15 Ways to Live, and Not Merely Exist

As Jack London once said, “The proper function of man is to live, not to exist.”  Far too often we travel through life on autopilot, going through the motions, accepting what is, and having every day pass like the one before it.  Everything seems relatively normal and comfortable, except that constant twitch in the back of your mind that’s saying, “It’s time to make some changes.”Get busy living or get busy dying

Here are 15 simple suggestions for those who want to break free from the mold and truly live more of their life – to experience it and enjoy it to the fullest, instead of settling for a mere existence.

  1. Appreciate the great people and things in your life. – Sometimes we don’t notice the things others do for us until they stop doing them.  Don’t be like that.  Be grateful for what you have, who loves you, and who cares for you.  You’ll never know how much they mean to you until the day they’re no longer beside you.  Truly appreciate those around you, and you’ll soon find many others around you.  Truly appreciate life, and you’ll find that you have more of it to live.  Read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
  2. Ignore other people’s negativity. – If you allow people to make more withdrawals than deposits in your life, you will be out of balance and in the negative before you know it.  Ignore unconstructive, hurtful commentary.  No one has the right to judge you.  They may have heard your stories, but they didn’t feel what you were going through.  You do not have control over what others say; but you do have control over whether or not you allow them to say these things to you.  You alone can deny their poisonous words from invading your heart and mind.
  3. Forgive those who have hurt you. – I forgive people, but that doesn’t mean I trust them.  I just don’t have time to hate people who hurt me, because I’m too busy loving people who love me.  The first to apologize is the bravest.  The first to forgive is the strongest.  The first to move forward is the happiest.  Be brave.  Be strong.  Be happy.  Be free.
  4. Be who you really are. – If you’re lucky enough to have something that makes you different from everybody else, don’t change.  Uniqueness is priceless.  In this crazy world that’s trying to make you like everyone else, find the courage to keep being your awesome self.  And when they laugh at you for being different, laugh back at them for being the same.  It takes a lot of courage to stand alone, but it’s worth it.  Being YOU is worth it!
  5. Choose to listen to your inner voice. – Life is a courageous journey or nothing at all.  We cannot become who we want to be by continuing to do exactly what we’ve been doing.  Choose to listen to your inner voice, not the jumbled opinions of everyone else.  Do what you know in your heart is right for YOU.  It’s your road, and yours alone.  Others may walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you.  And be sure to appreciate every day of your life.  Good days give you happiness, bad days give you experience, and the worst days give you the best lessons.  Read Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No.
  6. Embrace change and enjoy your life as it unfolds. – The hardest part about growing is letting go of what you were used to, and moving on with something you’re not.  Sometimes you have to stop worrying, wondering, and doubting, and have faith that things will work out.  Laugh at the confusion, live consciously in the moment, and enjoy your life as it unfolds.  You might not end up exactly where you intended to go, but eventually you will arrive precisely where you need to be.
  7. Choose your relationships wisely. – The best relationships are not just about the good times you share, they’re also about the obstacles you go through together, and the fact that you still say “I love you” in the end.  And loving someone isn’t just about saying it every day, it’s showing it every day in every way.  Relationships must be chosen wisely.  Don’t rush love.  Wait until you truly find it.  Don’t let loneliness drive you back into the arms of someone you know you don’t belong with.  Fall in love when you’re ready, not when you’re lonely.  A great relationship is worth waiting for.
  8. Recognize those who love you. – The most memorable people in your life will be the ones who loved you when you weren’t very loveable.  Pay attention to who these people are in your life, and love them back, even when they aren’t acting loveable.
  9. Love yourself too. – If you can love children, in spite of the messes they make; your mother, in spite of her tendency to nag; your father, even though he’s too opinionated; your sibling, even though she’s always late; your friend, even though he often forgets to return what he borrows, then you know how to love imperfect people, and can surely love yourself.
  10. Do things your future self will thank you for. – What you do every day matters more than what you do every once in a while.  What you do today is important because you are exchanging a day of your life for it.  Make sure it’s worthwhile.
  11. Be thankful for all the troubles you don’t have. – There are two ways of being rich: One is to have all you want, the other is to be satisfied with what you have.  Accept and appreciate things now, and you’ll find more happiness in every moment you live.  Happiness comes when we stop complaining about the troubles we have and offer thanks for all the troubles we don’t have.  And remember, you have to fight through some bad days to earn the best days of your lifeRead The How of Happiness.
  12. Leave enough time for fun. – Sometimes you need to take a few steps back to see things clearly.  Never let your life become so filled with work, your mind become so crammed with worry, or your heart become so jammed with old hurts or anger, that there’s no room left in them for fun, for awe, or for joy.
  13. Enjoy the little things in life.The best things in life are free.  There is absolute joy and wonder to be had in the simplest of moments.  Watching the sunset over the horizon or spending time with a family member. Enjoy the little things, because one day you may look back and discover they were the big things.
  14. Accept the fact that the past is not today. – Don’t let the past steal your present and future from you.  You might not be proud of all the things you’ve done in the past, but that’s okay.  The past is not today.  The past cannot be changed, forgotten, or erased.  It can only be accepted.  We all make mistakes, have struggles, and even regret things in our past.  But you are not your mistakes, you are not your struggles, and you are here NOW with the power to shape your day and your future.
  15. Let go when you must. – It’s not always about trying to fix something that’s broken.  Some relationships and situations just can’t be fixed.  If you try to force them back together, things will only get worse.  Sometimes it’s about starting over and creating something better.  Strength shows not only in the ability to persist, but in the ability to start over again with a smile on your face and passion in your heart.

