This page I call the LifeToolsBlog, the blog of tools that gives us practical how-to ideas about how to reach higher levels of consciousness with the intent of living better and smarter. I do this through sharing some of the most impacting conferences, and notes from books, that I know can help in the path of growth and development during our human experience. This page contains an index that indicates the name of the different conferences following this introduction.
The blogs will contain information that I feel gives us the tools that help us live our lives more fully, more aware, and more in control so that we can direct our attention away from petty concerns, as well as preoccupations, and focus not only at finding solutions, but also on growing spiritually from these experiences that bring preoccupation, that impact our lives, that bring distress and pain, ultimately learning how to keep a balance, manage stress, while still enjoying our lives. We will be able to enjoy our experiences more as we are gathering meaning and purpose in each of them. We also enjoy life more when we are expanding our knowledge and we become conscious of how to manage the everyday drama in our lives through implementing some practical tools as part of our maintenance plan for life.
I hope you enjoy them, that it touches and enlightens you as much as they have for me. I wrote them, because I felt that I needed to read them a few times to understand them; each time you review them, you just seem to understand them better and therefore able to implement the knowledge in a practical way in our lives and gain the rewards as it is intended.
I encourage you to share with others, because we have the potential of influencing others, and helping others get a hold of this information, as they may be too busy to find it!
The blogs that you find here now, contain information that can serve us as tools, to help us live a more fulfilling life, through the application of wisdom in our lives; I will be adding more blogs, so keep checking back periodically. The first two blogs are conferences that I share, that impacted me, having them in writing allows us to go over them, reread them, so that we may apply some of the suggestions and recommendations in our own day to day living. I hope it is as helpful to you as it has been for me.
I have also included in blogs 3, 4, and 5, the wisdom behind Kundalini Science: Mantra Yoga, Kundalini Yoga and Meditation, which are the practices that we do on our website in each of the 9 routines; this way you may know more in-depth knowledge behind what you are doing; I have chosen information from sources of well-known and respected authors and guides that have helped many people through sharing their wisdom around the world. There is one special person that we owe thanks to, for having access to these Kundalini practices, and that is Yogi Bhajan who is dear and close at heart, to many of his students. Yogi Bhajan dedicated his life to sharing this sacred wisdom through teaching it in America and more importantly, he aimed at training students to become teachers of this wisdom so that they could also teach and share this knowledge with others; he had a vision that people in the West needed to know this, so they could live life from a higher consciousness, and that way they could overcome their suffering and find healing, peace and happiness. Many of these teachers are the authors of the books I share in these blogs. I hope this knowledge motivates you and that it will be useful to you. I hope you enjoy it very much.
I. Blog 1: Making the Mind-Brain Connection Conference: from the book the Super Brain by Dr. Rudolph Tanzi and Dr. Deepak Chopra
II. Blog 2: Mind over Medicine: Heal Yourself Conference: from the book by Dr. Lissa Rankin
III. Blog 3: Kundalini Science: Mantra Yoga
IV. Blog 4: Kundalini Science: Kundalini Yoga
V. Blog 5: The Practice of Meditation and Meditation in Kundalini Yoga
Blog 1: Thursday, December 26th, 2013
I. Making the Mind-Brain Connection Conference by Dr. Rudolph Tanzi: from the book the Super Brain by Dr. Deepak Chopra and Dr. Rudolph Tanzi
This conference, The Super Brain by Dr. Rudolph Tanzi, was shown on PBS Television on December 10th of 2012.
Dr. Rudy Tanzi is professor of Neurology at Harvard University and Director of the Genetics and Aging Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Dr. Deepak Chopra is the co-author of Super Brain. He has worked in Internal Medicine and Endocrinology and for the last 25 years has been working on mind and body connection and how it relates to your physical, mental and spiritual well being.
Dr. Tanzi says that we need to become masters of our brains. He says we need to balance the three major parts of the brain so we may be in perfect harmony and balance.
Dr. Tanzi emphasizes as he told the audience, “You are not your brain, your brain serves you and you should not be serving the brain; you are a user of your brain!”
“Based on Dr. Tanzi’s research on neuroscience, he gives us a roadmap on how to unlock the hidden powers of our brain.
Reasons for which you want a super brain:
- -you become better at resolving everyday problems
- -you will make better decisions with more intuition
- -losing weight becomes easier
- -you will have less stress
- -relationships improve
- -it reduces the chances of having Alzheimer’s disease
The brain has three major parts:
The Reptilian brain, the Limbic system, or the emotional part of the brain, and the Neocortex brain or the intellectual brain
The Reptilian brain
- -The reptilian brain showed up more than 300 million years ago on a little lizard.
- -It is the instinctive part of the brain.
- -The instinctive brain serves all of our basic survival needs.
- -It has three main functions: feeding, fighting, fleeting, and reproduction.
The Limbic Brain
- -The limbic brain showed up more than 100 million years ago.
- -It is the emotional part of the brain.
- -It controls emotions and short-term memory.
When you feel connected and you have positive experiences and good relationships, this part of the brain feels in balance, this part of the brain is good to you and life is good, you feel joy and peace.
If instead there is resentment, guilt, shame, sadness, and hostility, the opposite is true, you feel out of balance, and this part of the brain is not good to us and life just is no good.
- -This is the intellectual part of the brain.
- -It is more than 4 million years old.
- -You are using this part of the brain right now to understand this conference.
- -It allows us to have long-term memory.
- -It allows us to plan and predict things.
- -It allows us to be reasonable and rational.
- -It gives us free will and allows us to make free choices and decisions.
- -Your intellectual brain helps you to rationally deal with fears and desires produced in your emotional brain.
The reptilian part of the brain can’t make decisions. It can’t be helped, the reptilian part of the brain can only ‘fly or fight’. You need the intellectual brain to make decisions.
When all three parts of the brain are in balance working in harmony, the greatest achievements are possible; the works of Shakespeare, Mozart, Einstein, and Galileo are examples of men who had developed super brains.
Dr. Tanzi will show us how to get a super brain. Dr. Tanzi says, “I will show you how to bring maximum health benefits to your life by regulating each of the three parts of the brain”.
Regulating the reptilian brain
“Your reptilian brain is needed for survival but it can get you into trouble. It has to be kept in check and not let it get out of hand when you use it, unless your survival is threatened.
You can neutralize fears, desires and aggressive feelings that arise in your mind with positive feelings by thinking about something special like a sunset, a puppy, or anything that gives you a good feeling and this works as a regulating mechanism.
You can also use the STOP METHOD as a regulating mechanism. For example if you are driving and someone yells and honks, instead of reacting you can use the STOP METHOD.
S= STOP, HOLD AND WAIT
T= TAKE 3 DEEP BREATHS
O= OBSERVE WHAT IS HAPPENING INSIDE YOU
P= PROCEED WITH AWARENESS AND KINDNESS
If the reptilian brain tries to stress you out and get the better of you, you’ll be able to use STOP. Use every time you feel upset or anxious. The key is to start doing, ‘STOP’, every time and get into the habit of doing it all the time. It might take some time to reprogram the brain but eventually the brain will start doing this ‘STOP’ process automatically. The brain needs a little training at first until it begins to do it naturally.
It is important to understand that” nerve cells that fire together, wire together”. Repetition will make this wiring start and transform and make all the changes you want to make, and then you will be on the way to a super brain. So instead of letting the reptilian brain use you, you use it when needed.
The Limbic Brain
-controls emotions and short-term memory
-it stores the ‘hippocampus’ (looks like a seahorse)
Short-term memory is reinforced by emotions. The stronger the emotion with some event, the more chances we can remember it better. We learn best when there is passion for what we are learning.
During ‘nine-eleven’ you remember everything, even where you were; you most likely also remember your first kiss; but you probably don’t remember the first congressman you voted for.
To improve memory, be more aware and care more about what is going on around you. For example, for children every single second of their day is incredible, they are always happy.
In order to use the limbic brain to its maximum benefit, ask yourselves two things:
“What am I feeling now?” And, “Is this feeling good for me?”
If it is not, then it is not good, that simple. At this moment focus on something that makes you feel good; for example recall an experience that makes you feel joy, harmony, or love; you may recall your puppy, the last family vacation, or the birth of your baby.
As a result, your brain starts to release neurochemicals, like oxitocin, dopamine, serotonin and endorphins. These chemicals instantly make you feel better. It is neurochemistry. These are the molecules of emotion and as they get released by your brain, just because you are thinking about something really nice, they will also serve to improve your health. These chemicals have been shown to improve the immune system.
There is a whole part of neuron-immunology science that studies how your emotional wellbeing can work to enhance your immunity against getting sick. The more positive you are, the more your brain will release these beneficial neuron-chemicals.
The Neocortex- the intellectual brain
The intellectual brain allows you to reason, and plan. Most importantly it provides us with imagination and choice; it allows us to apply meaning to everything. This is a very special thing about being human, is being able to apply meaning to our lives.
Take time whenever you can to reflect on the meaning and purpose of your life. Ask yourself, “Why am I here?” This question triggers creativity and imagination and it activates the intellectual brain.
If you keep asking, “Why am I here?”- answers will come naturally and instinctively.
Question: How can we train ourselves to be more intuitive and aware?
By balancing the 3 major parts of the brain, you become more intuitive. Regulating these brain regions will keep the brain young. It is important to learn how to monitor the 3 major parts of the brain and use them all, integrating them in a balanced manner. Once they are harmonious, you’ll find you have a healthier and happier life.
