the shoes” of another person to reinforce the neural networks that allow us connect in a positive way with the feelings and circumstances of others. Luckily, these findings provide us with an early evidence that compassion is a skill that can be trained, rather than a stable and a predetermined trait gained at birth, as previously thought. This could be applied in various areas in our society where it is necessary to improve relationships and communication skills such as, health care, education and business.

As easy as sitting down, closing your eyes and meditating

Various studies in the fields of neuroscience have showed that through meditation techniques we can actually “train” our ability to feel compassion and empathy for others, as if it were a muscle of our body. In this sense, areas of our brain change when we train it to be more compassionate through meditation, and as a result, the chemistry of our brain changes activating areas that were not active previously.

There are no easy answers on how to raise people’s awareness and empathetic response. However, by adopting new habits that change the mentality and behavioural choices made on a day-to-day basis, anyone can reconnect their brain to be more empathetic.

One of these habits that allow compassion training, as demonstrated more and more, is to practice a rigorous mindfulness training and loving kindness meditation. This practice, although powerful, is very easy to do. All you need is take a few minutes every day to sit quietly and systematically send thoughts charged with love, well-being and compassion to: (1) family and friends; (2) someone with whom you have tension or conflict; (3) strangers and all living beings around the world who may be suffering; (4) connect with the feeling of self-compassion, forgiveness and love towards oneself.

Doing this simple 4-step practice literally reconnects our brain by involving neural connections linked to empathy. We can feel that the vessels in our brain change and open up to empathy just by spending a few minutes going through this systematic practice of meditation.

How much lightness and joy it is to know that we can improve our capacity to love and interact positively with those around us every day! You and I are the result of four billion years of successful evolution. Let’s act as such! 

Photo by: Hermes Rivera on Unsplash.

Are You an Active Listener?

In the field of teaching the second language to kids, there is a criterion called Active Listening. It’s a period of time that the kid doesn’t talk or communicate verbally. He or she just listens, and you are sometimes confused if they get what you teach. In this case, parents and teachers usually become anxious and they doubt it if the child can learn the language at all.

The pressure might increase on the child to talk and react. However, most of the kids start using the sentences when this time passes. And they astonishingly use the words that we have thought they don’t even know. A child who is not speaking may be actively listening and may need time to process what they are hearing before saying anything. Hence, it is important to value listening, as well as speaking – non verbal responses from young children are perfectly acceptable. They show that the child has understood the message which is very important in the process of child’s development. Even for learning our mother tongue, we used to listen for at least two years before starting to talk. This can be a reminder of how listening is important in our development.

However, as we grow up and become older, we forget how actively we used to listen. Now we are just passive listeners or we randomly hear things around us. So, there is a need to improve listening in our daily life and value this sense as much as other senses. Here are different ways how to practice:

Active Listening in Communication

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

How actively are you involved in a conversation? In dialogues, the focus is usually on speaking. We are in a hurry to reply. We sometimes become restless when we have to listen. We may forget listening and start daydreaming. In sharing ideas, we try to be active in speaking rather than listening to others. A lot of misunderstanding comes from forgetting “effective listening”.

Active Listening in eating

Photo by Mariana Medvedeva on Unsplash

Mindfulness teachers have always said that we should integrate all our five senses for eating. When we eat, we see the food, we smell it, we usually touch it and finally taste it; but how much do we hear the food we eat? It may even seem strange! But it is true that we normally forget to listen to the food! For mindful eating, we are being advised to see it carefully, eat it slowly and be focused on the meal. Some teachers suggest that we need to listen to it. Bring it to your ear, listen to it. Depending on the type of the food, you should give it a squeeze. What do you hear? If you are the one who cooks, listen to the cooking process carefully. What do you hear when you cut something for the food? Just try it once and then compare the enjoyment of applying listening to eating.

 Active Listening at home

Photo by Kai Pilger on Unsplash

Tired of all the unnecessary noises in the house? Long hours of passive listening to the TV or radio while you are doing something else? Be the one who chooses what could be heard at home. It simply depends on you and your type. A relaxing music, the sound of the nature, childish and cheerful songs are all different options. You may also want to listen to the silence of your home. Yes! Silence has its own sound to listen and enjoy.

Active Listening to your inner self

Photo by Taylor Smith on Unsplash

Has it ever happened to you that in the most difficult situations in life, your inner voice starts blaming you? Reminding you the mistakes you have made and making you desperate?