Written by marc and reblogged with gratitude from http://www.marcandangel.com/2012/03/19/15-ways-to-live-and-not-merely-exist/

Many thanks to my Blog followers!!

I’d like to thank all of my Blog followers for your comments, love and support over the past couple of years. I have not posted recently because I was completing the academic requirements for my academic certification as your Health and Wellness coach. I have now completed my studies, and I look forward to 2013 with a renewed vigor, commitment and compassion to bring you the very best in living WELL, mind, body and spirit,faith words in sky each and every day!

Namaste!

10 Life Lessons People Learn Too Late

Before you know it you’ll be asking, “How did it get so late so soon?”  So take time to figure yourself out.  Take time to realize what you want and need.  Take time to take risks.  Take time to love, laugh, cry, learn, and forgive.  Life is shorter than it often seems.Fish jumping to live life in the big pond

Here are ten things you need to know, before it’s too late:

  1. This moment is your life. – Your life is not between the moments of your birth and death.  Your life is between now and your next breath.  The present – the here and now – is all the life you ever get.  So live each moment in full, in kindness and peace, without fear and regret.  And do the best you can with what you have in this moment; because that is all you can ever expect of anyone, including yourself.  Read The Power of Now.
  2. A lifetime isn’t very long.This is your life, and you’ve got to fight for it.  Fight for what’s right.  Fight for what you believe in.  Fight for what’s important to you.  Fight for the people you love, and never forget to tell them how much they mean to you.  Realize that right now you’re lucky because you still have a chance.  So stop for a moment and think.  Whatever you still need to do, start doing it today.  There are only so many tomorrows.
  3. The sacrifices you make today will pay dividends in the future. – When it comes to working hard to achieve a dream – earning a degree, building a business, or any other personal achievement that takes time and commitment – one thing you have to ask yourself is:  “Am I willing to live a few years of my life like many people won’t, so I can spend the rest of my life like many people can’t?”
  4. When you procrastinate, you become a slave to yesterday. – But when you are proactive, it’s as if yesterday is a kind friend that helps take a load off your back.  So do something right now that your future self will thank you for.  Trust me, tomorrow you’ll be happy you started today.  Read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
  5. Failures are only lessons. – Good things come to those who still hope even though they’ve been disappointed, to those who still believe even though they’ve tasted failure, to those who still love even though they’ve been hurt.  So never regret anything that has happened in your life; it cannot be changed, undone or forgotten.  Take it all as lessons learned and move on with grace.
  6. You are your most important relationship.Happiness is when you feel good about yourself without feeling the need for anyone else’s approval.  You must first have a healthy relationship with yourself before you can have a healthy relationship with others.  You have to feel worthwhile and acceptable in your own eyes, so that you’ll be able to look confidently into the eyes of the people around you and connect with them.
  7. A person’s actions speak the truth. – You’re going to come across people in your life who will say all the right words at all the right times; but in the end, it’s always their actions you should judge them by.  So pay attention to what people do.  Their actions will tell you everything you need to know.
  8. Small acts of kindness can make the world a better place. – Smile at people who look like they are having a rough day.  Be kind to them.  Kindness is the only investment that never fails.  And wherever there is a human being, there’s an opportunity for kindness.  Learn to give, even if it’s just a smile, not because you have too much, but because you understand there are so many others who feel like they have nothing at all.  Read Way of the Peaceful Warrior.
  9. Behind every beautiful life, there has been some kind of pain. – You fall, you rise, you make mistakes, you live, you learn.  You’re human, not perfect.  You’ve been hurt, but you’re alive.  Think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, and to chase the things you love.  Sometimes there is sadness in our journey, but there is also lots of beauty.  We must keep putting one foot in front of the other even when we hurt, for we will never know what is waiting for us just around the bend.
  10. Time and experience heals pain. – Several years ago when I asked my grandmother about overcoming pain, this is how she explained it to me:  Look at the circles below.  The black circles represent our relative life experiences.  Mine is larger because I am older and have experienced more in my lifetime.  The smaller red circles represent a negative event in our lives.  Assume we both experienced the same exact event, whatever the nature.  Notice that the negative event circles are the same size for each of us; but also notice what percentage of the area they occupy in each of the black circles.  Your negative event seems much larger to you because it is a greater percentage of your total life experiences.  I am not diminishing the importance of this event; I simply have a different perspective on it.  What you need to understand is that an overwhelmingly painful event in your life right now will one day be part of your much larger past and not nearly as significant as it seems.

Written by marc and reblogged with gratitude from http://www.marcandangel.com/2012/11/12/10-life-lessons-people-learn-too-late/

Soothing the Season – Natural Remedies to Ease Holiday Stress

As the holiday season approaches, your task list may begin to overwhelm you. There are office parties, social engagements, gift buying, children’s recitals, holiday meals, travel, and financial decisions — all tapping on your shoulder and demanding attention. Where do you begin?

“We have to resist the speediness around us,” says Hyla Cass, M.D., coauthor of several books, including Natural Highs: Feel Good All the Time (Avery, 2002). “All the forces are pushing us to perform, to always be doing and going,” she says. “It can really wreak havoc. Remember to slow down and breathe.”

A consistent routine can also help alleviate anxiety, says Lynne Paige Walker, PharmD, D Hom., LAc, and author of A Woman’s Complete Guide to Natural Health. “We don’t know what to expect at any given time,” she says. “Consequently, we are always running on adrenaline. Getting into a pattern can ease anxiousness.”

While slowing down and adhering to a schedule may be two tactics to help deal with life’s pressures, Cass and Walker agree that, as holiday stress and anxiety mount, the following calming remedies may also help you center yourself in the eye of this seasonal storm. Of course, it’s crucial you consult your physician before adding any of these products to your regimen.

