Saturday, October 31, 2020

Free Will

There are people that say they can accomplish something, then there are those that say they can't. Both are usually right. We are that which we believe about ourselves... precisely. What we think becomes our reality. From the moment of our birth, we are taught that no matter what happens to us, it is because of some interaction we have with something “out there”. But this is not true. There is nothing that can possibly happen in our experience that is independent of us. There is no “out there”. There is no such thing as being a victim. It is our own consciousness that determines the kind of experiences that we will have based upon our thoughts and our focus. What we focus upon becomes our reality. There is absolutely nothing independent of us in this reality. Each of us steers our own course. The choice is always ours. That's what free will is all about.

Friday, October 30, 2020

The Power of Intent

Sitting quietly each day, focused intently upon that which we wish to manifest in our lives, is perhaps the quickest way to build the life we dream of. It may seem esoteric to create one's own reality, but there is no magic to it. Quantum physics tells us that is how the universe works, and scientific research affirms that we all have this power. Contemporary findings in the burgeoning field of neuroplasticity outline our neurological capacity to change our beliefs, behaviors, and habits directly through applied intent.

“Neuroplasticity simply refers to the fact that the brain is the organ that is built to change in response to experience.” This explanation comes from psychology and psychiatry professor Richard Davidson, a pioneering figurehead in this field:

“We’re learning we can shape our brains in more adaptive and beneficial ways by cultivating healthy habits of mind… When given a challenging situation your brain hasn’t encountered before, it can reorganize and restructure to respond to that situation. The more often your brain is exposed to that new challenge – like learning a musical instrument, for instance – the more it reorganises and makes that path more established… Our brains are constantly being shaped wittingly or unwittingly – most of the time unwittingly…. We’re raising the possibility to intentionally training our brains to improve well-being.”

We each have the capacity to re-wire ourselves at any time by turning our attention to our mind and the stories of fear and failure we tell ourselves... by consciously setting our intent to focus on a simple, positive, present tense statement. By creating such a practice centering on this intention or ‘resolve’, the aim is to choose and then change whatever our driving desire is.

It is not quite enough, however, to repeatedly speak a simple phrase of intent, as with a mantra, such as 'I am confident', 'I am successful', or 'I am happy and in tune with the universe'. An effective intention needs to be truly felt in order to really believe it and manifest it. A good time to focus on intent would be during meditation when one can take the time apart from the world to really feel the change already existing within us.

There is a distinct correlation between the basis of neuroplasticity as a means to train our brain and the practice of focused intent, resting on the idea that we can actively choose and change our motivating drive and desires. But there is another significant element on which they both agree: the mind-body connection.

Neuroplastic research gives evidence of this psycho-physical relationship. In one of Davidson’s aptly titled talks - ‘Transform your mind, change your brain: Neuroplasticity and personal transformation’ - he uses the phrase ‘the embodied mind’ to encapsulate the idea that our minds and brains are not simply supported by a disembodied architecture, but rather there is bi-directional communication between the brain and the body which provides a mechanism for our minds to influence our bodies in ways that may be consequential for health.

It is essential that we actually believe what we intend in the present-tense ‘I am…’ statement, so much so that we feel it in the body. You must physically feel what it is like in that moment to have that asset or characteristic in your life. This phenomenon is perhaps the most integral, if not the most challenging part of the practice. However, as Davidson states, it is bidirectional – therefore if the mind is having trouble believing, then begin with the body.

These words are synonymous with social psychologist Amy Cuddy’s viral 2012 TED Talk - ‘Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are’. This is perhaps one of the best known explanations of how to tap into the embodied mind. Cuddy’s research was motivated by the proposition that when you pretend to be powerful, you are more likely to actually feel powerful. We know that our minds change our bodies, but it is also true that our bodies change our minds.

Essentially, if you play the part, particularly through body language, of a ‘powerful’ or successful person, it is possible to actually influence the body’s physiological processes to line up with this. It appears that another natural consequence of this will be the creation of a new thought pattern or neuroplastic change. The beautiful thing about Cuddy’s research is its emphasis on the body first, so even if you cannot find that state of belief in your mind you can give it a helping hand by playing the part in your body and behavior.

