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Sun, 24 Jul 2016
The World for People who Think

Science of the Spirit
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Binoculars

Think distant: The incredible power of abstract thought

© Michelle Catania
This mind hack is simple: you imagine yourself way off in the future, or living in a different country or as a different person. The aim is to have that feeling of detachment, of stepping outside yourself, by whatever means you can.

This puts you into an abstract or psychologically distant frame of mind that has all kinds of effects on your perceptions of the world.

Camera

Do taking pictures of what you're doing alter your experience of it?

© Andrej Ciesielski
You see it pretty well everywhere you go: whether you are at concert, sports game, tourist destination, or even on something as ordinary as a subway train, there always seems to be at least one person taking a picture.

While this is largely because the majority of us are now walking around with a small and powerful camera in our pocket, there seems to be something else to it. Somewhere along the way it started to become more popular for people to capture and re-watch rather than simply observe or participate.

But does this decision to capture what we are seeing improve or worsen our experience?

Heart

Lessons on living and dying from a man who has seen 12,000 deaths

© Jorge Royan
What Can We Learn from the Dying?

Rooted in the hearts of many Hindus is the belief that if you breathe your last in Kashi (Varanasi) you attain what is popularly known as 'Kashi Labh' or 'the fruit of Kashi'—moksh or "release from the cycle of rebirth impelled by the law of karma".

Kashi Labh Mukti Bhawan in Varanasi is one of the three guesthouses in the city where people check in to die. The other two are Mumukshu Bhawan and Ganga Labh Bhawan. Established in 1908, Mukti Bhawan is well-known within the city and outside.

Bhairav Nath Shukla has been the Manager of Mukti Bhawan for 44 years. He has seen the rich and the poor take refuge in the guesthouse in their final days as they await death and hope to find peace. Shukla hopes with and for them. He sits on the wooden bench in the courtyard, against the red brick wall and shares with me 12 recurring life lessons from the 12000 deaths he has witnessed in his experience as the manager of Mukti Bhawan:

1. Resolve all conflicts before you go

Shukla recounts the story of Shri Ram Sagar Mishr, a Sanskrit scholar of his times. Mishr was the eldest of six brothers and was closest to the youngest one. Years ago an ugly argument between the two brothers led to a wall to partition the house.

In his final days, Mishr walked to the guesthouse carrying his little paan case and asked to keep room no. 3 reserved for him. He was sure he will pass away on the 16th day from his arrival. On the 14th day he said, "Ask my estranged brother of 40 years to come see me. This bitterness makes my heart heavy. I am anxious to resolve every conflict."

Comment: Further reading:


Laptop

Disinhibition and the rise of cyberhate, cyberstalking and online harassment

Online harassment is a problem of epidemic proportions that is increasing around the world at an alarming rate. Frequently cloaked in anonymity and with an air of moral righteousness, online trolls and cyberstalkers reveal the worst side of human nature in their efforts to attack and suppress the expression of free will and freedom of belief.

There have always been people with a predisposition to preying on others. The schoolyard bully, the jealous friend or ex, the boss hiding feelings of inferiority by putting down his employees, or the numerous cases throughout history of people persecuting, assaulting and harassing those who live outside the status quo.

In the past this abuse has largely occurred physically, with extreme cases of harassment leading to torture and murder. However this physicality has also been a limiting factor for those with a pathological desire to express hatred or violence but may not for fear of face-to-face confrontation or the possibility of physical repercussions. With the advent of the internet however this barrier has largely been removed due to the effects of online anonymity. Perverse individuals seeking revenge or who enjoy inflicting pain on others are given a virtual outlet through which they can express their hatred virtually free of consequence.

Life Preserver

Acceptance and moving forward: Practicing self-compassion helps us cast off the dead weight of regret

Sometimes, regret is a deadweight that we carry through life, slowing us down and making our shoulders ache. But other times, it turns into a kind of fuel; it propels rather than hinders, motivates rather than distracts.