CALMING HERBS
Kava kava
(Piper methysticum) can be accurately described by simply translating its Latin name, which means intoxicating pepper. Unique to the South Pacific, kava kava has long been used by native islanders to induce calm, relaxation, and sleep. This botanical — most effective in whole plant form — works on the muscles directly, as well as on the limbic system’s amygdala complex, considered the emotional command center of the brain.

Contraindications include pregnancy and nursing, Parkinson’s disease, and antianxiety drugs. Because of the sedative effects in high doses, exercise caution when driving or operating heavy machinery.

Recommended dose: 100-250 mg one to two times daily, standardized to 30 percent kavalactones per dose.

Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) is “nature’s Valium,” Cass says. This folk remedy is another effective antianxiety herb that enjoys great popularity in Europe. The components in valerian have a sedative effect on the central nervous system by enhancing gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) activity. GABA is a calming amino acid and neurotransmitter that induces relaxation, lifts spirits, and slows heart rate.

Valerian comes with few cautions. However, Cass notes, those taking certain drugs should only use valerian under a practitioner’s supervision. “Valerian can interact with alcohol and certain antihistamines, muscle relaxants, psychotropic drugs, and narcotics,” she says.

Recommended dose: 200 mg four times a day, standardized to between 0.8 percent and 1 percent valerenic acids per dose.

St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) has had its share of publicity in recent years, first being heralded as a panacea for depression, then denigrated to hoax when used to cure severe cases. The data reveal, in fact, that this tried-and-true herb amplifies the response to serotonin and is thus effective for both mild to moderate depression and anxiety. Three studies revealed that St. John’s wort mimicked commonly prescribed antidepressants — such as Luvox, Paxil, Prozac, and Zoloft — alleviating depression-related anxiety and insomnia.

St. John’s wort is contraindicated during pregnancy and lactation and should not be taken by those on blood thinning, antianxiety, or antidepressant drugs. This herb may also inhibit the efficacy of birth control pills.

Recommended dose: 300 mg three times a day, standardized to 0.3 percent to 0.5 percent hypericin and/or 3 percent to 5 percent hyperforin per dose. May take four to six weeks before results are evident.

SERENE SUPPLEMENTS
GABA,
mentioned above as a component in valerian, controls the release of dopamine for a calming effect. “GABA helps shift a tense, worried state to relaxation,” Cass says. GABA can easily cross from the bloodstream into the brain, ensuring its efficacy, she explains.

Don’t use GABA with alcohol or sedative drugs, including muscle relaxants and antihistamines, because it could exaggerate the effects.

Recommended dose: 50-100 mg three times a day.

Inositol, included in B-complex vitamins, is a natural isomer of glucose and is gaining popularity as an antianxiety remedy. In one study, subjects taking inositol reduced the number of panic attacks by four a week, while those taking the prescription drug Fluvoxamine experienced a reduction of 2.4 attacks.

Cass says several B vitamins influence emotional health, including vitamins B6 (pyridoxine) and B12 (cyanocobalamin), as well as folate, and should be taken in combination.

Recommended dose: 100-500 mg a day.

TRANQUIL LIFESTYLE OPTIONS
Exercise
has time and again proven its ability to effectively reduce anxiety. Here’s why: In cases of chronic panic and anxiety, the hormone cortisol is continually released and blood sugar levels take a nose dive, resulting in even more anxiety, fatigue, and mood swings. Exercise counteracts this by reducing cortisol levels and balancing blood sugar levels.

Massage releases endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemical, which can ease anxiety and stress. And by helping muscles truly relax, massage lowers blood pressure, increases deep sleep, reduces fatigue, and increases energy. Like yoga, massage can also induce a meditative state or heightened awareness of the present moment, manifesting in emotional and spiritual balance.

Yoga and meditation have thousands of years of anecdotal evidence behind their antianxiety effects, and the scientific research is also growing. One 1999 study calculated the role yoga played in the life of 50 first-year medical students in reducing anxiety during routine activities and prior to exams. Students practicing yoga showed significantly reduced anxiety levels after yoga practice, even on exam days. The yoga subjects also achieved a considerably higher number of passing exams compared to the control students. “The breath, movement, and posture are harmonized to remove physical blocks and tension in the body,” Cass says, “promoting physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being.”

Additional studies suggest meditation induces greater immunity, and other bodywork therapies such as tai chi appear to have similar benefits.

TAKING CONTROL
So where do you begin if the anxiety and stress are gaining ground? Cass believes the first step to controlling anxiety is diet. “Make sure you’re getting lots of fruits, vegetables, and protein. Limit or avoid altogether refined sugars, caffeine, and alcohol, which are empty calories that can over-stimulate the system and ultimately increase stress.”

Walker agrees: “Ingesting pesticides, chemicals, and food additives overwhelms the liver, then it can no longer efficiently clean the blood. This imbalance contributes to anxiety.” She also reveals one of her favorite tactics for inducing calm. “I recommend putting a few drops of Rescue Remedy in a bottle of water and drinking it throughout the day while at work,” she says. This combination of flower essences, likely the most popular of the Bach Flower remedies, includes star of Bethlehem, clematis, cherry plum, impatiens, and rock rose, and is used to ease stress, trauma, fear, and anxiety. In addition, both Cass and Walker acknowledge the importance of a good night’s sleep — think chamomile, skullcap, hops, passionflower, and lavender for nightcap teas.

Natural remedies may be the key to breezing through this holiday season with the grace and ease you always include on your holiday wish list. This year, with a little natural help, you just might get them.

By Lara Evans Bracciante the online editor for Body Sense magazine.