Science is there to back this up. I work with 50 to 60 researchers and we write more than 2,000 papers a year. We have found out that the balanced and harmonious brain is a technology that can be used to make positive changes in your life.
You are much more than your feelings and thoughts!
Many people let one area of the brain dominate their lives. For example the person that overeats is dominated by the reptilian brain. The ‘drama queen/king’ is dominated by the emotional brain. The intellectual person that shows little compassion and is unfriendly is dominated by the intellectual brain.
You don’t want to get stuck in one area of the brain; get proactive in mastering ‘mind over brain’ and start making conscious choices that promote physical, spiritual, and mental well-being.
Here is an example of a brain dialogue that is balanced:
Reptilian brain: I could eat four pieces of pizza!
Emotional brain: Sure smells good.
Intellectual brain: It is good but I just need one piece of pizza. It is no good if I eat too much.
Reptilian: Okay, make it a big one (piece).
A new idea and concept is ‘contemplative neuroscience’, also called ‘mindfulness’. It is the act of paying attention in a totally neutral manner, devoid of judgment, analysis and calculation.
Multi-tasking is not possible. The brain should do only one thing at a time.
There are four areas in which to be mindfully aware: sensory awareness, body awareness, mental awareness and social awareness.
1. Sensory Awareness
To practice mindful awareness with each of the senses imagine the following: a sunset, hearing the crying of a baby, the smelling of popcorn, the licking of a lemon, and touching the rough surface of sandpaper.
- When you were imagining a sunset, the visual cortex of the brain was activated; it was turned on as if you were really seeing the sunset.
- When you were imagining hearing the crying of a baby, your auditory cortex was activated as if you were really hearing a baby cry.
- When you were imagining the smell of popcorn, the olfactory cortex was activated as if you really smelled popcorn.
- When you imagined the licking of the lemon, the taste cortex was activated and it was as if you really did lick the lemon and you may even have started salivating.
What did you just do? You just became the user of your brain. This means that you can turn on any brain region you want!
You even changed the chemistry, the wiring of nerve cells, the gene activity, into these brain regions as you turned them on with this ‘contemplative, mindfulness awareness’ exercise.
*This is the path to a Super Brain. You have the power to change your own brain!
When you sit to a meal, take the time and pay more attention to the smell, the taste, the colors, and the texture of the food you eat and drink. As you do, you’ll enjoy it more, and most importantly, the hunger center in the brain that tells you when you are still hungry will be satisfied earlier and you will be fuller with less food.
With this ‘mindful eating’, you will actually lose weight.
2. Body Awareness
There are two areas to be mindfully aware of, when it comes to the body:
-One area of the body to be aware of is the ‘muscular skeletal system’ including legs and arms
- Ask yourself: “Do I feel lethargic, heavy, light, or energetic?” Be in touch with how your body feels.
-The second area to be aware of the ‘internal organs’.
- Be mindful of the stomach, and feel whether it is empty or full.
- Be mindful of your breathing; see if it is slow, fast, deep or shallow.
- Be mindful of your heart, is the heart rate, slow, fast, irregular…
With this mindful body awareness, you will activate the parts of the brain that control these parts of the body and since you are being mindful and showing tender love and care, paying attention to them, you will have your brain take care of your body in a better and healthier way.
We also start to automatically make decisions intuitively about our bodies’ needs. For example you will make sure you get enough sleep when your body says it needs it, you will not eat when you are not hungry. You will start listening more closely to your body and be able to satisfy its needs more instinctively.
3. Mental Awareness Mindfulness
- You need to be careful to observe whenever you can of the thoughts and feelings going through your mind and generated by the brain all the time.
- Appreciate the fact that you are not simply the sum of your thoughts and feelings; you are much more than that.
- The real you is the one that is able to observe your thoughts and feelings: the witness.
- Self-awareness allows you to observe thoughts and feelings.
Your brain has evolved to endow you with self-awareness; it is a gift and you need to use it. Instead of mindlessly reacting to every situation, often with bad consequences, we will be able to make wise choices, ones that will best serve you.
4. Social Awareness Mindfulness
Need to be aware of those closest to us, like family and friends.
Then extend the same level of awareness to those we work with, and then to all others in society.
While you do this, try to apply the 3 A’s:
- 1. Attention: really listen to what others have to say.
- 2. Appreciation: mention something you feel good about that somebody did.
- 3. Affection: let them know you care about them, even a co-worker or even someone you don’t know very well.
If you do this you will become more connected to your world and your emotional brain will reward you with feelings of peace, joy and happiness. The result is that you will enjoy better mental and physical health.
You will reap the benefits as you gain mastery. You will be less argumentative. You will shed bad habits, addictive tendencies, and you will sleep better. You will have a healthier brain, and you will feel more in charge of your life and enjoy making better choices.
Contemplation and mindful awareness will help transform your life from being reactive to being creative, imaginative and intuitive. You will manifest the greatest gifts provided by your brain, insight, intuition, choice and creativity.
HOW TO KEEP YOUR BRAIN YOUNG
Use the brain to the highest potential, the intuition is heightened and you will have hunches about everything, business, relationships, and decisions.
Keeping the brain healthy and young will help avoid Alzheimer’s and dementia and other memory and age related problems.
One mindful awareness method to follow is C.A.R.E.
Many times when people forget things, it has to do with the fact that they don’t register the thought of what was intended.
Example: I was working on the computer and I thought, “I am thirsty, need a drink”. I was at the same time watching a baseball game. So I got up and went to the kitchen but I forgot why I was there. I figured that I had not registered the thought of what I needed. So the thought, “I need a drink” did not reach short-term memory.
Follow C.A.R.E. to make sure you register the thought’s intention:
C= consciously observe what you are doing
A= Associate it with an image or an emotion
RE= Remind yourself to register the memory
Example: Where you put the keys and remembering later on.
- C= Observe where you put the keys
- A= Associate the place with an image that is nearby
- RE= Remind yourself to register the thought
New brain cells are born everyday till you die, it is called Neurogenesis
Brain cells get born in 2 key spot and one main one is the hippocampus (in Alzheimer’s, the hippocampus is what gets hit hard).
What is the hippocampus? It is the region of the fore-brain that plays a role in emotions, the ability to remember, and the ability to compare sensory information to expectations.
What are synapses? Synapses are connections among neurons, usually between the dendrite of one neuron and the axon of another neuron, or between the dendrites of one neuron and the cell body of a second neuron. At the synapse there is a gap between neurons which can be bridged by chemicals called neurotransmitters.
Running and exercise can be beneficial for the health of the brain. What does running in place do for your brain?
- -it induces growth of new nerve cells in your brain
- - it clears away some of the pathology of Alzheimer’s called ‘senile plaques’.
So exercise is one of the best ways to protect the brain from Alzheimer’s disease.
The brain has another trick up its sleeve for staying healthy; it is called ‘Neuroplasticity’.
When the brain gets injured, it can regenerate and heal itself. The brain possesses amazing healing powers.
With Neuroplasticity the mind reshapes matter such as your thoughts, triggering new neural growth and rewiring your brain.
When your brain is injured with a stroke or a head bang and the nerve cells start to die, the nerve cells next door, start to sprout new nerve endings as if saying “Don’t worry we have you covered”, and make synapses to recapture the ones that were lost. It actually rebuilds your neural networks, even retaining the memories that may have been lost. This goes on even when you’re old, just have to allow it to happen.
So how can we induce ‘neuroplasticity’?
You are doing it right now watching this, and learning something new.
- -it is important to stay socially interactive and engaged
- -it is important to stay intellectually stimulated.
When you learn new things, you make new synapses. All learning is based on association; you associate what you are learning, and build on what you already know.
Synapses are connections among neurons, usually between the dendrite of one neuron and the axon of another neuron, or between the dendrites of one neuron and the cell body of a second neuron. At the synapse there is a gap between neurons which can be bridged by chemicals called neurotransmitters.
So you make new synapses and you strengthen synapses you already have. If you look at what happens in Alzheimer’s disease and ask “What is the percentage of Dementia in Alzheimer’s, you can correlate it with the loss of synapses. So the more synapses you can make when you are intellectually stimulated, the more you can afford to lose, it’s like having money in the bank. Having a few more synapses can back up what is lost.
Alzheimer’s is a disease that robs you of yourself. It does this by unraveling the entire tapestry of your entire memories of who you are; your entire self is ripped away from you.
Loss of memory in Alzheimer’s is caused by the persistent loss of synapses and breakdown of the neural network.
It would be important to adapt our lifestyle to help prevent Alzheimer’s and other diseases.
- -Eat a balanced diet; a Mediterranean diet is recommended, olive oil, nuts, vegetables, whole grains, dark chocolate, antioxidants, ashaganda (from an ayurvedic diet)
- -limit sugars, salt, fat, processed foods, and red meats
- -reduce stress, do meditation, and yoga
- -stay busy, do new activities, learn new things, keep yourself intellectually stimulated, volunteer to help others
- -get plenty of sleep, 8 hours per night is recommended
It is only in the deepest stage of sleep called “slow wave sleep” (delta state) that all those short-term memories in the hippocampus, turn into long-term memories in the frontal cortex. As people get older, some have such strong sleep problems that we never reach the deepest level of sleep. It would be important to get 8 hours of sleep per night to ensure the protective effects of “slow wave” (delta state) sleep.