Practicing intent is far less mysterious than it may seem; when placed into a scientific context it is essentially a form of neuroplastic training. The aim is to integrate the wishes of the mind into the neurological processes of the brain, which translates to the functioning and feelings in our body and ultimately is seen in the actions and appearances of us as individuals! The transformation can happen from the top (brain/mind) down, or from the bottom (body/behavior) up. So if stating your desire is not working, try flipping it on its head and let the body guide the mind. It is as much a state of the body, as it is a state of mind. If you have to, simply fake it until you become it.

Adapted from an article by Miranda Weindling on June 13th, 2017, in upliftconnect.com

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Finding Happiness Within

What lies behind us and what lies before us
are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.  
 Ralph Waldo Emerson

There are a lot of unhappy people in the world. Many are angry and want to change the ways of the world to find what they believe they are missing. But it is not the world that is causing their unhappiness. Unhappy people are generally asking the wrong question, and then looking in the wrong place for the answer. Someone or something else is not the missing element that turns the world upside down. Happiness must begin within.

Discontent doesn't disappear on its own, and battling the world will not bring about contentment. Fate deals the cards, but it is we who must learn to play them. If you believe you have been dealt poor cards, you can still choose to play them well and win at the game of life.

There is a perfect loving intelligence innately present within each one of us. There is a level of mind that we know as the sub-consciousness that hides a level of unwitting conditioning by parents, school, peers, church, and society, a set of mental imprints that collectively make up our personality through which we live our life. Negative thought patterns remain active in deeper consciousness until we deliberately interrupt the cycle, the loop-feed to the conscious mind.

The sub-consciousness is not a separate mind but rather a submerged aspect of our full mind - the storage chip which contains every nuance of learned behavior since birth. Housing all of our fears, phobias and addictions, this sub-conscious content exists in a perfect state and depends on mental tension, physical stress, fear, and low self-esteem for its survival.

Mental stress, physical tension, and residual fear are prerequisite dynamics for maintaining the involuntary influencing of the conscious mind without our conscious consent. Unwittingly, through non-awareness, we block our own inner bliss, smother the very source of the happiness we each innately crave. Studies suggest we use only a fraction of our mental potential. As we undergo a shift to spiritual awareness, intuition reveals that a direct blissful experience results from a rebalancing of the deficit between being spiritually asleep and spiritually awake.

Practicing meditation can change one's life completely and help restore happiness. The practice awakens deeper regions of untapped consciousness resulting in intangible levels of bliss, harmony, and compassion, opening a level of awareness where happiness can be found in every situation, particularly in nature, and a realization that happiness is the innate status of each soul awaiting creative exploration and development. Furthermore, with continued practice, the benefits are cumulative, from a spiritual well-being perspective; the practice, as it matures, becomes even more noticeably rewarding and uplifting.

When we meditate and simultaneously tune into the universal life-force within, focusing fully on the now moment, the entire world takes on a renewed perspective. Suddenly things that may have seemed mundane or a chore take on new meaning. Instead of ‘thinking about’ some activity, we remain fully focused ‘on’ that activity. Thus, a tedious chore like washing the dishes can become an enjoyable means of deepening one’s spiritual awareness.

Connecting with the universal life-force can be one's greatest reward in life. Happiness is always there. We need only find it within. Remember, the sun always shines; it simply requires instruction on clearing the clouds to experience its direct warmth within.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

How to Improve Intelligence

I am blessed to have been born with good genetics. My IQ measure is higher than most and I have always had a knack for problem solving and communication. With age I'm increasingly attentive to the necessity to use my intellect to keep it sharp for as long as I can. Like a good knife, the mind needs honed or it will fail when you need it most.

Intelligence is more than just being good at taking an IQ test; it is the result of different skills and aptitudes mixing and interacting together. While intelligence can be measured in nie ways – linguistic, logical-mathematical, visual-spatial, naturalistic, musical, existential, kinesthetic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal, there are really only two types. Fluid intelligence is the ability to think abstractly, reason, identify patterns, solve problems, and discern relationships. This type of intelligence depends mainly on one’s native ability and is not something that can be obtained through education or exposure to various environmental factors. Crystallized intelligence is the opposite of fluid intelligence. It refers to the knowledge and skills that are obtained through education, learning, and experience; because of this, crystallized intelligence can increase throughout a lifetime.