What's the difference between these two outcomes? A new paper by researchers at UC Berkeley suggests that it might be self-compassion.

The researchers recruited 400 adults and invited a group of them to identify their biggest regret, then write about it with self-compassion and understanding. Some wrote about cheating on their partner; others wrote about becoming estranged from their parents. As a comparison, other participants journaled about their regrets from a perspective of self-esteem—focusing on their positive qualities, rather than their negative ones—and others described a hobby they enjoy (the control group).

In questionnaires administered afterward, participants who had taken a self-compassionate perspective toward their regrets reported more motivation for self-improvement compared to participants in the self-esteem and control groups. They were committed to avoid the same mistake in the future; they felt they had grown and learned from it.

Comment:


People 2

'Why don't I have a daddy?': The psychology of fatherlessness

"Kids have a hole in their soul in the shape of their Dad. And if a father is unwilling or unable to fill that hole, it can leave a wound that is not easily healed." - Ronald Warren
One summer in the village, the people gathered for a picnic. As they shared food and conversation, someone noticed a baby in the river, struggling and crying. The baby was going to drown!

Someone rushed to save the baby. Then, they noticed another screaming baby in the river, and they pulled that baby out. Soon, more babies were seen drowning in the river, and the townspeople were pulling them out as fast as they could. It took great effort, and they began to organize their activities in order to save the babies as they came down the river. Others tried to jump in the water and teach the babies how to swim to solve the problem.

As everyone else was busy in the rescue efforts to save the babies, two of the townspeople started to run away along the shore of the river.

People

Family karma: Energetic ties from your ancestors

Family karma is the karma of your ancestral bloodline, from your parents down to you. Say your father was the most spiritually developed within his family and he had five siblings, he would be the carrier of 'energetic blockages' in the karmic family line. He is carrying this burden from when he was born and will continue to do so his whole life, unless he releases it. It is a passing down of energy either through physical and verbal means, or completely energetic and subconscious.

It can affect the way in which you interact with your family on an unconscious level.

Comment: For a more in depth look at generational trauma read the following articles and listen to the The Health & Wellness Show: ‌Trauma from your Mama: The DNA -- Stress connection:


Music

Music has a powerful impact on children's cognitive development

Alternative and complementary treatments such as creative art, meditation, and yoga have been proposed to bridge many gaps that conventional medicine cannot. But music, because of its ubiquity in our society as well as its ease of transmission, has perhaps the greatest potential among alternative therapies to reach people in deep and profound ways. Music matters and it heals.

Music instruction appears to accelerate brain development in young children, particularly in the areas of the brain responsible for processing sound, language development, speech perception and reading skills, according to initial results of a five-year study by USC neuroscientists.

We now know through controlled treatment outcome studies that listening to and playing music is a potent treatment for mental health issues. 400 published scientific papers have proven the old adage that "music is medicine."

Research demonstrates that adding music therapy to treatment improves symptoms and social functioning among schizophrenics. Further, music therapy has demonstrated efficacy as an independent treatment for reducing depression, anxiety and chronic pain.

Comment: Music is a powerful healing therapy for those of all ages:


Magic Hat

Do ordinary people possess superhuman powers? Extraordinary feats of ordinary humans

In the face of heroic efforts needed to save our own lives, what chance do we have to save the world? Confronted with current global crises, we understandably shrink back, overwhelmed with a feeling of insignificance and paralysis-unable to influence the affairs of the world. It is far easier to be entertained by reality TV than to actually participate in our own reality.

Butterfly

Are you really spiritual or are you just fooling yourself?

Who is more aligned with their path of spiritual evolution?
  • A person sitting in a lotus position, taking deep breaths and in perfect composure?
  • Or a person curled up in a ball, crying hysterically?
If we base our answer on everything we have learned from "new age" philosophies and most spiritual teachings out there, I think it's fair to say that the person meditating wins. He/she appears peaceful, at ease, and detached. Now I'm not about to "shock" you and say that the opposite is true. But I would argue that this image is just that: an image.