Meditation induces the ‘delta state’. Yoga is also good for the brain and body”.
This is the path to a Super Brain. You have the power to change your own brain! If you follow some of these tips, you will have a harmonious and balanced mind-brain connection and your life will reflect this harmony and balance.
Blog 2: Monday, December 30, 2013
This is from the conference, Mind Over Medicine: Heal Yourself by Dr. Lissa Rankin’s (MD)
The Mind Over Medicine conference was presented on PBS, December 1, 2013.
Dr. Lissa Rankin is New York Times best selling author of the book, ‘Mind over Medicine, Scientific Proof that you can heal yourself’, and is also the founder of the Whole Health Medicine Institute.
Mind Over Medicine Conference
“Research shows that your brain has tremendous power over your health.
The scientific data proofs that your thoughts, beliefs and feelings affect the physiology of your body more profoundly than you may realize.
Dr. Rankin teaches scientific proven techniques to train your mind to heal your body.
You will learn to cultivate a brain that promotes healing. You will learn to diagnose, write a prescription and optimize your chance of being cured of any health condition that may plague you, for yourself.
You will learn to enhance your opportunity for alleviating chronic conditions and prevent long-term illness.
Dr Rankin explains, “As a doctor I always thought that to be healthy, you simply had to eat well, exercise, get enough sleep, take your vitamins, and follow doctor’s orders. But after 12 years of education and 10 years of medical practice, I took a job in an integrative medicine practice in Marin County, near San Francisco where most of my patients were health nuts, doing everything right, and some of them were sicker than ever. I was baffled, these folks drank their daily green juice, they had a great diet, they worked out with personal trainers, took their vitamins, saw the best doctors, and they optimized what Western medicine had to offer. And they were still ill. From everything I learned in medical school, these people should have been in perfect health. Many of my patients felt tired, they were not sleeping well, their libido went down the tubes, they gained weight, they lost their mojo…”
Dr. Rankins felt there was something missing in the health care puzzle. She decided to do something radical, she changed her intake form and had the patients answer the following questions:
- If you could break any rule without consequences, what rule would you break?
- Are you in a romantic relationship and are you happy?
- Do you feel you are in touch with your life purpose?
- Do you feel stressed about money?
- Do you feel spiritually connected?
- What is the message of your health condition to yourself, and what would it say?
- What does your body need to heal?
“I thought my patients would answer this last question by saying, ‘I should change supplements, or I should take X vitamin,” but this was not what they said. They said, things like, “I need to leave my toxic relationship”, “It’s time to quit my job”, “I need to finally forgive my father”, “I need to write my novel”.
So I said to them, “You just wrote your own prescription, go do it!” Most of them would say, “I can’t do that, that would be crazy!” “But a few of my patients got really brave and did exactly what they had prescribed for themselves and they started experiencing these unexpected remissions. All of sudden their health conditions were going away without medical treatment.
Dr. Rankin will show how to prevent illness even if in good health at the present time. She will share tools that will have immediate effect on your health and you will learn how to implement these right away so you can get results.
Ask yourself the question: “What does my body need in order to heal?
Even if you are not sick, what does your body need to be optimally healthy?
“My own practice, and the deep medical research I did for my book, “Mind over Medicine, Scientific Proof that you can heal yourself”, offers solid proof.”
The brain is the garden of your thoughts. You may be neglecting it. You are going to learn how to cultivate a brain that creates healing. The song, “Don’t worry, be happy” is a very smart prescription.
Whether you have an illness or not, you need to think that your body is your business. Many people put their bodies in the hands of the doctor like when you take the car to get fixed. You are responsible for your body. The reality is that you know your own body more than any doctor. You have more power over the outcome of your health than you may realize.
Stamatus Romadus, was a patient that was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and was told he had 9 months to live. He decided to save his money and decline aggressive treatment. He and his wife, decided to move back to his hometown island in Greece. He wanted to be buried with his ancestors in a grave overlooking the Aegean Sea. He moved into a small house with a viniard and was awaiting to die. He reconnected with his faith, he started going to the old church that he used to go to. His friends found out he was back in town and started to show up with bottles of wine, books and board games, and he figured, ‘if I’m going to die, I might as well die happy’, he even planted vegetables in a garden, not expecting that he would be around to harvest them, but he figured it would be nice if his wife could do so. So 9 months past and he didn’t die, and he was feeling better than ever. He actually got to harvest the vegetables and he started working in the vineyard…45 years later, Stamatus celebrated his 98th birthday. Twenty-five years after his diagnosis he went back to the USA to visit, and went to see his doctors to ask what happened to him, but his doctors had died already.
Stamatus could be you and you too could experience a sudden remission and your health condition may suddenly disappear. There is a scientific reason why Stamatus is very healthy at the age of 98.
Another story: Marla, a patient from Marin County. Dr. Rankin continues to tell the story, “…stereo-typical Marin county resident, she did everything right when it came to health, she was a vegetarian, she did yoga, she took supplements, she didn’t drink or smoke, but she still had debilitating chronic conditions…when I read her patient intake form, and probed into Marla’s personal life, I found out that Marla was in an abusive marriage, her husband did not support her passion for art, so she was not painting, she was exhausted from caring for her aging sick mother who lived in her home. I had this sense that Marla’s body was never going to get well until she healed these other aspects of her life…with all those negative emotions filling her mind, no vegetable, supplement, exercise program or drug was going to be strong enough to counteract the harmful health effects of chronic stress on her body. After sharing with Marla my thoughts about the real reason her body was suffering, I asked her the big question, “What does your body need in order to heal?” Marla said, “I need to move to Santa Fe.” I said, “Santa Fe, why Santa Fe?” Marla said, “ I don’t know, I have this vacation home in Santa Fe, and when I go there, all my symptoms disappear.” So I encouraged Marla to listen to her inner wisdom. She called me a year later, she had moved to Santa Fe, she moved her mother in a retirement community nearby, she had taken the risk to divorce her husband, she enrolled in art school, and she formed a new community of friends, mostly artists. All of her symptoms had magically disappeared within 3 months of her move.
Now, you don’t have to wait until you get a scary diagnosis to write a prescription for yourself, the way Marla and Stamatus did, you can make this a daily practice, starting now.
For the next 30 days I want you to ask yourself, “What does my body need in order to heal?” I want you to choose at least one thing everyday, that you can do, to doctor yourself. So you are going to learn some of these strategies about how to do this for yourself.
The scientific data proofs that your thoughts, beliefs and feeling affect the physiology of your body. Any negative thought you have is poison for your body. Every pessimistic thought, every negative health belief, every angry feeling, every time you feel lonely, or resentful, or depressed, if you are stressed at work, or unhappy in your marriage, you are potentially harming your body.
But if instead the opposite is the case, every time you think optimistically, or feel supported by a community of people, or you get in touch with your life’s purpose, or your spiritual self, you are actually healing your body.
This is a huge part of how you can be proactive about taking back your health.
However many patients experience something called, “learned helplessness”. They feel like helpless victims of bad luck or bad genes…in research this passive state has been proven to harm your health, while being proactive improves your chance of cure.
Strategy: How to be your gatekeeper of your mind so that your mind heals instead of harm your body.
You need to be proactive about your health and take responsibility for what you can do to make sure you are healthy. It is not enough to follow the perfect nutritious diet, take supplements, exercise, get enough sleep, and take advantage of what Western medicine has to offer, to stay healthy. But added to this, being proactive also entails, protecting your mind, it is important to be the gatekeeper and make sure you don’t self-sabotage with pessimistic and negative thoughts, beliefs, feelings that can predispose you to illness. It is your responsibility to fill your mind with the kind of positive thoughts that are good medicine for your body. You have some influence on whether your body is able to repair itself. Remission is possible.
You will learn the secret of how you can optimize your body’s chance for spontaneous remission
Considering the possibilities of remissions of an illness, it is important to understand that natural self-repair mechanisms function only during relaxation response.
When the body is in stress-response, the body’s natural self-repair mechanisms are disabled.
Stress response harms the body in many ways: repetitive stress responses impair cognitive performance, suppress thyroid function, lead to blood sugar imbalances, decrease bone density, weaken muscle tissue, raise blood pressure, and heart rate, lower you’re your immunity, and strain the heart.
Traditional health habits certainly matter, but perhaps even more important than exercising and eating well, is balancing the ratio of stress responses and relaxation responses in your body’s nervous system.
Fortunately increasing the number of relaxation responses that the body experiences can be easy and pleasurable.
You can learn how to activate the relaxation response any time of the day.
Scientifically proven relaxation response activators that you can use:
From Dr. Benson’s transcendental research, there is a technique based on meditation:
Either, close your eyes or keep them open, focus on the breathing and repeat a mantra on the exhale: for example, repeat on the exhale, “OM” or “peace”, or “love”. Breathe slowly and naturally, and as you do, assume a passive attitude on any thoughts that appear in your mind, and concentrate on the one word you repeat on the exhale. You would do this for 10 or 20 minutes, once a day. You can do it any time of the day and while doing any activity, housework, work, shopping and any other activity.
You can also do this meditation in silence. Some people meditate in front of an altar.
Some other activities you can do to activate the relaxation response is dancing, it is great relaxation for your nervous system.
- You can also pray.
- You can play with your pet.
- Try expressing yourself creatively, through writing, painting, music, singing, playing an instrument, dancing or many other ways.