Consult with your primary care physician before adding any supplement to your healthcare routine. Dosage sources from Natural Therapeutics Pocket Guide, 2000-2001 (LexiComp, 2000) by James B. LaValle, D.L. Krinsky, et al. and Natural Highs: Feel Good All the Time (Avery, 2002) by Hyla Cass.

Originally published in Body Sense magazine, Autumn/Winter 2004.
Copyright 2004. Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals. All rights reserved.

15 Gifts You Can Give Yourself for Free

The best things in life aren’t things.  So next time you want to give yourself a gift, save your money, and consider gifting yourself one of the following instead:

  1. The freedom to be unapologetically YOU. – Wearing a mask wears you out.  Faking it is fatiguing.  The most arduous activity is pretending to be what you know you aren’t.  Trying to fit some idealistic mold of perfection is a fool’s game.  It’s much wiser to just be yourself – faults and all.  Take off your mask and start being unapologetic about who you really are.  Remember, imperfection is beauty; madness is genius.  It is better to be ridiculously you, than ridiculously boring by trying to be the same as everyone else.  Read The Mastery of Love.
  2. An uninhibited imagination. – If we’ve learned anything as a society over the past few decades, it’s that life is changing faster and faster with every passing day.  The world tomorrow looks nothing like the world today.  And the people with big imaginations are the ones not just living it, they are creating it.
  3. An open mind. – Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t; everyone can teach you something new.  The purpose of keeping an open mind isn’t just to change your mind, it’s to expand your mind to understand the true potential in each moment of your life – to discover a self who has the ability to see more possibilities and expanded points of view (even the ones opposing yours) and then to choose creatively, intuitively, and sacredly going forward.
  4. The commitment to fail forward. – Failing is as certain as sunsets and detours.  So why exert energy avoiding the unavoidable?  Embrace it.  Shift your energy from protecting yourself from failure to squeezing the life out of life.  Get real comfortable with that uneasy feeling of going against the grain and trying something new.  Doing so will always take you to places you never thought you could go.
  5. Using encouraging words. – Words are powerful.  They can create or they can destroy.  The simple words you choose, especially when you speak to yourself or about yourself, can offer encouragement and positive thoughts going forward, or they can send you further into despair.  So choose your words wisely.
  6. A ‘glass’ filled with the right things. – It’s not just whether your glass is half-empty or half-full that matters.  You also have to be mindful of what you’re filling your glass with.  Be sure to fill it with those things that satisfy your soul: good friends and family to love, passions to pursue, dreams to fulfill, and charity for others.  Because the only situation more tragic than seeing your glass as half-empty, is filling your glass until it is overflowing, and then realizing that there’s nothing in it to satisfy your thirst for a meaningful life.
  7. Enjoying what you have. – The thing you need to do is enjoy the ride while you’re on it.  Think positive, be positive, and positive things will happen.  Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not.  Enjoy your blessings right now.  Remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.  Celebrate this.  Work on being so appreciative and happy that when others look at you, they become a little happier too.
  8. Lifelong learning. – You are simply the product of what you know, so develop a passion for acquiring knowledge.  A passion for learning is different from just studying to earn a grade or please teachers.  It begins in the heart and home.  Read for pleasure, ask questions, analyze, and exploit your curiosities.  In other words, learn to actually love the act of learning.  Read The Last Lecture.
  9. Hope. – Remember, it’s always darkest just before the dawn.  Never underestimate the strength of your will to live after a loss, to love after heartache, or to rise after a fall.  For although your troubles may be too dense and dark right now for you to see the light, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a strong spirit within them, or a beautiful sunrise just beyond the horizon.
  10. Spirituality. – Faith elevates your view of the universe, your world, and your life.  You would be wise to instill into your mind that you are more than just flesh and blood taking up space.  You are also made of heart, soul, and will.  And decisions in your life should be based on more than just what everyone else with flesh and blood is doing on the outside.
  11. Stability and love at home. – A stable home becomes the foundation on which you build the rest of your success.  Subconsciously we all need to know we have a family core who we can trust, and who is going to be there for us through thick and thin.  Faithfulness to your partner is a big part of this.  Faithfulness in any intimate relationship includes more than just your body; it also includes your eyes, mind, heart, and soul.  Guard your sexuality daily and devote it entirely to the one you love.
  12. A positive temper.Anger can be useful in calling your attention to issues that require your response; but anger itself is not an effective response.  Take a slow, deep breath, and remind yourself of how much more effective you can be by maintaining a positive, results-oriented approach to the issue at hand.  Don’t let the silly, thoughtless, destructive actions of others trap you in an unproductive state of anger.  Take note of your anger, let it go, redirect your focus on being your best self, and you’ll surely emerge with a smile.  Read Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff.
  13. A sense of humor. – He or she who laughs, lasts.  A sense of humor is a major defense against minor troubles – something life is filled with.  So laugh as often as you can with those around you, for your sake and theirs.
  14. Doing the best you are capable of. – Don’t complain about something you can actually do something about.  Take action.  Do the best that you’re capable of.  Any less is cheating yourself.  Those who get the most from life are those who give the most.  Find something you’re passionate about, and keep tremendously interested in it and focused on it.
  15. Being the change you want to see. – Happiness, freedom, and peace of mind are always attained by giving them without expectation.  The only way to raise yourself up is to raise others up – to raise your world up – to raise all of life just a little higher.  Joy comes to you when you give it.  Happiness becomes yours when you live it.  Everything you need you are already capable of being.  So smile from the heart and fulfill the destiny that is yours in this priceless moment.