Be aware of it when you carelessly continue listening to this hopeless voice. This is the time for re-parenting. Be a good parent for yourself and change the things you would like to listen to. Be the voice of the parent who encourages you, helps you and gives you strengths and solutions to overcome the challenges. Listen to what you need to listen. Be the chooser!

 

What other activities do you think need active listening?

Featured Image by Mpumelelo Macu on Unsplash

 

 

 

 

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.

4 Ways You Can Use Inner Peace for Sustainability

Inner Peace is the first step towards sustainabiltiy

Climate change is rapidly becoming a big problem of our time. It creates and exposes vast inequalities, and it also threatens the delicate physical conditions needed for life to flourish. For peace and harmony to thrive on Earth, we must address the impact we’re having on the only home we’ve ever known.

But how? Climate change is a big problem, so how can we, the little people, really make a difference? It’s important to pressure politicians and corporations to make changes, but ultimately we are the ones who create our own reality, putting us in the driver’s seat for creating meaningful and long-lasting change.

Mindfulness brings inner peace, and from this position, we can tackle the problem of restoring balance, harmony and peace to the World.

Not convinced? Here are four ways inner peace contributes to sustainability:

1. Living with Compassion

Through mindfulness and meditation, we begin to see interconnectivity, interdependence and impermanence as the true Nature of things. And this perspective fosters compassion.

It starts with compassion for other living things and their suffering. All living things are in a conflict with the physical and metaphysical, and this causes great distress. Mindfulness and meditation allows us to see this, forcing us to approach problems from a position of compassion and not accusation.

But mindfulness also asks us to be aware of consequences. Recognizing the interconnectivity and interdependence of all things reminds us how each and every one of our actions has a consequence, positive or negative.

To achieve environmental sustainability, we need to express more compassion towards the delicacy, difficulty and fragility of life. And we also need to be mindful of our actions to make sure we are positively impacting the environment.

Furthermore, living life with compassion is a powerful way to achieve inner peace. It better equips us to deal with our emotions, and it helps us improve our relationship with ourselves and others. Using mindfulness and meditation to develop compassion helps us achieve peace with ourselves, but it also puts us in a position to live in better harmony with Nature and to tackle the environmental problems we face.

2. Patience as a Key

Patience is key to inner peace, and it’s also critical for tackling climate change and repairing any environmental damage we’ve done. Through meditation and mindfulness, we begin to relinquish control of the reality in which we live. There are some things simply out of our hands.

Achieving inner peace requires us to accept this fate. The frustration that comes from wanting something that cannot be is a great source of suffering. We must recognize our desires for what they are, and accept our powerlessness in whether or not that desire is met. But we must also have faith that awareness and mindfulness will steer us in the right direction.

Making changes in our own lives to promote harmony with Nature will not reverse the effects of climate change overnight. But this does not discount our efforts. Patience helps to ease our worries and concerns, and it reminds us that our actions do have an impact, helping us persevere on the long road ahead towards peace and harmony on Earth.

3. Accepting Impermanence 

Everything is impermanent. Empty. Attachment leads to suffering. This is evident in our societies today. We have so many things, yet happiness still eludes us. Because once we get something, we are immediately dissatisfied and want something else.

Learning to detach from things breaks this cycle. It stops the chasing and pursuing and makes us more mindful and aware of what we have. This allows us to live with more gratitude, and to better experience the love, compassion, harmony and joy that is often right in front of us.

Accepting impermanence and being more mindful of where you are and what you have will bring peace, but it’s also a key change we need to make on our quest towards sustainability.

Our attachment to material things holds us back. It produces an economic paradox: we must grow infinitely in a finite world, which puts tremendous stress on the environment. And our perennial dissatisfaction and desire for more creates incredible waste that threatens life all over the planet.

Embracing impermanence brings peace within, and it gives us a chance at building more sustainable societies.

4. Choosing Positivity

Our thoughts have the power to create the reality in which we live. If we live with fear, anger, guilt or hate, these emotions will manifest themselves in our reality forever. Our collective focus helps determine the future.

This is why Mother Theresa said she’d never attend an “Anti-War” protest but would always go to a “Pro-Peace” rally. This small distinction has powerful implications. Being against something is still dedicating mental energy to that thing, which perpetuates its existence.

To some extent, we cannot control our thoughts; they arise from our experiences and environments. But we can control which one’s we engage with, especially when we practice meditation and mindfulness. When we learn to detach ourselves from our thoughts, we become better at choosing to act with love, compassion, harmony and joy.

Over time, by dedicating our mental energy to positive thoughts and emotions, the reality we create will reflect this positivity. And when lots of us around the world do this, we can shift our collective consciousness to help radiate and attract positivity, peace and harmony.