- Try laughter.
- Try watching funny movies.
- Try Yoga, meditation, massage
- Try the healing act of generosity. Try giving the gift, of time to the needy.
Seeing a doctor that is compatible with your philosophy that is nurturing and caring is very important. Try interviewing your doctor to know this is the right doctor. The doctor should be empathetic and should believe in your capacity to heal, and believe you can get well; this has a positive effect on healing for the patient, and can work like a “placebo effect”. A doctor should be collaborative with other health providers as well.
You will learn how to proactively reduce the number of stress responses in the body.
You need to get to the root cause of the stress responses:
The body is the physical manifestation of the sum of your life’s experiences. Your inner “Pilot Light” is your inner doctor. It’s the outward reflection of your wild and precious inner light. The inner pilot light is the foundation. When anything is your life is out of balance, such as your financial stability, or your work is too stressful, or you are not connected spiritually, or your life has no purpose, or your relationship is toxic, this may trigger the stress response often during each day and you put at risk your health wellness.
Your Inner Light, or your foundation, knows what is right for you, it is your inner doctor. It will tell you what your body needs to heal. Learn to hear the voice of your inner wisdom. That is why your Inner Light is your foundation. Making healthy decisions about your life, your health and your body requires continually coming back to the question, “What is true for me? What is true for me about my relationship? What is true for me about my work?” You can always trust your Inner Pilot Light to guide you, to get back in touch with your Life Force, that is part of how you make your own diagnosis of what may be lying at the root of your illness.
But you may have problems hearing your Inner Voice inside you because you have a second voice”.
To be continued soon.
Tuesday, January 7, 2014
Mind Over Medicine Conference Continued.
We left off at:
Dr. Rankin discusses: “But you may have problems hearing your Inner Voice inside you because you have a second voice.
I call this voice the Gremlin. It is the voice of the “afraid cat”, the Amygdala. It is an important part of your brain.
The Amygdala is the brain structure that influences motivation, emotional control, fear responses, and interpretation of nonverbal, emotional expressions.
This other voice comes as a stress response from this part of the brain, the amygdala. This is a fear voice and sometimes it may speak truth, like when it is telling you to run from a tiger or when you move to avoid being hit by a car; but 99% of the time the RED ALERTS triggered by the Gremlin are unfounded. For a lot of people their Gremlin voice that triggers Stress Responses, may be so loud that it drowns out the voice of your Inner Pilot Light.
But when you practice hearing the voice of your Inner Pilot Light, you can begin to get clear about what it is going to take to help your body’s natural, self-repair mechanisms do their job.
To understand how this natural self-repair mechanism works, it is important to gain knowledge about the brain and how it can either heal or harm our bodies.
How can the brain heal or harm the body?
The brain is an organ that is critical to your health. And you may be neglecting your brain. Here is a little anatomy lesson about the brain that will help understand the brain connection to the Stress and Relaxation Responses that can either harm or heal the body. These responses are triggered in the brain and more precisely in the Amygdala.
OUR AMYGDALA AND STRESS
The Amygdala is an almond shaped part of our Primordial Limit Brain. The Amygdala’s job is to protect us from danger. While the amygdala lives in the brain, it is not the smart, rational thinking forebrain; it is the afraid cat, ancient lizard part of the brain. It is kind of like the Meerkats that are like prairie dogs and there is always the “sentry”, the one standing guard on top of the mound, to see if there’s threats on your safety, like maybe there may be a tiger on the loose.
Stress is anything that makes the amygdala in your brain feel threatened. That includes not just getting chased by a tiger. It also includes work stress, or money worries, struggles, feelings of fear, resentment, anger, sadness, loneliness, pessimism, hopelessness, and anxiety. The amygdala can’t tell the difference between “there is a tiger on the loose, or I am depressed, angry or anxious, or somebody just spilled red wine on the carpet.”
So when a doctor informs you of a bad prognosis, how do you think the amygdala reacts? “Danger, there is a tiger on the loose!” As far as the amygdala is concerned, they are all equal threats.
So stress relief is anything that comes down your amygdala, that makes you feel relaxed, peaceful, hopeful, optimistic, loved, and nurtured.
This is how thoughts, believes, and feelings, that originate in your mind affect the physiology of your body via the amygdala and how it affects the stress response.
So what does this have to do with healing the body? Well here is the thing, the body is beautifully equipped with natural, self-repair mechanisms, that can fight cancer cells, retard aging, and kill infectious agents, but the body’s natural, self-repair mechanisms are under the influence of the nervous system.
The nervous system has 2 operating systems. One operating system is the Synpathetic Nervous System or more known as Fight or Fight, or the Stress Response. The second operating system is the Parasympathetic Nervous System, or also called the Relaxation Response.
Here are some definitions:
Synpathetic Nervous System has the major purpose of mobilizing the action of fight-or-flight response. It is also continually active in maintaining homeostasis. Alongside the other components of the automatic nervous system, it aids in the control of most of the body’s internal organs and glands. Stress as in flight-or-fight or Stress Response is thought to counteract the parasympathetic system, which generally works to promote maintenance of the body at rest.
Parasympathetic Nervous System is responsible for stimulation of “rest-and-digest” or “feed and breed” activities that occur when the body is at rest, especially after eating; some of these activities include salivation, lacrimation, urination, digestion, defecation and sexual arousal.
The relationship the sympathetic and the parasympathetic divisions share is one that is complementary in nature. The sympathetic division is thought of as the “police responders” and the parasympathetic is the “court system”. The sympathetic division typically functions in actions requiring quick responses. The parasympathetic division functions with actions that do not require immediate reaction (Wikipedia, 2013).
So when the Amygdala feels threatened, it activates the Stress Response, triggering a whole cascade of stress hormones like cortisol and epinephrine or adrenaline, which are necessary if you are running away from a tiger. But over time these hormones poison the body.
Here are some definitions:
Cortisol is a hormone, released during the body’s response to stress, that increases blood glucose levels and suppresses the immune response.
Epinephrine or adrenaline is a substance that is both a hormone and a neurotransmitter. One place that it is produced is in the adrenal glands as part of the body’s response to stress. Among its effects is increased heart rate.
On the other hand positive thoughts, believes, and feelings activate the Relaxation Response which is the polar opposite of the Stress Response. When the Relaxation Response is elicited, stress hormones drop, and health inducing relaxation hormones like oxytocin, dopamine, and endorphins are released.
Here are some of these definitions:
Endorphins are biochemical substances produced by the body under conditions of stress or vigorous exercise that serve to alleviate pain.
Oxytocin is a powerful hormone. This hormone plays an important part in pair bonding. But in general when people hug or kiss the people they love, including their children, friends or pets, the levels of oxytocin increase and it acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain. This hormone is especially stimulated during sex, birth, breast feeding and many other ways.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, one of those chemicals that is responsible for transmitting signals in between the nerve cells (neurons) of the brain. When dopamine neurons become activated, they release dopamine. Some neurons become activated when something good happens, an example is sudden availability of food.
What are neurotransmitters? They are chemical substances found in the nervous system which communicate messages between neurons when released. The chemical message once picked up by the dendrites, the cell body or the axon of a neighboring neuron, is read by that cell as a message to either, “fire” or “stop firing”.
Here is the kicker, if you only hear one thing today, when your body is in stress response, the body’s natural self-repair mechanisms, are disabled. Natural self-repair mechanisms function only when your body is in relaxation response.
LONELINESS AS A RISK FACTOR FOR DEVELOPING ILLNESS
The Scientific data suggests that loneliness is a stronger risk factor for illness than smoking or failure to exercise. Alleviation of loneliness is preventive medicine. Those who are part of a community don’t have to navigate life alone, so alleviating loneliness and helping people manage overwhelm is medicine for the soul. When is the last time your doctor suggested that to you?
Dr. Rankin encourages people to consider their relationships and their connection to a community in their lives. She encourages us to ask our Inner Pilot Light, “What is true about my relationships?” Like Marla people can find their community of friends within the world they enjoy where their interests lie and where they may find a deeper connection because of common interests. Dr. Rankin mentions someone she knew that loved Guinea Pigs and she found a group of friends that also like Guinea pigs; she encourages that people get on the internet and find people who share their same interests.
One idea is looking up people with the same interests through “Meetup.com” which has even become international. This website has connected many people that enjoy the same activities and hobbies and they get together often, this may become our community of friends, friends that may share a deeper connection because of the interests they share in common.
Dr. Rankin encourages us to take time in a quiet place to put some thought, while asking our Inner Pilot Light:
- What is true about my relationships?
- What is true about my physical health?
- What is true about my spirituality?
- What is true about my work and life purpose?
- What is true about my environment?
- What is true about my mental health?
- What is true about my money situation?
And then ask yourself if your current situation is out of alignment with your truth.
If you identify anything you think may be triggering your current stress responses in your body, write it down; this is part of your diagnosis.
Then write your prescription by asking yourself, “What does my body need to heal?”
Some of your prescriptions may have to do with improving your diet, exercising more, but remember just as important are prescriptions like, “I have to find a community of friends, “I have to start marriage counseling”, or “I have to find a job which is my life-purpose”, or “I have to change doctors to one that believes in my healing”, “I am ready for a spiritual awakening”, or “I need to start a routine of relaxation exercises that help me manage stress and reduce stress responses”… etc.” Remember to take baby steps and call upon the Inner Pilot Light to overcome fear and gain courage to carry out your truths and live your life with purpose.