When we encounter an entirely new problem that cannot be solved with our existing knowledge, we must rely on fluid intelligence to solve it. Crystallized intelligence is based upon facts and rooted in experiences. As we age and accumulate new knowledge and understanding, crystallized intelligence becomes stronger. These are two very separate and distinct types of intellectual prowess, but they work together. Fluid intelligence is the fuel we need to process the information we acquire from our crystallized and learned experiences. On the other hand, crystallized intelligence is the oil that keeps our fluid intelligence running in good condition.

Since fluid and crystallized intelligence are both important aspects of optimal learning, I have always been interested in learning ways to harness and improve my own intelligence. I've found three things to be helpful in keeping a fine edge on my own mental life so as not to slip by the wayside over time. First and foremost, in keeping with the “use it or lose it” adage, I work hard at staying proactively interested in the world around me, always open to new experiences and new opportunities that come my way.

It’s all about this thing called neural plasticity. Plasticity refers to the number of connections our neurons make between each other, how they are affected, and how long-lasting they are. Our intelligence is affected by how much information our neurons take in and pass on to each other. Regularly exposing oneself to new experiences and learning opportunities literally primes one's brain for learning.

I literally look for things that stimulate my mind – not necessarily something deep or academic - just something to keep my brain moving. Writing in this daily blog is my trail of breadcrumbs of where I have mentally been lately. I can't emphasize enough how having many mental and physical pursuits to chase in life prevents the mind from being idle and keeps us young at heart. Let's face it, when it comes to not only mental acuity, but also one's physical health and longevity, idleness is our archenemy.

The other two things I do to keep myself as mentally and physically healthy as I can for as long as I can are that I discipline myself to do regular aerobic exercise, mostly in the form of running and hiking, and I get plenty of sleep. We all know exercise promotes a healthy body, but it is just as vital for maintaining a healthy mind. It raises IQ, protects the brain from disease by regularly flooding it with oxygen, improves memory and attention capacity, and even slows aging.

As far as getting enough sleep, it has indisputably been shown that sleep deprivation affects both cognitive and physical performance. When I don't get enough sleep I can tell – my mood is a clear indicator.

It is easy to get lazy about maintaining health, both physically and mentally. The widespread incidence of Alzheimer's disease is the result of lifestyle choices of diet and mental and physical activity and not due to some foreign agent of infection. By taking responsibility for our own health as we age, most of us can avoid the impact of degenerative illness in our later years. A quality lifestyle has a price. I am willing to pay it.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Something I Didn't Know

Imagine an amazing high-tech security system combined with a military-grade arsenal of weapons, all set up inside your body to do surveillance and identify invasive agents, then neutralize, poison, and destroy them before they can harm you. And imagine this system has a memory so vast that it is able to store not only information on how to fight never-before-seen diseases and infections, but one that never forgets diseases you've had all the way back to when you were a child. Science calls this your Immune System.

Our amazing body has a defensive system built in to protect us from most outside biological attacks, from our digestive system to our organs to our lymphatic system, and even right down at the cellular level. Without diving into the specifics of T-cells, B-cells, Interferon, Macrophages, Immunoglobulins, Neutrophils, Basophils, Eosinphils, and Mast Cells, I would like to take a look at two appendages – the tonsils and the appendix - that play an essential role in the immune system – something that many of us never knew.

From the beginning to the end of the digestive tract, our amazing bodies have immune surveillance checkpoints, beginning in our mouth and extending all the way to our large intestine. These checkpoints are there to check the content of the air we breathe and the food that enters our bodies. If anything potentially harmful is detected – bacteria, viruses, parasites, pathogenic microorganisms – an immune alarm is sounded, directing immune cells and immune chemicals to deal with the emergency immediately.

The three main security checkpoints are the tonsils in the throat, Peyer's Patches in the small intestine, and the appendix in the large intestine. When an intrusion is detected, these essential organs spring into action, triggering a complex and lethal immune response. Who knew?