Think global, act local. Find your inner peace

This saying is popular among sustainability advocates, but it’s also relevant to mindfulness. Peace with yourself is the first step to Peace on Earth. It positions your actions as something truly connected to everything else, helping you live more in harmony with the true Nature of all things.

Cómo cultivar el mindfulness

Minfulness se ha convertido un término de moda de un tiempo a esta parte. Sin embargo, en muchas ocasiones se malinterpreta y desconoce su verdadero significado, más aún cuando se aplica en el contexto de la meditación.

Hay estados mentales, sensaciones o sentimientos que en ocasiones son difíciles de describir, y que algunas lenguas han tenido la capacidad de recoger en un solo término. Este es probablemente el caso de mindful, que, quizá por su afilada certeza en describir un estado mental, se ha adoptado con naturalidad en nuestro propio idioma.

El diccionario define el sustantivo mindfulness con tres sinónimos: attentive, aware, careful; o lo que es lo mismo, atento, consciente, cuidadoso. La acción de practicar el mindfulness convierte a una persona en mindful. Y he aquí una curiosidad; bajo la misma pronunciación se pueden entender dos palabras diferentes, con un significado exactamente opuesto y cuya diferencia cobra aún más sentido simbólico si hablamos de su aplicación literal en el contexto del estudio de la mente… Ambas palabras se diferencian tan solo por una consonante: mindful o mindfull. Lo que en castellano serían, tener o poner atención plena en cada cosa que se hace, y tener la mente llena, respectivamente.

[Fuente: https://peacerevolution.net/]

¿Cuál es la diferencia?

Pasamos media vida con la mente anclada en el pasado y en el futuro. Pensamos en el pasado lejano lamentándonos por cosas que hicimos y evocando recuerdos de vivencias que nos gustaría repetir, a la vez que estamos pendientes del pasado inmediato constantemente ¿dónde dejé las llaves? ¿cerré la puerta del coche? Lo mismo ocurre con el futuro; nos recreamos en imaginar situaciones futuras a la vez que necesitamos pensar en el futuro inmediato para nuestra toma de decisiones inmediatas; ¿qué comeré? ¿llamaré hoy a tal persona o mejor mañana? En definitiva, llenamos nuestra mente de pensamientos, y nos convertimos en mindfull, en mentes llenas.

Estar con la mente en el pasado y el futuro conlleva a que le reste poco espacio para concentrarse en la situación actual, la que estamos viviendo aquí y ahora, en definitiva, al único momento que verdaderamente nos pertenece y sobre el que realmente tenemos control. De este modo, pasamos a meter esta realidad, muchas veces cargada de rutina, en el saco de lo mundano, de aquello que se hace sin pensar, pasando así también a vivir de un modo en el que la multitarea no solo se premia sino que se motiva intencionadamente… ¿por qué no iría yo a aprovechar a leer los últimos titulares en mi teléfono mientras me preparo un vaso de café y me lo bebo como desayuno?

Como consecuencia, vivimos una vida a la que nosotros mismos le restamos interés. Algunos, para recuperar la plenitud, se someten a experiencias extremas, “vivir la vida a tope”. Otros, buscan todo lo contrario; ser mindful, o lo que es lo mismo, poner atención plena en todo lo que hacen, sin importar cuán de mundano y rutinario parezca, para conseguir la misma sensación: ESTAR VIVIENDO LA VIDA CON PLENITUD, CON CONSCIENCIA aprendiendo así a disfrutar de ella en cada momento.

¿Por qué no iba a ser un disfrute preparar el desayuno de cada mañana, oliendo el aroma que desprenden los granos de café al ser molidos, escuchando el sonido de del agua ebullendo borbotones de café, preparando la mezcla perfecta de ingredientes en una taza, paladeando los primeros sorbos…? Ser capaces de disfrutar de algo así requiere entrenar la mente para estar concentrada en una única cosa. Pero lo que es mejor, esta consciencia de los pequeños detalles, acaba por atraer GRATITUD. Gratitud por un día más, por una mañana más, por un desayuno más… ¿o es que acaso tenemos la garantía de que el café de la víspera no fuera a ser el último?

Vivir la vida de forma mindful o con atención plena son el resultado lógico de la práctica de la meditación. Con ella, aprendemos a parar la mente, a llevarla a un estado de quietud, a observar y a ser neutrales. Y, lo que es más importante, con este descanso mental atraemos un profundo bienestar, una fuente inagotable de positivismo.

¿Y tú? ¿Quieres ser mindfull o mindful?