Written by Marc and Reblogged with Gratitude from http://www.marcandangel.com/2012/11/23/15-gifts-you-can-give-yourself-for-free/#more-538

Serendipity in Every Day – Lifestyle

We all know that person. The man or woman with the seemingly perfect life, all in control, with everything seeming to always break his or her way. “They’re just so lucky,” is a familiar refrain. And so it would seem. I would argue, though, that luck has little to do with good fortune.

It is a paradox that I refer to as the fortune-cookie myth. Luck, like happiness, is a moment in time we attempt to reclaim. Luck is, essentially, uncontrollable; it is fleeting, like that little scrap of paper drawn from the cookie: unpredictable, ineffable, and fallible. While it is impossible to predict that moment of luck, the key is learning to create and sustain a momentum of good fortune in a far easier and more predictable manner.

When we learn to apply four simple skills, we find the good things we expect from life come more consistently, and life’s inevitable hiccups can often be turned to our advantage. Embarking on this path to good fortune is as simple as learning to See, Sow, Grow, and Share opportunities.

See with Circular Vision. Broaden your observation to see beyond the obvious details in front of you, thus enlarging your field of opportunity.

Sow Entrepreneurial Seeds. When good vision is met with consistent, hand-dirtying execution every day, the result is a stable, growing fortune.

Grow Seeds of Greatest Potential. Learn how to recognize the most promising opportunities and give them the right amount of attention; don’t let the best opportunities wilt and don’t waste energy on opportunities with limited potential.

Share the Harvest. Focus on meeting others’ needs to improve personal good fortune; make generosity part of your purpose. Sharing the harvest is one’s ability to lead with kindness.

I have found it an interesting truth, as I’ve addressed audiences and mentored individuals from coast to coast–women tend to adopt and apply these skills more readily than men.

The strong and natural networking skills that women possess, coupled with their eagerness to see and seize the opportunities that lay before them make them easy masters of seeing and sowing. Women, in my experience, also seem to inherently apply analytical skills to their personal and professional relationships, which gives them an advantage in growing their seeds of greatest potential. And that most women seem to be instinctive givers means that sharing the harvest is almost second nature.

In the end, learning to earn serendipity means learning to approach our everyday encounters and activities with an entrepreneurial mind-set. It means learning to live our lives as if we own them. I don’t believe for one moment that anyone’s life is actually perfect, but with work and the proper focus, good fortune is yours for the making.

By Glenn Llopis, a speaker, trainer, and president and chief executive officer of Glenn Llopis Group, LLC. He is president of the E2E Mentor Program at the University of California-Irvine’s executive MBA program and lectures at Vanguard University. Llopis is the author of Earning Serendipity: Four Skills for Creating and Sustaining Good Fortune in Your Work, (Greenleaf Book Group Press, 2009).

Originally published in Skin Deep, September/October 2009. Copyright 2009. Associated Skin Care Professionals. All right reserved.

Happy Thanksgiving!

While each and every day should be heralded as a day of giving thanks for our life’s expression here on Mother Earth, this special day is set aside to offer collective thanks for all to share love, peace and happiness with family, friends and loved ones. Please have a Glorious Day!
To Your Holistic Health!

50 Questions That Will Free Your Mind

These questions have no right or wrong answers.

Because sometimes asking the right questions is the answer.

  1. How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?
  2. Which is worse, failing or never trying?
  3. If life is so short, why do we do so many things we don’t like and like so many things we don’t do?
  4. When it’s all said and done, will you have said more than you’ve done?
  5. What is the one thing you’d most like to change about the world?
  6. If happiness was the national currency, what kind of work would make you rich?
  7. Are you doing what you believe in, or are you settling for what you are doing?
  8. If the average human life span was 40 years, how would you live your life differently?
  9. To what degree have you actually controlled the course your life has taken?
  10. Are you more worried about doing things right, or doing the right things?
  11. You’re having lunch with three people you respect and admire.  They all start criticizing a close friend of yours, not knowing she is your friend.  The criticism is distasteful and unjustified.  What do you do?
  12. If you could offer a newborn child only one piece of advice, what would it be?
  13. Would you break the law to save a loved one?
  14. Have you ever seen insanity where you later saw creativity?
  15. What’s something you know you do differently than most people?
  16. How come the things that make you happy don’t make everyone happy?
  17. What one thing have you not done that you really want to do?  What’s holding you back?
  18. Are you holding onto something you need to let go of?
  19. If you had to move to a state or country besides the one you currently live in, where would you move and why?
  20. Do you push the elevator button more than once?  Do you really believe it makes the elevator faster?
  21. Would you rather be a worried genius or a joyful simpleton?
  22. Why are you, you?
  23. Have you been the kind of friend you want as a friend?
  24. Which is worse, when a good friend moves away, or losing touch with a good friend who lives right near you?
  25. What are you most grateful for?
  26. Would you rather lose all of your old memories, or never be able to make new ones?
  27. Is is possible to know the truth without challenging it first?
  28. Has your greatest fear ever come true?
  29. Do you remember that time 5 years ago when you were extremely upset?  Does it really matter now?
  30. What is your happiest childhood memory?  What makes it so special?
  31. At what time in your recent past have you felt most passionate and alive?
  32. If not now, then when?
  33. If you haven’t achieved it yet, what do you have to lose?
  34. Have you ever been with someone, said nothing, and walked away feeling like you just had the best conversation ever?
  35. Why do religions that support love cause so many wars?
  36. Is it possible to know, without a doubt, what is good and what is evil?
  37. If you just won a million dollars, would you quit your job?
  38. Would you rather have less work to do, or more work you actually enjoy doing?
  39. Do you feel like you’ve lived this day a hundred times before?
  40. When was the last time you marched into the dark with only the soft glow of an idea you strongly believed in?
  41. If you knew that everyone you know was going to die tomorrow, who would you visit today?
  42. Would you be willing to reduce your life expectancy by 10 years to become extremely attractive or famous?
  43. What is the difference between being alive and truly living?
  44. When is it time to stop calculating risk and rewards, and just go ahead and do what you know is right?
  45. If we learn from our mistakes, why are we always so afraid to make a mistake?
  46. What would you do differently if you knew nobody would judge you?
  47. When was the last time you noticed the sound of your own breathing?
  48. What do you love?  Have any of your recent actions openly expressed this love?
  49. In 5 years from now, will you remember what you did yesterday?  What about the day before that?  Or the day before that?
  50. Decisions are being made right now.  The question is:  Are you making them for yourself, or are you letting others make them for you?

