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Thu, 27 Apr 2017
The World for People who Think

Science of the Spirit


What does it mean to be truly vulnerable?

This question has been on my mind a lot lately. Being vulnerable means letting your guard down, and it means risk. By completely exposing yourself and expressing your thoughts and feelings, you risk being hurt, you risk being rejected, and you risk being seen. Understandably, many people find being vulnerable challenging and frightening, particularly men, at least in my experience. They often have a more difficult time showing or expressing emotion, having been told by society, their parents, or their friends that it's not 'manly' to do so. It's not uncommon for men to feel weak or effeminate when expressing emotion, so often they lock it all away and bear the burden of holding on to so much. But there is such power in being able to be absolutely vulnerable with someone, and deep connections are made in this way.

Comment: Additional lectures by Dr. Brene Brown: The power of vulnerability


4 crucial steps to silencing toxic self-talk

If you are like most people, you know your inner critic all too well. It is the voice in your head that judges you, doubts you, belittles you, and constantly tells you that you are never good enough. It says negative hurtful things to you—things that you would never even dream of saying to anyone else. I am such a dumb a$$, I am a complete idiot, I am such a phony, I never do anything right, I will never succeed.

Like it or not, everything you say to yourself matters. The inner critic isn't harmless. It inhibits you, limits you, and stops you from pursuing the life that you truly want to live. It robs you of your peace of mind and emotional well-being, and if left unchecked for long enough, it can even lead to serious mental health problems like depression or anxiety.

The inner critic can have multiple purposes that on the surface might seem useful; it can make you feel like you are trying to do right in someway by wanting to be better or to achieve more. However, using self-criticism for these reasons, instead of positive self-talk, is the same as choosing punishment over a reward. While punishment can deter certain behaviors in the short-term, rewards are generally better for shaping new and lasting behavior. When you punish someone for what they do wrong that doesn't teach them how to do it right. Imagine a small child learning to walk—if you scream at him and call him a little dummy every time he falls down, you can imagine that would have a negative impact on the child. It would certainly have a very different effect then if you smile and encourage the child each time he took a step toward you. When your inner critic consistently labels you in a negative way it has a demoralizing effect and shapes your larger self-concept about who you are and what you can do.

Comment: Further reading:
Children are predisposed to believe they are inadequate because they actually are. Children can't do things that adults can do. They do spill the milk. They can't tie their shoes. They mess up when they try to do things.

As adults, we know that such inadequacy is normal. Children aren't expected to be able to do things because they are children. We understand that they have to learn. Unfortunately, children don't have that perspective. They often see their inability to do things as evidence of their inadequacy.

Good parents encourage their children when they mess up. They help the child understand that they have to learn to do new things, and that making mistakes is a normal part of learning. All parents criticize their children at times, and no parent is immune to the frustrations of raising children. But what about the parent who is overly critical? What about the parent who displays his frustration or disapproval whenever the child makes any mistake? Such parental behavior simply reinforces the child's feelings of inadequacy. The internal critic is born.

Learning to silence critical self-talk

Better Earth

Learning to live a sustainable life in a "material" world

A few months ago, I went through the worst experience of my life: my father passed away. It was a cancer which took him, and a small part of myself as well. As I reflect on the time proceeding his death, there were so many hard parts. One of the hardest was not being able to mourn in peace.

Nope, in our society you can't just mourn a person's loss - you need to work. Not just at your job, but on piles of paperwork, people to notify, and arrangements to be made. Finally, when I thought all of the hard work was over, I had to empty out my father's apartment.

Little did I know that this would be the bitterest labor yet.

Comment: "We shop because we're bored, anxious, depressed or angry, and we make the mistake of buying material goods and thinking they are treats which will fill the hole, soothe the wound, make us feel better. The problem is, they're not treats, they're responsibilities and what we own very quickly begins to own us."

See also: The vicious cycle of addictive buying has consumed the average American's life


What makes dancing so special?

We all love dancing, even those of us with two left feet. What makes dancing so special?

It is thrilling.

Our brain loves anticipation, probably even more than the actual rewards themselves. The pleasure that we derive from music is chiefly related to the intermingling of anticipation and surprise - you start listening to a tune, find a repeating pattern in it and then start anticipating the pattern. This anticipation is thrilling and so is the moment when anticipation and reality meet. However, too much predictability can start to get boring, so musicians throw in little elements of surprise - when the brain is anticipating something but gets something else, perhaps even better than what it was anticipating. These little surprises are pleasant for the brain too.

Comment: Get on up and dance! See more in the following articles:

Ice Cube

Feeling cold? Try meditating

Tibetan nuns are able to use meditation techniques to increase their core body temperature.
Meditating can make you warmer, researchers studying ancient Tibetan techniques have found.