What is guaranteed if you do this personal work is that you will put your body into “relaxation response mode” most of the time; your natural repair mechanisms will be optimized and you can say to yourself honestly, “I did everything that I could!” You will be healed even if you are not cured.
Some may ask, “What guarantees this is going to heal me after I take so many risks to live my truths?”
Cure is defined as the elimination of disease, and healing is to become “whole”. To be healed is to return to “wholeness” and this can happen without being cured. But when you become whole, your self-repair mechanisms kick into action and cure actually becomes more likely.
Dr. Rankin emphasizes that there is no place or necessity to put blame, shame or guilt on people for their illnesses during their healing journey; these negative emotions only trigger more stress responses that just make it harder for the body to heal.
But what is important to become aware of in our healing journey is that our bodies are our business, and we have an opportunity to participate and contribute in our healing journey. We can be proactive and invite illness to be a wake-up call and a spiritual practice that leads you to enlightment.
At the end of the program, Dr. Rankin asked everyone to help her on her mission to help heal healthcare.
Dr. Rankin told everyone: “To close our time together, I would like to ask you to stand up and hold hands with each other, healing healthcare will take a village, and those of you who are on board with this are part of this village, I believe our healthcare system is badly broken because we have lost respect for the body’s ability to heal itself and we have forgotten the healing power of love, I think it is time to take back our health and our power, to unite in community and support of this shared vision, I know it seems hopeless to think that healthcare can reclaim its heart, but just like I believe there is no incurable illnesses, I believe there is no incurable systems. I believe we can rise up and open our minds, open our hearts, and bring the care back to healthcare. So just for a moment, let’s all have a moment of silence, and hold that intention.
Even as we connect with each other, in community, in this way, we fill our bodies with oxytocin and endorphins, and other healing hormones and we switch off our stress responses and flip on our relaxation responses. When we do this not only can we heal ourselves, I sincerely believe we can heal healthcare. It all starts with you; be the love you want to see in healthcare and miracles really can happen.
Be the love you want to see in health-care”.
Blog 3: Tuesday, February 24th, 2015
KUNDALINI SCIENCE: INCLUDES MANTRA, YOGA AND MEDITATION
Kundalini practices: words of wisdom, body movements and stillness, silence of the mind, all affect the vibratory energy around us, as well as affect our own individual energy flow and affect the collective vibratory energy flow in our planet…read on to find out about this ancient technology of keeping a balance and harmony of the mind, body, spirit and soul enables us to live more fully, to live more according to our own unique truth, more in the “here and now”, more energized, more focused, more joyful, more peaceful, more healthy…the benefits are many and all these are possible from using these practices or ancient technologies that enable these benefits when we reach higher states of consciousness and awareness. I have experienced these benefits in my life, one day at a time, for the past two years and I have seen, felt and continue to reap the positive effects it has had in my health and my emotions… I have been able to overcome many emotional blocks and found healing; I have never felt more energized, more focused, more funny, more living my truth and more in the ‘here and now’…. This is why I became very interested and started to learn more. I want to go ahead and share this information about how Kundalini mantra, yoga and meditation works. I will be providing the knowledge, quote, unquote, verbatim, of the research itself and hopefully it may inspire you to expand your knowledge further by reading the books that I share with you, as they are enlightening. Today, I will start with Mantra Yoga, what it is and how it works; and in later dates I will add the knowledge of Kundalini yoga and meditation. Enjoy!
WHAT IS MANTRA YOGA?
I found enlightening information about Mantra Yoga in the book called Kundalini Yoga: The Flow of Eternal Power (1996) by Shakti Kaur Khalsa, a Kundalini Teacher of more than 40 years, and as taught to her by Yogi Bhajan, the Teacher of this wisdom, that brought this knowledge to the West in the 60’s. Here is the knowledge that will help you understand the science of how this ancient technology works that has been used for thousands of years:
“The scientific use of sound to affect consciousness is called Mantra Yoga. Next to breathing, the use of Mantra is the most important aspect of the practice of Kundalini Yoga. “MAN” means mind. “TRA” means to tune the vibration (just as one tunes the strings of a guitar). Mantra is a sound current which tunes and controls mental vibration. It is the “directive psyche,” a word or words, combinations of syllables, which focus the mind. Such words have enormous power. Claims for mantra may seem like miracles, but mantras are actually formulas that work according to physical and metaphysical laws. “Repeating a mantra (aloud) restructures the patterns in the mind that allow experience. Silence makes you aware of the many experiences in the mind.”2
Good vibes: We live in a sea of energy. Energy vibrates. Everything in the manifest creation is vibrating. Even seemingly solid, inanimate objects are constantly vibrating. They are simply vibrating at a slower or lower frequency than animate objects. Some vibrations are audible; they are sounds we can hear with our ears. Thoughts are silent sounds, electromagnetic vibrations. The higher the frequency, the less dense and more etheric the quality of the vibrations we hear and speak, the more our own vibrational frequency is raised. Raising our own vibration brings us closer to experiencing and merging with the highest vibration of all, GOD, the original cause of the creativity of the Universe.
Our entire universe was built on sound, on vibration. Putting it poetically: God spoke, and the world came into being. Or, more precisely, God vibrated, and all the universes and worlds, solar systems, oceans, land, and sky, and the myriad of beings that inhabit them appeared.
There is a vibratory frequency that corresponds to everything in the Universe. By vibrating a particular combination of sounds, you tune into various levels of intelligence, or consciousness. Situations, people and events respond to the signals you send out. The vibratory frequency of a mantra draws to you whatever you are vibrating. You are like a magnet attracting vibrations to you by what you send out.
Chanting mantras, either silently or aloud, is a conscious method of controlling and directing your mind. Happiness or sorrow, joy or regret are vibratory frequencies in the mind. We can call them attitudes, or beliefs, but fundamentally, they are vibratory frequencies or thought waves. They determine the kind of program our mind “plays.” Which scenario we choose to hold on to becomes our vibration, defines how we feel and what we project to others. We can exercise our right to choose at any time.
When we chant a mantra we are choosing to invoke the positive power contained in those particular syllables. Whether it’s for prosperity, peace of mind, increasing intuition or any of the other multitude of possible benefits inherent in mantras, simply by chanting them we are setting vibrations into motion that shall have an effect. It doesn’t actually matter if we understand the meaning of the sounds or not.
We are creating with every word we speak, and even with every word we think. Words are like boomerangs, every vibration we send out shall come back to us sooner or later. We get what we tune in to.
Mantras are personal: The word ‘mantra’ means mental vibration to the infinite mind. It’s a direct connection between God and you. Mantra is personal. It affects us personally. Its vibrations are personal…”3 “The Conversation of the mind with the soul is the essence of mantra. Mantra means to project and protect the mind. It gives the mind direction…When language and rhythim blend to instill a thought at the deepest level, it is a powerful mantra. It is sacred speech. It is a special use of language.”4
The power of positive thinking works: In Yogic terms, positive thinking is the substitution of a positive thought wave in the mind for a negative one. Positive affirmation is a form of mantra. Positive words can heal, uplift, and inspire. The other side of the coin is that careless, unkind, negative words can hurt. Each word we think or say literally starts a creative process in the Universe.
Why don’t we chant in English: Sometimes we do. However, to achieve the greatest impact on our consciousness, we use mantras in Sanskrit and Gurbani, language based on the science of NAAD. These mantras are the most effective. Affirmations and mantras in English certainly have an effect on our minds and emotions, but the most profound changes in our consciousness take place on a much deeper level. The actual chemistry of the brain has to change for us to experience infinity.
The science of NAAD: “NAAD means harmony, a process through which the “Aad,” the Infinity, can be experienced. NAAD is the basic sound for all languages through all times. This sound comes from one common source called the sound current. It is the universal code behind language and therefore behind human communication. The science of NAAD works between the movement of the tongue in the mouth, through language, and chemicals in the brain. There is no nerve connecting system from one section of the brain to another. There is no wiring; instead there is a solution, neuro-transmission fluid. Different chemical liquids are secreted from all different parts of the brain. Messages are transmitted very fast from each part of the brain through the fluids which are called “NAD Namodam Rasaa.” Naad means communication, namodam means addressing and rasaa means juice…”6
Combination Lock: In addition to the vibrations set in motion, something else happens when you chant. This is really important. There are 84 meridian points, or pressure points in the roof of the mouth. Every time you speak you stimulate them with the tongue. By stimulating these pressure points on the upper palate in a particular sequence, using the right access code, you increase the secretion of the hypothalamus gland and actually bring about a change in the permutation and combination of your brain cells. You affect the chemistry of the brain. When giving instructions for chanting certain mantras, Yogi Bhajan has been specific in saying, “Use the tip of your tongue.” “You can feel the upper palate with the tongue and experience its different surfaces. There are two rows of meridian points on the upper palate and on the gum behind the upper teeth. The tongue stimulates those meridian points, and they in turn stimulate the hypothalamus which makes the pineal gland radiate. When the pineal gland radiates, it creates an pulsation in the pituitary gland. When the pituitary gland gives pulsation, the entire glandular system, secretes and a human being obtains bliss. This is the science.”7 It’s as if you have an electronic, computerized security system in your mouth. Punch in the right code on the upper palate and you gain entry to the brain and your inner chambers of higher consciousness! When we chant we are also using prana, the life force of the universe (atomic energy) to create a sound current. No wonder chanting is so powerful.