Long mistaken by medical doctors as a useless organ, and too often surgically removed, the tonsils are now recognized as an essential part of our immune response. Loaded with immune T-cells, B-cells, and potent immune chemicals, their location positions them as the first line of defense against any invader you might inhale or ingest. It has been discovered that the tonsils can synthesize the antibody for Poliomyelitis, and they may be the only place in the body that can do this. Doctors that were quick to remove the tonsils of children left them essentially defenseless against the paralyzing polio virus. With the knowledge we have today about the importance of the tonsils in maintaining immunity, it makes tonsillectomies look barbaric and insane in hindsight.

Then located in the small intestine, there are lymph nodes called Peyer's Patches that are saturated with immune T-cells and B-cells, which not only directly kill harmful disease-causing germs in the digestive tract, but also mediate an entire immune response whenever germs are detected after food leaves the stomach.

Then there is the appendix, long thought by the medical community to be another useless organ, like the tonsils. Today we recognize the appendix to be an immune aggregator. Positioned perfectly at the beginning of the large intestine, it can detect disease-causing microorganisms as they enter the bowel, neutralizing them, and if necessary, initiating an immune response signalling the spleen and other organs to release more immune cells as needed.

Needless to say, modern surgeons do everything they can these days to avoid removing these essential organs. If you always suspected that God put your tonsils and appendix there for a reason, you were right!

Adapted from the work of Dr. Richard Schulze

Monday, October 26, 2020

Tuning in to our Inner Muse

 
Ask any person who has ever created anything worthwhile and lasting and they will likely tell you that their most creative contributions came from somewhere else – through them at best, but not of them. As a wordsmith and author myself, I have had those moments from time to time where the universe just seemed to flow through me. All I needed to do was sit down at the keyboard as a conduit and let the ideas flow uninterrupted into reality. Ideas seem to enter your mind with perfect clarity without thinking, and once recorded generally require little if any editing.

Many of the greatest musicians will tell you that their greatest music and lyrics were generally written or tape recorded in a very short amount of time. It can be thought of as a kind of downloading during a heightened state of awareness. Conditions are often ripe when one quiets the mind, such as during meditation, but just as inducive when one finds that sweet spot of creativity and enters “the zone”, extremely focused on the immediacy of whatever we are doing. Everything just magically falls into place and a sort of genius takes over and just flows through us.

While it sounds fantastical, it is more than likely something that all of us have access to if we tune in to our inner muse. Literally thousands of creative artists and scientists have shared their stories of this lofty experience over the centuries. Perhaps the most creative innovator of modern times, Nikola Tesla, said that “the gift of mental power comes from God, Divine Being, and if we concentrate our minds on that truth, we become in tune with this great power.”

I love what Dan Fogelberg said about the origin of his remarkable love song Longer - “this song was drifting around the universe, saw me, and decided I'd give it a good home.” We need only quiet the mind, be humble, and open wide to the love and generosity of the universe. Trust your inner muse to lead you toward a new creative spark. Again, from Tesla: “My brain is only a receiver. In the Universe is a core from which we obtain knowledge, strength, and inspiration. I have not penetrated into the secrets of this core, but I know that it exists.”

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Trust the Heart to Return to Joy

There are over a million more signals being sent every second from our hearts throughout our bodies than originate from the brain. From an evolutionary standpoint, the brain is secondary to the heart. Yet we have been purposefully taught to disregard our hearts – our gut feelings – in favor of reason and logic – to live our lives, in essence, through a paradigm of facts, figures, and logic, instead of lore, legends, and magic. We were born as infinite beings of magic, yet we have been reduced to mere specimens – purposefully separated from our parents at a young age so that we can learn to grow up to be “smart” and obedient citizens. Our birthright of joy and freedom and trust have been replaced with fear and rules and doubt.

Look at any newborn. We are born into this world with a remarkable joy and passion inside us to feel alive at every moment and experience life freely and openly. Fear can only come about from the beliefs that children absorb through society as they grow up in a system of conformity. Parents, daycare, the extended family, school, and media and government influences impose their wills and agendas upon our beautiful, pure, innocent, and brilliant children. The whole of society perpetrates and perpetuates an agenda designed to result in conformity to norms, stunting the imagination and emotional and psychological growth of most all of us from an early age.