Scientists in Singapore say the discovery means core body temperature can be controlled by the brain - and could have major implications for people working in extreme environments.

The researchers have discovered that core body temperature can be increased by using certain meditation techniques.

They believe that meditation could, therefore, also be used to help people to function in very cold environments.


Simple games can develop situational awareness


  • How many people total were involved in this accident?
  • How many males and how many females?
  • What color were the two cars?
  • What objects were lying on the ground?
  • What injury did the man on the ground seem to be suffering from?
  • What was the license plate number of one of the cars?
How did you do on this little test? Not as well as you would have liked? Perhaps it's time you strengthened your powers of observation and heightened your situational awareness.

Enhancing one's observational abilities has numerous benefits: it helps you live more fully in the present, notice interesting and delightful phenomena you would have otherwise missed, seize opportunities that disappear as quickly as they arrive, and keep you and your loved ones safe.

Today we're going to offer some games, tests, and exercises that will primarily center on that latter advantage: having the kind of situational awareness that can help you prevent and handle potentially dangerous and critical situations. But the benefits of practicing them will certainly carry over into all other aspects of your life as well.

Ready to start heightening your senses and building your powers of observation? Read on.

Comment: For more about Situational Awareness:


The science part of how Reiki actually works

The healing art of Reiki has been practiced and taught around the world for many years, with many believing its origins to be as ancient as those of humans themselves. With scientific research now emerging attesting to the ability of human thoughts, emotions, and intentions to affect the physical material world, an increasing number of scientists, quantum physicists in particular, are stressing the importance of studying factors associated with consciousness and its relation to our physical world. One of these factors is human intention.

Reiki essentially uses human intention to heal another person's ailments. Practitioners usually place their hands on the patient in order to channel energy into them by means of touch. It can be roughly defined as using compassionate mental action and physical touch, energy healing, shamanic healing, nonlocal healing, or quantum touch.

Comment: The healing power of Reiki


An exploration of laughter, giggles and mirth

© Thinkstock
My conversation with Sophie Scott is nearly over when she spins round in her chair to show me a video of a near-naked man cannonballing into a frozen swimming pool. After a minute of flexing his muscles rather dramatically, he makes the jump - only to smash and tumble across the unbroken ice. The water may have remained solid, but it doesn't take long for his friends to crack up.

"They start laughing as soon as they see there isn't blood and bones everywhere," says Scott. "And they are SCREAMING with mirth; it's absolutely helpless." (If you want to see the video in question, you can find it here - though it does contain some swearing.)

Why do we get such an attack of the giggles - even when someone is in pain? And why is it so contagious? As a neuroscientist at University College London, Scott has spent the last few years trying to answer these questions - and atTED2015 in Vancouver last week, she explained why laughter is one of our most important, and misunderstood, behaviours.


New study shows that to-do lists suck the fun out of life

© Nikki Buitendijk/Flickr
Life moves fast, and finding enough hours in the day to get everything done is, at times, a seemingly impossible task. Scheduling, whether keeping a calendar, a to-do list, or setting a smartphone reminder, is a saving grace for many people trying to accomplish as much as they can, as efficiently as they can.

But a new study suggests it's best to ditch that to-do list when it comes to having fun.

Researchers conducted 13 studies examining how scheduling leisure activities affects the way these events are experienced, and discovered that assigning a specific date and time for leisure can have the opposite intended effect, making it feel much more like a chore.

People 2

How to tell the difference between worry & anxiety

© Flickr
People often use the terms worry and anxiety interchangeably but they are very different psychological states. Although both worry and anxiety are associated with a general sense of concern and disquiet, how we experience them and the implications they each have for our emotional and psychological health are quite distinct.

10 Differences between Worry and Anxiety

1. We tend to experience worry in our heads and anxiety in our bodies.

Worry tends to be more focused on thoughts in our heads while anxiety is more visceral in that we feel it throughout our bodies.

2. Worry tends to be specific while anxiety is more diffuse.

We worry about getting to the airport on time (specific threat) but we feel anxious about 'traveling' (a vaguer and more general concern).

Comment: In this day and age there is a lot to be worried and anxious about. As Gabriela Segura, M.D. wrote as far back as 2013,"Our normalcy bias prevents us from taking notice that tens of millions of people in Western countries are dropping like flies from illness, depression and self-destruction." But, by maintaining nutritious diets and restoring balance to our lives, we can take huge steps that protect ourselves, and future generations, from this flood of toxicity.

Also see:
Face life with Éiriú Eolas, a stress relief program

On a planet gone crazy, there is a stress-relief program that helps you face life. Used by thousands of practitioners world-wide, Éiriú Eolas helps to effectively manage the physiological, emotional, and psychological effects of stress, helps to clear blocked emotions, and helps improve thinking ability.

Try it for yourself. Do it for the people you love. Do it for the future.