The two most important things in your body: The two most important things in your body are the upper palate, which is the base of the hypothalamus, and the tip of the tongue. Every word spoken by you is made with the palate and the tongue in combination with the hypothalamus, which controls the entire neurons of the brain. The tongue has a central nervous system controlling our total psyche…The central nervous system shushmana, is at the tip of the tongue. And your entire neuron section is up here under the hypothalamus where the stimulation of the eighty-four meridian points takes place. It’s decided by the permutation and combination.
Focus on communication: Did you ever analyze how much of what you say is encouraging, uplifting, and positive- and how much is not? Much of our ordinary, every day conversation is negative and self-negating. We barely notice the destructive nature of the words we use because the “put down” is so common in our society. Start listening to your words…remember you are “creating” whenever you speak. The old admonition to “think before you speak” is still good advice. It’s easier to do this when your nerves are under control. Nerves have to be very strong so you don’t automatically react to everything that happens the minute it happens, like a robot reacting to a button being pushed.”
(I will be adding some information about “enhancing strong nerves from the chapter, “Stress, Stamina, and Nerves of Steel,” from this same book).
Focus on Mantra: When painful, negative thoughts and feelings come out, let them go on by. Keep bringing your mind back to focus on the mantra you are chanting. And keep on chanting! This is substituting the positive waves in our mind. The high vibration of mantra, like a good detergent, dissolves the greasy, grimy, painful thought waves. It’s a process, Go through it. Supposing you’re just sitting and worrying, or you wake up with doubt or fear in your mind. “You can, by your free will, create the thought that ‘God is with me. God and me and me and God are One.’ To every thought that comes, if you meet it with this thought, you will be plus, not minus…Because you and God together will be meeting the thought, and you will win.”2 Choose an affirmation or mantra to use whenever you catch your mind in a negative mode. Use it so much it becomes “second nature” to you. Let that sound current carry away your worry or confusion, doubt or fear!
How you do Mantra: In the 9 Routines in our website, we are provided with video of mantra songs, that you may watch while you chant. The beautiful, peaceful videos contribute to our well-being, and healing. You should sit comfortably with your back straight. You would take a full breath and chant the mantra in each exhalation (unless it is too long); the inhalation should be deep, reaching the navel point, and the sound of the entire mantra should therefore come from this navel point during the exhalation (so you would chant, “ONG NAMO GURU DEV NAMO” entirely during one exhalation and then take another breath and continue repeating this mantra over and over during each exhalation). You repeat this process over and over during the duration of the mantra while you chant the mantra. Traditionally mantras may be done with your eyes closed while focusing on the “third eye” which is the point just above and in-between the eyebrows, located more or less in the center of the forehead.
Again remember as you chant or listen to mantra that, “These sounds of the words of a mantra produce a resounding vibrational frequency that helps liberate our mind of the influences of the propaganda, anxieties, unnecessary thinking, worries, fears and preoccupations that accumulate in the mind. It is considered a technology or a resource that works to protect our mind against the unproductive cycles of thinking and action. Apart from its vibrational benefits, mantras also help focus and calm the mind, as one concentrates in the repetition of the sounds, it facilitates that thoughts dissipate and fade away little by little until the mind is clear and calm” (Wikipedia, 2013).
I hope this has helped understand how mantra works and I hope you start using this technology as a tool in order to keep a balance of body, mind and spirit and to bring joy and peace into your lives. I will be adding more information about Kundalini Yoga and Meditation at a later date, so please check back periodically.
Blog 4: Saturday, February 28th, 2015
THE PRACTICE OF KUNDALINI YOGA
Hello everybody. I am ready now to add some information about Kundalini Yoga and its many benefits to our health. I have done this yoga now for more than 2 years and have experienced so many benefits. I have also practiced other types of Yoga in the past but it is Kundalini Yoga that I have found to be the most beneficial for my wellbeing: I feel that high vibration and optimism that you hear about and you only experience after doing one of these sets. In this high vibration, you begin to see what may have been a problem or issue under a different light, a different perspective, you don’t see only dead ends; you also become more humorous and take things more lightly. I enjoy life more now and with a routine of all these practices, I maintain a balance of mind, body and spirit. This is my own testimonial of the rewards I have received from these practices. This is the reason why I am doing this right now, informing, because I want people to know how effective it is.
WHAT DOES KUNDALINI YOGA DO?
From the book called Kundalini Yoga: The Flow of Eternal Power (1996), the author, Shakti Kaur Khalsa, informs that, “The practice of Kundalini Yoga balances the glandular system, strengthens the nervous system and enables us to harness the energy of the mind and the emotions, so we can be in control of ourselves, rather than being controlled by our thoughts and feelings…Kundalini Yoga is designed to give you “hands on” experience of your highest consciousness. It teaches you a method by which you can achieve the sacred purpose of your life. Kundalini Yoga is not a religion. Kundalini Yoga is a Sacred Science. It is scientific because it provides a technology, a method by which anyone who practices can experience that divine identity within.
INCREASED AWARENES AND INTEREST
From the book called, Kundalini Yoga: Unlock Your Inner Potential Through Life-Changing Exercise (2000) by Shakta Kaur Khalsa, Gurucharan Singh Khalsa Ph.D. shares that yoga “has become the practice of families and of “householders”- people involved in the usual challenges at work and in families… It was practiced and designed for people who wanted to be healthy, happy and holy while fully in the world –working, tending families, serving in the armies, running organizations and even participating in politics. It was designed to be fast and powerful to give you the strength and integrity to master your mind and deliver your values with integrity in your life. So the spread of yoga in every walk of life has brought the techniques of Kundalini to center stage…it does elevate your mind and your life…give you flexibility for a normal life…help you remove the common blocks to a fulfilled life.
HOW IT WORKS
From the same book, the author, Shakta Kaur Khalsa, explains, “In the physical body, kundalini resides in the spine. The two nerve channels that intertwine around the central nerve of the spinal column are called the Ida (the lunar; negative energy) and the Pingala (the solar; positive energy). Each of them makes two and one-half turns around the central column of the spine, called the shushmana, as they spiral upward from the base of the spine. The two channels act as main conductors of the kundalini energy, feeding the entire nervous system. Beside the kundalini energy that is already flowing within our bodies, there is a vast reservoir of untapped kundalini stored under the fourth vertebra of the spinal column.
Through the practice of Kundalini Yoga, this untapped energy is stimulated and allowed to rise up the central column of the spine until it reaches the top of the skull, activating the secretion of the pineal gland. This tiny gland (about the size of a grain of wheat in most people) and its function have long been a mystery to Western science. The yogis have known its importance for thousands of years. One of the major functions of the pineal gland is to vibrate and control the nucleus projection of every cell of the body.
All biological consciousness is chemical in nature-it is controlled by the secretion of chemicals in the brain. When we directly raise the kundalini it causes the activation of these chemicals, and a major change in consciousness is experienced. It may be subtle and gradual. It may be spectacular. Through the consistent practice of Kundalini Yoga, change happens.
This is yoga for everyday life, and every person. You are not required to be in perfect physical shape or believe anything in particular. Kundalini Yoga works for you if you can breathe and move your body. The gift of Kundalini Yoga is that you experience it. No words can replace that experience. Your experience goes right to your heart, your core. These ancient teachings are designed to give you “hands on” experience of your highest consciousness. By approaching Kundalini Yoga with openness and respect, and by following the steps included in this book, you can change your life.”
A SIMPLE BUT EFFECTIVE DAILY EXERCISE SET
From the book called Yoga for Real Life (2010), Maya Fiennes shares that Kundalini yoga are easy stretches and exercises “that can be slipped into your day with minimum fuss. Nothing is outside the capabilities of even the most sedentary and inexperienced. Kundalini yoga is not about contortion and muscle strain; it’s about simple, repetitive moves that gently build stamina, though none of these postures should be considered a mere gymnastic exercise. They are less about the perfectly toned, high maintenance muscular body, and more about the energized and awakened mind.
You might want to try doing these exercises when you get up in the morning, to loosen your spine and wake up your energy for the day ahead. They will increase the circulation of the spinal fluid, release toxins, and stimulate the twenty-four vertebrae in your spine, increasing your flexibility.
In Kundalini Yoga, we almost always inhale and exhale through the nose, keeping the mouth and eyes closed. This encourages a meditative state of mind from which you will achieve a deeper experience of your inner world. Maintain focus on your third eye –the point between, and just above your eyebrows –throughout…
Some of you may find it hard doing the more challenging poses…there is no hurry: progress at your own pace. Yoga is not about competition, and it’s not about hurting ourselves. You know your body best so be gentle and go slowly at the beginning. Follow the instructions and do as much as you can. Remember that relaxing and staying focused are far more important than pushing your body somewhere it’s not yet ready to go. You may not be able to do the full position at first. That’s fine. You will still get rewards from doing it.
