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Sat, 25 Feb 2017
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Heart

Breath of life: The scientific health benefits of controlled breathing

According to ancient yogic texts, our vital life force —our Prana or our breath — derives from Pranayama, the practice of controlled breathing. Science is finally starting to catch up to the knowledge outlined in the Vedas, Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, and other ancient texts.

Meditation has been practiced for the past 5,000 years on Earth, yet science is only now starting to recognize and understand the significant health benefits it has on the human body. These benefits can be observed while meditating and can be seen during the day-to-day lives of regular meditators as well.

Comment: Deep Breathing Exercises Can Improve Your Life


Cell Phone

When technology becomes too much of a good thing: Tips for breaking your screen addiction

It's tough to disconnect in an always-on world. Many people have shared with me how their devices are an extension of their bodies to them. Arriving at the store or their office, realizing they've forgotten their phone, results in anxiety. Most of us probably know that overuse of the internet is not a good thing for us, but like all habits, they are hard to break. Since connectivity's a big part of today's culture and can negatively influence our mental health, it's a trend we need to pay attention to. Here are five of my favorite tips that address negative tech habit.

Do not start your day with email:

It can set a negative tone for your whole day. The moment when you wake up, it's not a great idea to read that email about another meeting that's a waste of time or get a reminder for an overdue bill. You're cranky before the day even begins. Start your day with a short devotional or a few moments in the sunshine to begin on a calm note.

Comment: Further reading:


Cross

The Real 'Clash of Civilizations'? Spiritual Roots of Russo-American Conflict

© Pavel Kazachkov
The Kremlin in Moscow
Whatever Russia is called outwardly, there is an inner eternal Russia whose embryonic character places her on an antithetical course to that of the USA.

The rivalry between the USA and Russia is something more than geopolitics or economics. These are reflections of antithetical worldviews of a spiritual character. The German conservative historian-philosopher Oswald Spengler, who wrote of the morphology of cultures as having organic life-cycles, in his epochal book The Decline of The West had much to say about Russia that is too easily mistaken as being of a Russophobic nature. That is not the case, and Spengler wrote of Russia in similar terms to that of the 'Slavophils'. Spengler, Dostoyevski, Berdyaev, and Solzhenistyn have much of relevance to say in analyzing the conflict between the USA and Russia. Considering the differences as fundamentally 'spiritual' explains why this conflict will continue and why the optimism among Western political circles at the prospect of a compliant Russia, fully integrated into the 'world community', was so short-lived.

Of the religious character of this confrontation, an American analyst, Paul Coyer, has written:
Amidst the geopolitical confrontation between Vladimir Putin's Russia and the US and its allies, little attention has been paid to the role played by religion either as a shaper of Russian domestic politics or as a means of understanding Putin's international actions. The role of religion has long tended to get short thrift in the study of statecraft (although it has been experiencing a bit of a renaissance of late), yet nowhere has it played a more prominent role—and perhaps nowhere has its importance been more unrecognized—than in its role in supporting the Russian state and Russia's current place in world affairs.1

Apple Red

How to get rid of old habits and find your true Self

One of the biggest lies we have come to believe about ourselves and our true nature is that we are nothing more than physical beings defined by a material reality, devoid of dimension and vital energy, and separate from God—which I trust you know by now is within us and all around us. To keep the truth about our real identity from us is not only enslaving, but it asserts that we are finite beings living a linear life that lacks real meaning.

Creating A New Mind

The assertion that there are no realms and no life beyond our physical world and that we have no control over our destiny is not a "truth" that you and I should ever believe in. You are a multidimensional being who creates your reality. Helping you accept this idea as your law and new belief has been my labor in my book. Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself means that you are going to have to lose your mind and create a new one.

Comment: To learn more about Dr. Joe Dispenza's work and how to make real changes to your mind, emotions and life, read Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself: How to Lose Your Mind and Create a New One.




Brain

Emotional 'hangovers' influence how we attend to and remember future experiences

Emotional experiences can induce physiological and internal brain states that persist for long periods of time after the emotional events have ended, a team of New York University scientists has found. This study, which appears in the journal Nature Neuroscience, also shows that this emotional "hangover" influences how we attend to and remember future experiences.