Post written by: Marc and reblogged with Gratitude from:  http://www.marcandangel.com/2009/07/13/50-questions-that-will-free-your-mind/

Life as a Game – Five rules for coming out ahead

Cover of "Conquering the Game of Life: A ...

We frequently refer to life as a game. As with any game, rules prevail. Yet in life, we’re not given a rule book. Each of us plays with our own unwritten game book, made up of our own rules, as well as those that have been imparted to us by our parents, friends, and peers. But the rules are not standardized; not everyone plays the same way and conflicts occur. The key is to be intentional and develop a clear game plan for our own lives. No other person can get you to awaken to the present moment in your life but you. I was motivated by my experience as a physician in relating to patients, my personal ordeal dealing with a potentially deadly health problem, and the unexpected loss of both parents in a short time frame. Following are five rules for winning the game.

Know Yourself. Just as athletes train their bodies to participate in a sport, you also can develop emotional skills and get to know your qualities, weaknesses, and inner strengths for winning life’s game. When we know ourselves, we know how we’ll react in any given situation.

Create a Vision for Your Life. Principles and values such as honesty, integrity, service, and spirituality, make up the core of this new vision. It should also encompass time spent with your family, personal time for hobbies, exercise, work, and so forth, and include whatever other goals you want to achieve.

Ask for What You Want. If you don’t ask for what you want and seek it out, you’ll never know what you might have. Ask. Consciously seek what you want in life and be prepared for when it presents itself.

Celebrate Your Victories. You don’t have to be an athlete or a movie star to celebrate your victories. The act of commemorating your personal triumphs increases the richness of your life journey. Stop and take a moment to relish the achievement. Record it in a journal and set aside time to read it, savor it, and enjoy the magic in your life.

Share Yourself with Others. As you learn more about yourself and feel more confident in who you are, you increase your ability to share of yourself. Expanding in this area allows other people to expand as well and to feel free to express who they are, to share their emotions, their ups and downs, and their experiences in the game of life. That makes us all richer.

In the game of life, every person has to decide to commit to how to live. Each of us is empowered to be the observer, the coach, or the player. We can write our own rule book for success. That doesn’t mean casting aside society’s values; it means accepting the ones that reflect how we experience life. It is realizing we’re in control, that we have the ability to decide what to experience, to ask for what we desire, and to be surprised at what we can attain.

By C.K. Hersh, MD, author of Conquering the Game of Life: A Guide to Competing and Winning. Contact him at www.conqueringthegameoflife.com.

Originally published in Skin Deep, July/August 2009. Copyright 2009. Associated Skin Care Professionals. All right reserved.

Do You Hear What I Hear? – Exploring New Gateways To Healing With Sound

For centuries, healers have intuitively used the therapeutic powers of sound. In the native traditions of ancient cultures, examples of sound and vibration — as elemental in creation and to wholeness — abound. Whales, for example, are clairaudient: they can hear both very low and very high frequencies, and can communicate through complex vibrational patterns. In some Native American traditional stories, whale medicine people are said to have the ability to tap into a universal conscious-ness, accessing a source akin to the shaman’s use of a drum beat to connect with the rhythm of a “universal heartbeat.” Sound is a powerful, primitive force. Today, a growing number of modern practitioners are rediscovering sound as a tool for healing and realignment. One place where this kind of healing is being explored and refined is the Kairos Institute of Sound Healing in Seattle, Wash.

Seeing Sound as Medicine
The Kairos Institute was the vision of Donna Carey and Marjorie de Myunck, who combined, have more than 25 years of experience in the healing and creative arts. Carey is a licensed acupuncturist, herbalist, educator and poet, while de Myunck is a musician, composer, and a massage practitioner with extensive experience in Shiatsu, cranial sacral, Jin Shin Do, myofascial release and reiki. Both women are passionate in their belief that sound therapy is the medicine of the future.

When I first met Carey and de Myunck, I knew little about sound and its healing properties. I knew even less about sound’s profound connection between spirit and life force. It wasn’t that I didn’t love sound. I had enthusiastically attended two shamanic workshops, I owned a Huichol Indian rattle and eventually would purchase an Australian-made didgeridoo. I knew I loved music and rhythm, but eventually I learned sound is more than simply musical — it is the root of all melodies.

During those first meetings, I thought of sound therapy and harmonic medicine as “ethereal” concepts, but knew these two practitioners were somehow using them to correct physical, as well as spiritual disharmony. I couldn’t help wondering how a seemingly intangible mix of musical tools and bodywork could result in healing that would be more than temporary or superficial. Now, more than a year and dozens of sound therapy treatments later, my physical and spiritual bodies — which I hadn’t previously seen as separated — have begun to unite. Today, grounding my energy (always a challenge for me) is easier; physical and emotional issues seem fewer. This is the kind of balance Carey and de Myunck aim for within the field of healing they call Acutonics and Harmonic Medicineâ„¢.