Yogi Bhajan was fond of saying that even if you just lean slightly in the right direction, you’ll get some benefit! If the instructions tell you to touch your toes and you can barely get your hands to your knees, don’t worry. Maybe next time your fingers will reach a little further down. And if you persevere, in a week, a month, or a year you may be bending there easily, but you’ll reap the benefits whatever. Just trust the process, enjoy it and believe that you will progress more every day…In some exercises I’ll encourage you to push yourself, to put up with tiredness or aching arms for a few more seconds more to get the full benefit of a pose. But if you feel any sharp pain or discomfort, please stop. Don’t push too hard. Keep reminding yourself that yoga should be fun and enjoyable. It’s not supposed to hurt! ”
Maya also shares her experience with Kundalini Yoga, “we’re all looking for more power and energy in our lives, whether we are getting it from food, caffeinated drinks, or taking drugs to enhance our senses momentarily. Kundalini Yoga gives me a pure form of energy that seems to radiate from the core connecting my heart, mind and physical being…Practicing Kundalini Yoga can produce powerful and dramatic results very quickly. It lifts your energy levels to new peaks, aligning your whole being until you become more awake, aware and vibrantly healthy. A Kundalini yoga session can leave you feeling fighting fit, ready and able to tackle everyday challenges with new zest. Even if you just do one of the exercises…you will feel some benefit. Do it everyday and you will quickly start to notice real changes.”
You will find Kundalini Yoga routines by Maya Fiennes in each of the 9 Routines of our website. Her book and her routines are very informative. Her videos I have included in this website, explain the benefit of each exercise; the other yoga videos are also excellent and also explain the benefits of each exercise. I’m sure you will really enjoy them and gain all of these benefits for your health, that everyone that experiences this yoga, seems to rave about. Again if you are interested in learning more, I encourage to read the books, but most of all, Kundalini yoga is something you need to experience by doing it. It is easy and accessible to anyone, even if you have physical limitations; it is a practice that can also be done anywhere, if even one or two exercises for a few minutes, can bring you back to a relaxed and peaceful place.
Soon I will be adding some information about meditation, so please check back soon.
Best wishes and Namaste!
Blog 5: Wednesday, March 25th, 2015
THE PRACTICE OF MEDITATION
The Scientific Proof of its Health Benefits: The following information about meditation I will be sharing with you is from Dr. Rankin’s book: Mind over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself (2013), chapter 5: “How to counter the stress response”. I wanted to start discussing meditation through exposing some of the evidence of the research that has been done to proof that meditation works, as it is explained in Dr. Rankin’s fascinating book. Proof that meditation does the body, mind and spirit nothing but positive things and it brings about many health benefits, as well as it can work to prevent illness, through helping us manage the stress of our everyday lives. I will share the story of Dr. Benson, a cardiologist, one of the pioneers in the research of meditation (Rankin, 2013).
Dr. Rankin informs that, “meditation is a critical technique for countering the effects of chronic stress in your life and in your body… when we are stressed out, we crave relaxation. But too often we go about it the wrong way, seeking out unhealthy forms of stress relief like alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drugs, which only exacerbate the problem. There are, however, healthy ways to elicit the relaxation response-such as meditation-that are the best medicine we can take for treatment of life’s stresses.”
This is what the research has found as described by Dr. Lissa Rankin (2013): “All forms of meditation, to some degree, activate the parasympathetic nervous system, decrease stress-related cortisol, reduce respiration and heart rate, reduce the metabolic rate, increase blood flow in the brain, increase activity in the left prefrontal cortex (which is observed in happier people), strengthen the immune system, and lead to a state of relaxation. 3
Meditation also reduces pain, work stress, anxiety, and depression, promotes cardiovascular health, improves cognitive function, lowers blood pressure, reduces alcohol abuse, improves longevity, promotes healthy weight, reduces tension headaches, relieves asthma, controls blood sugar in diabetic patients, alleviates PMS, reduces chronic pain, improves immune function, and raises quality of life. 4”
A researcher that dedicated his life to the study of the effects of meditation is Harvard cardiologist Dr. Herbert Benson, who’s curiosity about the possibility of a link between stress and high blood pressure led him on a path of investigation of what triggers the stress response and what elicits the relaxation response, as he would later on term these responses (you may go over this in more detail, in blog 2: Rankin’s Mind over Medicine Conference Notes). Dr. Benson would eventually join researcher, Robert Keith Wallace in his investigation of Transcendental Meditation that he was doing for his doctoral dissertation at the University of California, Irvine. Rankin (2013) discusses their experience with their studies of the effects of the practice of meditation, “Once they compiled the data, they were shocked…Striking physiologic changes accompanied meditation-sharp drops: in heart rate, respiratory rate, and metabolic rate…the study group that meditated had had significantly lower baseline blood pressures than those who didn’t…Benson named the physiological changes that meditating people experienced “the relaxation response.” He argued that, like the stress response triggered when a part of the hypothalamus is stimulated, the relaxation response is triggered when a different part of the hypothalamus is stimulated, as a safeguard intended to counterbalance the emergency alarm the body sometimes sounds.”
Dr. Benson was very fascinated with the health benefits from people practicing a 10 to 20 minute meditation a day. He became interested in finding out more about what could be achieved from a more profound practice of meditation. Through his continuous studies about meditation he was able to enhance his research by adding that one can bring about physiological changes in the body through visualization during the meditative state (Rankin, 2013).
Rankin informs that Benson, through befriending the Dalai Lama, was able to find out more about meditation through spending some time with the Monks in the Himalayas, “Benson witnessed the monks dressed in nothing but loincloths, wrapping themselves in wet sheets in freezing temperatures at 15, 000 feet in the Himalayas. But instead of shivering, dropping their body temperatures, and possibly dying, the monks visualized fires in their bellies, raising their body temperatures enough to dry the wet sheets.
Benson realized that the fertile breeding ground of the relaxation response might be harnessed …in the mind by visualizing an outcome you wish to achieve- such as raising your body temperature, lowering your blood pressure, fighting your cancer, or alleviating back pain. He went on to study processes like these throughout his extensive career as a researcher. Over the years, Benson studied thousands of patients and published scores of articles in scholarly journals. Through this research he elicited a list of the conditions that respond to the relaxation response…he clearly proved efficacy in treating angina pectoris, cardiac arrhythmias, allergic skin reactions, anxiety, mild to moderate depression, bronchial asthma, herpes simplex, cough, constipation, diabetes mellitus, duodenal ulcers, dizziness, fatigue, hypertension, infertility, insomnia, nausea and vomiting during pregnancy, nervousness, post-operative swelling, premenstrual syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, side effects of cancer, side effects of AIDS, and all forms of pain-backaches, headaches, abdominal pain, muscle pain, joint aches, postoperative pain, neck, arm and leg pain” (Rankin, 2013).
Rankin continues discussing, “In his 1975 book, The Relaxation Response, Benson announced that he had discovered a counterbalance to the fight-or-flight response Cannon had described decades earlier. Just as the body has a natural survival mechanism built in to help you run away from a wild animal, the body also has an inducible, physiologic state of quietude, which allows the body to repair damage done by the fight-or-flight response…Benson’s continued research found that regular elicitation of the relaxation response could prevent and compensate for the damaging effects of stress on the body, preventing disease and sometimes treating it.
Benson wanted to know if the same response could be elicited in other activities besides meditation… and found four essential components that could reliably elicit the relaxation response: 1) a quiet environment; 2) a mental device, such as a repeated phrase, word, sound, or prayer; 3) a passive, nonjudgmental attitude; and 4) a comfortable position…later he discovered that only the mental device and passive attitude were necessary. A runner with a mantra and a passive attitude could be jogging down a busy street and elicit the relaxation response. The same was true for those doing yoga, or qigong, walking, swimming, knitting, rowing, sitting, standing, or singing. As he continued a lifetime of research, Benson found that the majority of medical problems were either caused by or exacerbated by the chronic effects of the stress response on the body. Other studies showed that over 60 percent of doctor visits could be attributed to the stress response.1” (Ranking, 2013).
Dr. Rankin informs, “When the relaxation response is induced, the parasympathetic nervous system is in the driver’s seat…It’s the parasympathetic nervous system that quiets the mind, relaxes the body, and fosters a sense of tranquility. Parasympathetic nervous system activation is the chill-out state of the mind and body. ONLY IN THIS RELAXED STATE CAN THE BODY’S NATURAL SELF-REPAIR MECHANISMS GO ABOUT THE BUSINESS OF REPAIRING WHAT GETS OUT OF WHACK IN THE BODY, the way the body is designed…The relaxation response also improves mood. It’s hard to feel anxious or depressed when the parasympathetic nervous system is in charge. The relaxation response may even alter how your genes are expressed, acting like a Band-aid for the stressed-out body and reducing the cellular damage of chronic stress.7”
In the book, Super Brain: Unleashing the Explosive Power of Your Mind to Maximize Health, Happiness, and Spiritual Well-being, Part 3, “The Enlightened Brain,” Dr. Deepak Chopra and Dr. Rudolph Tanzi (2012) discuss that meditation can be one of the tools that helps us live life more mindfully, “When you close your eyes and go inward, even for a few minutes, your brain gets a chance to reset itself. You have no need to try to become centered. The brain is designed to return to a balanced, unexcited state when given the chance. At the same time, when you meditate, a change occurs in your sense of self. Instead of identifying with moods, feelings, and sensations, you put your attention on quietness, and as soon as this happens, the stress that was agitating you is no longer as sticky. When you stop identifying with it, stress has a much harder time taking hold…the advantages of mindfulness: You can handle stress better, you free yourself from negative reactions, impulse control becomes easier, you open a space for making better choices, you can take responsibility for your emotions instead of blaming others, and you can live from a place that is more centered and calm.”