"How we remember events is not just a consequence of the external world we experience, but is also strongly influenced by our internal states -- and these internal states can persist and color future experiences," explains Lila Davachi, an associate professor in NYU's Department of Psychology and Center for Neural Science and senior author of the study.

" 'Emotion' is a state of mind," Davachi continues. "These findings make clear that our cognition is highly influenced by preceding experiences and, specifically, that emotional brain states can persist for long periods of time."

Heart

Benefits of caring: People who help and support others live longer

© aytuncoylum / Fotolia
Older people who help and support others live longer.
Older people who help and support others live longer. These are the findings of a study published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior, conducted by researchers from the University of Basel, Edith Cowan University, the University of Western Australia, the Humboldt University of Berlin, and the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin.

Older people who help and support others are also doing themselves a favor. An international research team has found that grandparents who care for their grandchildren on average live longer than grandparents who do not. The researchers conducted survival analyses of over 500 people aged between 70 and 103 years, drawing on data from the Berlin Aging Study collected between 1990 and 2009.

Comment:


Christmas Tree

The art of navigating family during the holidays

Families come together at Christmas because they love each other, deeply, but along with the packaged gifts, mince pies, knitted jumpers, kindly intentions, and tacky conversations, they lug along their childhood irritations or parental peeves. Those festering wounds that have been repressed for years can suddenly surface most unexpectedly around the festive table, after a few glasses of red.

How is it that family gatherings tend to bring out the worst in people? With all the longing to be together, deep desires for meaningful and quality time, and the joy of being with family, somehow things don't quite go as we hope, or more likely go totally against our plans. The enormous expectations, crazy preparations, excessive pressure, and idea of the perfect Christmas can turn any stable adult into a reckless, exploding Christmas Cracker. It's the time where the inner child runs riot. Everyone tries to give their own children what they didn't get, racing around trying to prove they are an adequate parent and haven't completely screwed up their young tribe. But, quite honestly the whole shebang, while filled with good cheer and never-ending optimism, is often a recipe for disaster.

Cell Phone

Is your social media making you depressed?

Jason Zook started every morning by scrolling through Twitter, Instagram, Vine, his blog and Facebook. It started to have an effect on the 33-year-old entrepreneur's mental health. The San Diego resident was stressed, distracted and feeling like he could never fulfill the expectations he created in his digital world, where he amassed more than 33,000 followers.

"You start your day looking at yourself compared to other people," he says. "You feel behind, and you have other people's opinions pressed upon you before you have a chance to have your own."

So he went cold turkey, going on a 30-day social-media detox. It was a smart move: A recent study from the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Research on Media, Technology, and Health found that using multiple social-media platforms may put you at increased risk of depression and anxiety.

Comment: See also:

Social media use and depression are clearly linked, says new study

New study finds frequent social media use linked to depression

Depression or anxiety strikes one in three teenage girls

Survey finds adolescents on social media have reduced satisfaction in life

Playground of abuse: Social media cause many kids to self-harm


Question

What do people talk about before they die?

As a divinity school student, I had just started working as a student chaplain at a cancer hospital when my professor asked me about my work. I was 26 years old and still learning what a chaplain did.

"I talk to the patients," I told him.

"You talk to patients? And tell me, what do people who are sick and dying talk to the student chaplain about?" he asked.

I had never considered the question before. "Well," I responded slowly, "Mostly we talk about their families."

"Do you talk about God?"

"Umm, not usually."

"Or their religion?"

"Not so much."

"The meaning of their lives?"

"Sometimes."

"And prayer? Do you lead them in prayer? Or ritual?"

"Well," I hesitated. "Sometimes. But not usually, not really."

I felt derision creeping into the professor's voice. "So you just visit people and talk about their families?"

"Well, they talk. I mostly listen."

"Huh." He leaned back in his chair.

Comment: See also:


Brain

9 Stoic principles to help you keep calm in times of chaos

Observing individuals who lead a creative life, we can identify elements of expertise, grit, an understanding, and passion. What's easy to overlook is the inner system within an individual—the set of principles that govern their mind and behavior. When failure ensues or the need to adapt is necessary, how does one respond? What do they tell themselves? In other words, what's their philosophy?

Not only does philosophy teach us how to live well and become better humans, but it can also aid in overcoming life's trials and tribulations. Some schools of thought are for more abstract thinking and debate, whereas others are tools that are immediately practical to our current endeavors.

Comment: See also