Acutonics and Harmonic Medicine, as taught at the Kairos Institute, helps unite healing and the arts in our present-day world. Using a shamanic approach, sound waves and vibrations are used in a “sound temple” to carry the receiver to other realms where healing can begin. The Kairos Institute’s sound temple is a specially-built room with a bodywork table in the center, representing an altar. Lying there, eyes closed, I’ve often been able to sense the traditionally ancient instruments around me. Many of these tools have been used since the beginning of time to create music, and to aid healing: planetary gongs and Tibetan bowls, didgeridoos, rattles and drums. Other, more modern sound therapy tools are also used — tuning forks, chimes, resonator plates and sound discs. All play an important role in healing.

A Sound Healing
Kairos, a Greek word defined in scholarly terms as “a critical time when opportunity and action intersect,” can also be defined loosely as “God’s time” or open time. The Institute, which evolved primarily in response to an increasing need for a different way to help people with modern-day physical and spiritual problems, was named Kairos to denote space and time. I’d been going to the Institute regularly for months before I thought to ask what the name meant. The explanation of “open time” made sense for me, since I typically seemed to emerge feeling more receptive and able to cope with anything that might come up during the rest of my day or week. Personally, I tend toward a relatively open-minded approach to concepts, the opinions of others, even unusual behavior, but I can also be distrustful of people unless I feel I can accurately analyze their motivation. One benefit of my treatments at Kairos, in addition to helping me physically, has been to aid me in opening to the life process. For example, I’m better able to relax and accept behavior and events at face value. For me, “open time” equates to a calmer outlook.

My hour-long sessions at Kairos generally began with a short discussion of physical and emotional symptoms, and sometimes included questions about my diet, issues at work or aspects of my personal life. At the start of my initial sound healing treatment, I was asked about my comfort level with the use of the Institute’s large, pounded-metal gongs. Strikingly beautiful to look at, each resonates a noticeably different tone. A different planetary symbol is burnished onto the center of each, indicating its astrological sign and sound. My sound therapist explained that each gong has a specific healing attribute based on its planetary archetype and vibration. I’ve noted they are sometimes used in combination to create what is called a “healing interval.” Carey and de Myunck each draw on years of bodywork and healing, as well as astrological study and musical experience to determine which gongs to sound and how loudly.

Stretched comfortably on a full-length bodywork table, covered loosely in a sheet or a light blanket, the dimly-lit treatment room has the feeling of a temple. Symbolic, shamanic objects are scattered throughout the space, with walls painted a deep earthen-clay color. Drums line the wall just outside the room; Tibetan bowls sit on a low windowsill flanked by candles. The gongs surround me. A hawk’s tail feather, found in the wild, is visible. Sensitive since childhood to what I think of as “place vibes,” this room immediately encloses me with an intense feeling of security.

As my sound healer enters the room, I’m already relaxing. Treatments may begin with relaxing touch or with applying tuning forks to various points on my body and tapping them lightly to induce vibration. At times, two forks are used simultaneously. The vibrations are pleasant-sounding, but after a few sessions, I begin to realize much more is happening. For one thing, my ongoing chronic neck pain finally begins to show improvement. Even as a teenager, I’d been prone to pain in areas around my joints and, in my 20s, had been diagnosed twice with bursitis. For me, sound therapy has proven to be a preventive measure, as well as a reparative treatment.
As the practitioner moves quietly around the table, I try to concentrate on my breathing — slow and steady. At times, a chime is struck, or a vibrating Tibetan singing bowl is placed on my torso near my heart. Surprisingly, during my first treatment, none of this startled me. In later sessions, I am so calm I can occasionally drift into a dreamy, near-sleep state.

The goal here, in short, is putting the body’s rhythms back in order. According to Carey and de Myunck, our bodies have lost connection to the power and the magic of the inner cycles and the great cycles of the universe that inform it. Imbalance and disease of the body occur when the systems within it, which are holographic reflections of the cycles, patterns and pulses in the universe, are in a state of disharmony. The harmony in our body is a sacred balance between the world of the soma, psyche and soul and finds power and rhythm within the continuous cycles of the universe.

Harmonic Attunement and Acutonics
Based on a centuries-old practice, specially calibrated tuning forks are being used in innovative ways during a session, and are integrated into the practice as a substitute for acupuncture needles. This blend of new and old healing techniques is one Carey and de Myunck hope to continue exploring in their work.

They named this needleless, non-invasive system the Acutonicsâ„¢ Healing System. Placed with precision on the body’s acupressure points, the tuning forks access meridian and chakra energies in the body, as well as generate healing. The Acutonics healing system is a complementary, but distinct method of healing within harmonic medicine and refers specifically to the use of tuning forks as healing tools.

Acupuncture and acupressure points have been known and used in medicine since early physicians in Asia discovered a system of cyclic energy flowing along particular pathways — meridians — in the human body. A specific physiological system and internal organ is associated with each pathway. Ancient healers also realized disease may result from an imbalance or blocking of energy in these pathways and their associated organic system. These energy meridians connect to the body’s surface at certain locations on the skin, called points or gateways. To open up the healing potential of each point, the resonating tuning fork is applied on or over the area to correct specific imbalances. Traditional acupuncture and acupressure each help heal and balance the body using these concepts. Acutonics adds other pieces — exploration of “world harmonies,” sound imprinting and the potential of the human body as a sound resonator within the realm of healing.