In both of these books the authors make a few recommendations we can use when we meditate, here are a few that I feel are important:
- Choose a quiet place to meditate, with dim lights
- Either sit comfortably with your back as straight as possible, or you may lay down, also with your back as straight as possible
- Play meditation music or meditate in silence
- Inhale and exhale deeply and slowly (it is recommended that you breathe this way all day)
- Focus on the breath, and repeat a mantra on the exhale (example: Om, Love, Shanti, Peace, Shalom, Sat Chit Ananda –Existence, Consciousness, Bliss, or any other meaningful word/prayer)
- Keep mind focused on the breath, body sensations and the mantra. This helps keep the mind from focusing on thoughts. If you think, keep bringing the mind back to the mantra and the breath.
- It will be difficult at first but start with 5 minutes a day and when you are ready, continue doing meditation for longer periods. Be patient, but know that slowly this will become a new habit, the brain will gain the training to stay focused for longer periods of time.
- It is recommended that you meditate at least 10 to 20 minutes a day to gain health benefits. But it is also recommended that you eventually do one minute of meditation per each year of age. So if you are 40, then 40 minutes.
STAYING MINDFUL MOST OF THE DAY
Eckhart Tolle in his book, The Power of the Now, also recommends that one takes advantage of moments when we are exercising, waiting in lines, waiting for an elevator, walking from the parking lot to the office, that you stay mindful, that you keep from thinking, or worrying, and use this time to give the mind, body and spirit, small opportunities to relax and meditate. There are other times when you are cooking, sawing, doing laundry, cleaning the house, that you have longer moments to just stay completely focused on the breath, perhaps some music and the activity you are realizing, with its smells and tastes and everything that has to do with the activity. This gives us a chance to keep in a state of mindfulness focused “in the now” most of the day, keeping ignited the body’s natural self-repair mechanisms most of the day, because the parasympathetic nervous system is in the driver’s seat, keeping the body in a chillout state, as recommended by Lissa Rankin.
In Yoga Science it is recommended that the thinking process should be used to gain wisdom, to cultivate mind, body, spirit, heart, to plan and for creativity, not to waste it on preoccupations, fear or worries. In a state of mindfulness, life seems to flow more easily, the energy flows and everything seems to work out more positively.
What I have proposed in our website is to meditate by listening to the meditation music while you watch the beautiful videos. You may also follow the steps described above while you are watching the videos. You should sit in a quiet place comfortably, with your back as straight as it is possible, in a dim light. You can focus on the breath and sensations in the body, repeat a mantra, meaningful word, or prayer on the exhale. You may also close your eyes, part of the time or all the time.
I would also like to recommend that you try doing the 21 day Meditation Experience with Deepak Chopra and Oprah. I have done these for a while now and it is Ahaa, inspiring and wow. They offer them for free throughout the year. You may inquire more at the “ChopraCenter.com” Each meditation lasts about 20 minutes but each gives inspirational, transformative, uplifting and energizing messages. I will provide some of the notes I have from one of their meditations so you can experience them (I will put them in a new icon on menu, under “MeditativeNotes”. They have many available now that can be purchased and it is not expensive, especially if you buy a few at a time. But again there are a few per year completely free, that you can take advantage of. I am just the type of person that has to hear them several times. Some of the meditations I have that have truly been uplifting are: Finding Your Flow, Creating Abundance, Desire and Destiny, Free to Love, Miraculous Relationships, Expanding Happiness…the one they are doing right now is Manifesting True Success, for free. This is a great way to start doing meditation and it helps establish it as a daily practice and set the habit as part of your daily routine. This practice truly helps us live life more fully.
MEDITATION IN KUNDALINI YOGA
From the book, Transitions to a Heart-Centered World with Kundalini Yoga and Meditations, Guru Rattana and Ann Marie Maxwell explain that, “The major goals of meditation include (1) becoming conscious of our inner non-verbal reality, where we connect with and integrate the physical, psychological, and spiritual aspects of our being; (2) dealing with inner conflict, crisis, and chaos and thereby reducing stress and anxiety and finding inner peace; and (3) awakening our intuition and finding our inner authority and soul guidance.
Meditation is an integral part of Kundalini Yoga. The meditation techniques taught by Yogi Bhajan upgrade the functioning of all aspects of our being and thus offer us a powerful and effective means to achieve higher states of consciousness. The secret to achieving a meditative mind is to change channels from our thinking dualistic mind to our neutral mind, which is our access route to our soul, the infinite, and our heart.
Kundalini Yoga use specific combinations of mantras, pranayama, mudras, and eye focus to (1) cleanse our subconscious (2) train our mind to focus within, (3) awaken the neutral mind and higher states of consciousness, and (4) redirect our attention to Infinite qualities of peace, stillness, silence, and love.
The combination of transformative techniques strengthens the nervous system and attunes our mind, body, and emotions so that we can vibrate with and hold the higher frequencies of love in our physical body. Gradually our whole being resonates, flows, and pulses with Devine Love.
Chanting sacred mantras takes us from the polarity of the positive-negative mind to the universal neutral mind, where it is possible to link the finite self with the infinite Self. The sounds of mantras serve as a bridge between individual consciousness and universal consciousness. Rhythmic repetition encodes uplifting thoughts and awakens us to a unified reality beyond our normal limited perception of physical reality. Instead of perceiving separation, conflict, and competition, we experience oneness, harmony, and connection with all life.”
As you can see meditation in Kundalini Yoga may include repeating a mantra while doing a specific body movement called mudra, and doing a specific breathing style called, pranayama, whether it is “breath of fire, dragon breath, or deep breathing, and finally a specific eye focus. You do this type of meditation in any of the Kundalini Yoga videos on this website, for at least a few minutes. If you want to continue meditating longer, just put it on pause and continue as long as you want; the longer you do it, the deeper the benefit, whether it is to gain courage, for healing, for abundance, for creativity, for intuition, for a neutral mind, or whatever it is the benefit. Some people may meditate 11 minutes, up to 31 minutes.
If you decide you would like to do just a meditation from one of the videos, it is recommended that you start by “tuning in” with the ADI MANTRA: ONG NAMO GURU DEV NAMO, you say it 3 times before you begin the meditation, just as you tune in before you start the yoga set. For yoga or meditation, use lose, comfortable clothes and use a timer to set the time you would like to meditate, so you don’t worry about watching the time.
In Yoga Science, it is posited that 40 consecutive days of any of these practices begins to set a new habit or discipline of doing the practices and within this time you really start to see the health benefits; within 90 days the new habit is installed, it is yours, it becomes part of your discipline, your management plan routine. This is the case if you start any of these meditations, or yoga practices, for even a few minutes at a time, but every day.
Guru Rattana and Ann Marie Maxwell advice, “Have patience with yourself. You are engaged in a long-term process of inner transformation. Even a minute or so of fully focused consciousness is a success. Because of the misconception that one can simply sit down and quiet the mind for meditation, many people become discouraged from meditating upon failing to achieve immediate results…mind is always generating thoughts. When we sit to meditate, we become acutely aware of the mind’s incessant activity. We use mantras to overcome these distractions and to train and focus the mind. Just keep going back to the mantra, the breath, and the other points of focus…
You may feel uncomfortable during meditation, but you will feel better afterwards. Since meditation is also a cleansing process, a lot of “garbage” may come up. This is normal and a sign that the process is working. Don’t expect to sit in bliss every time. When thoughts come up, don’t reflect or act on them. Just let them pass like the flow of a river. If you become negative or emotional, experience your feelings in your body; accept them without judgment and accept yourself exactly the way you are. Over a period of time, you will be pleased at how much lighter you feel and how certain things no longer bother you.
Integrate the effects of the mantras by deeply listening to their sounds and feeling their vibrations in your body, spine, and heart. Some like to visualize the mantra written on a screen before the closed eyes as it is intoned. With every technique, deeply listen, feel, and be present to your experience in your body so that you can ground in the higher frequencies. Our goal is to be able to take elevated consciousness into our daily lives.
Be sure to set aside time at the end of our practice to enjoy the rewards of your efforts. If you have been chanting, listen to the mantra chant back to you. Feel the energy you have created as radiance. Relax and let go in your sacred space within. Love yourself and your experience.
Meditation in combination with the practice of Kundalini Yoga is the most effective method for reaching higher states of consciousness. The practice of Kundalini Yoga strengthens the nervous system and the whole physical and emotional being, this way facilitating the ability to receive and utilize the highest frequencies induced by the meditation.
The people that practice the teachings of Yogui Bhajan do not experience dangerous or spontaneous awakenings of Kundalini; on the contrary, people who practice these technologies experiment a gradual rising, repetitive, safe and almost not perceivable of this Kundalini energy accompanied by its pleasures and talents.
The combination of Yoga and Meditation takes the meditative mind to living one’s daily life in a higher state of stability through a higher consciousness” (p. 129-131).
I hope you are as motivated as I am with this knowledge and wisdom, and hope that you really allow yourself to experience these practices and just enjoy “getting away within” whether you do it just as a regular meditation as recommended by Dr. Rankin, Dr. Chopra, and Dr. Tanzi or, mindfulness while you wait for the elevator, while you cook or clean as recommended by Eckhart Tolle, or as a Kundalini meditation as recommended by Guru Rattana and Ann Marie Maxwell.
I hope I have managed to spark your world and it serves to inspire, empower and motivate you.