The term “resonance” can be defined as the vibration set up by contact with an object sympathetic to a frequency. With harmonic medicine, a belief that the body is a natural sound resonator means our physical forms are sympathetic to — perhaps even “recognize” on a cellular level — particular frequencies or vibrations created by tapping the tuning fork, applying it to energy points on the body and potentially resetting the cellular memory. Tuning forks are also used, on occasion, in a variation on a traditional shamanic mediumistic practice for space healing. Many people are familiar with the burning of sage to cleanse a room. By using the forks in a ritualistic manner for clearing a physical space of negative energies, a “sick” or imbalanced space can be reharmonized.

Harmonic Attunement is the phrase Carey and de Myunck use to describe the comprehensive system they have developed which incorporates all the healing tools I’ve experienced at the Institute. The tones of the tuning forks and gongs are based on natural harmonies associated with the orbital properties of the planets, particularly the Earth, Moon and Sun. By connecting with the body’s natural frequencies, the resonance and vibrations experienced when using the instruments in a healing session help bring body and spirit into alignment with natural cosmic cycles. These planetary cycles and frequencies have been known since ancient times as “the music of the spheres.” In 6th century Egypt, Pythagoras — considered the “father” of mathematics — investigated musical theory of the time and eventually used sound theory to teach purification of the soul. He challenged his students to “come nearer to the gods,” to find salvation by uniting with the “Divine Cosmos” and by studying cosmic order through the music of the spheres.

The theory underlying Harmonic Attunement, then, is that it connects the individual with the source of original harmony, providing access and communication to spiritual harmony, peace and balance, and sonically resetting negative cellular patterns in the body – a concept known as “sound imprinting.” In shamanic practice, music and sounds such as drumming, rattling and incantations often induce dreams and visions of creation. For several years, de Myunck has participated in serious study and ritual practice with an Indian shaman in the Seattle area. She experiences how intense sound, music and ceremony can be in helping participants connect with their own spiritual harmony and source of creation. Drumming, in particular, has been used nearly universally in religious and healing practice by shamans of many cultures. The repetitive, percussive beats aid a transition from one state of consciousness to another.

Harmonic Attunement and Acutonics treat neurological, gastrointestinal, respiratory and chronic gynecological ailments. As an overall approach it has been successfully used to improve emotional and psychological issues, as well as readjust psychospiritual energy. These systems are grounded in the wisdom of 5,000-year-old healing practices based on cyclic energy flowing throughout the body’s pathways.

Visions Heard
During my first healing session, as I concentrated on the tones while certain gongs were gently struck, an unexpected, though vivid image came to mind. I saw myself dressed in a white draping garment, best described as a flowing robe. In the middle of some vast expanse of “wilderness” — an open area with no foliage — I saw myself pass gracefully through a large, arched gate of stone. Since I was unfamiliar with the terminology of harmonic medicine at that time, the image of a “gateway” didn’t impress me as significant. When I later described the image to Carey and de Myunck, their response was positive and accepting — but not particularly surprised. “There are many examples of scientifically-proven theories that show sound takes form…it can move into form and take shape,” said Carey. “People tell us of seeing forms, colors, shapes and other visions during a treatment, and it’s not unusual. It does suggest they’ve entered a different healing state of consciousness.”

Other Kairos clients, I’m told, have reported a variety of sensations during treatments. Geometric shapes, simple and complex, are frequently mentioned, as well as lights and colors. In one case, while de Myunck played a didgeridoo during a session, the female client described an image of an old woman playing a didgeridoo, whom she “knew” to be an Aborigine elder-woman.

A more recent reminder of the potential for this kind of healing imagery in conjunction with sound healing was a brief vision I experienced near the end of a treatment. Vaguely aware my therapist had quietly left the room, I continued to lie on the “altar” and wait, as I always do, for a return to my normal conscious state. With my eyes still closed, I was slightly surprised to notice two seemingly-disembodied hand shapes silhouetted and hovering over my face. Colored a purple-blue, the hands gave me the sense of a protective, positive presence. Once I opened my eyes, they disappeared. Although I can certainly be analytical and disbelieving at times, I couldn’t shake the feeling that the “hands” had offered me some sort of mystical bonus, especially since that day’s treatment had focused extensively on areas around my neck and face.

Through the Gateway
Modern science has shown that in the human body, auditory nerves are linked to our sense of proportion and balance, and have the power to shift our energy to the “center,” bringing about a feeling of connection and serenity. Long ago, the human nervous system was not fully understood — but with intuitive wisdom, healers and shamans of many cultures correctly sensed that listening to vibrational sound helps us access these auditory nerves in a way which may increase receptivity to healing energy. They knew sounds and music could induce trance states to help identify illness, and even open gateways for new healing energy to flow through. Healers of old, as of today, were concerned with body, mind or soul. The more enlightened of them worked to integrate all three.

Centuries later, at Seattle’s Kairos Institute of Sound Healing, a new approach to physical and spiritual realignment comes from a unique fusion of specially-pitched tuning forks and traditional spiritual healing tools, supported by music theory, shamanic ritual and Oriental medicine, and supplemented by several bodywork techniques. The primitive powers of sound for healing are being rediscovered there as a means to heal body, mind and spirit and re-establish healthier patterns for wholeness. For those who choose to cross through the “gateway” to healing, the result can be one of health and balance.

By Karen Lynch a freelance writer, in Seattle, Wash. In her personal life, she has spent the past four years exploring a variety of spiritual and psychological philosophies. She has been a Kairos Institute client for more than two years and can be contacted via e-mail at karen.lynch@ ci.seattle.wa.us. For more information about harmonic medicine at the Kairos Institute, visit their website at http://www.kairos-institute.com. In addition to workshops, Carey and de Myunck also offer consulting to anyone with an interest in using sound to harmonize a workspace or a home.

Originally published in Massage & Bodywork magazine, August/September 2002.  Copyright 2003. Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals. All rights reserved.

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