We do not require outside help to evolve and grow. We are born with all the tools we need. We are our own Gods, bestowed with God-like powers over ourselves, bounded only by our own imagination. The basis of everything we are taught in school is a lie. This is the conundrum that explains why we have all become so convinced of the necessity to give up our independence to the concept of the “greater good”, which is nothing more than a euphemism for society – one that allows the few to rule and regulate and the many to struggle in limitation in an otherwise boundless world of abundance.

We are all influenced by society to interpret our world of experience in a certain way... riddled with fear and filled with lies and “facts”. This monster, we know as the status quo, whose enemies are the heart and any sort of change. It is hard to see the massive conspiracy being perpetuated by the longstanding instituions that create the fabric of society, yet they secretly and uniformly force us all into thinking and believing that this is all normal, that it is just the way things are. Never mind questioning how things could be if no one interfered with our children.

We are all asleep to one degree or another. Blind to what we have lost because we have paid too much attention to the pied piper for too long. We have been brainwashed and corrupted by society since birth. We have become subdued into a comatose state of blind obedience to a system that is doing a very thorough job of controlling and regulating our minds to its will. But while we are born without playbooks as to how all this works, we are still born with free will, which they cannot take away from us. And free will always gives us the power to choose what we believe and what we might want at any moment, regardless of what is being peddled to us as the “truth”. The exact moment that we begin to choose non-conformity is the precise moment that we will return home to a full awakening of who we truly are and why we are here.

They may have captured our minds, but our hearts can never be corrupted or fooled. Only our minds can be cleverly tricked with worded lies as we attempt to reason things out instead of just knowing and trusting what we hold to be our own truth. Turn off the noise of the world. Find a space of quiet as often as you can, and listen to the voice of internal wisdom that has always been there to guide and protect you. Question the world, but trust your heart.

Never forget that all life begins and ends in joy. At the beginning and end of our physical life here we are free of the human mind, free of any lies that may enter it during life, free of the burden of social influence. All that is left is God's Truth. The heart is our constant connection to God; it is our God-given instrument to find the Truth in every moment between birth and leaving this plane.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Unconditional Love

Someone once said that love is a many spendored thing. It can be romantic and passionate, for sure, but true love is also deeply rooted in friendship and partnership. The unconditional love that everyone longs for, but incredibly only a fortunate few seem to experience, is our sole reason as humans for being on this earth.

Think about this: Throughout the natural world, in every moment, unconditional love exists eternally. There are no judgements found in the forest. True love is the absence of judgement. There is no “right” or “wrong'; no “good” or “bad”; only ACCEPTANCE of what is.

So if you are in a relationship which you wish would work better or “give back” more, first try giving to it... without conditions... without judgement... without anything expected or asked for in return. Then see what happens!

If the fires of love seem to have dimmed, remember the resilience of nature. Love is always ready to spring back to life the moment we focus our intentions on it and “BELIEVE” it back into existence.

Friday, October 23, 2020

Be Careful What You Think

Because we have been taught that

THINKING is the sign of a free mind,

we have all become prisoners

of our own thoughts.

Whatever we believe is the truth

becomes our reality.

But virtually all of our so-called truths

come from agencies of society

who have an agenda...

an agenda to remain in power

at all costs!

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Why I Love to Climb Mountains

Most everyone is fascinated by towering mountain peaks, but the thought of climbing them is where the fascination abruptly ends and the fear begins. In our video-adept world, the images of mountain climbing that are too often portrayed are ones of disaster. Climbers are perceived more often than not as struggling for survival in a ferociously steep and unrelentingly dangerous landscape. It seems like a risky way to live and a frightening way to die. Avalanches, bullet-like rocks falling, electrical storms, freezing to death, getting gangrene and losing fingers and toes – why would anyone deliberately place themselves in such a nightmarish situation?

Despite the terrible hardships that may be endured and the awful deaths, it should pique one's curiosity to find out why those who climb go back and do it again and again, taking on ever riskier and more difficult challenges. There must be something very special about mountaineering to make climbers believe the risks are worth it. Perhaps the only way to understand why people climb mountains, however, is to go do it yourself. Climbers do not wrestle with such questions, and non-climbers will never understand a climber's explanation anyway.

Death is always a very real possibility when climbing mountains. It is both horrifying and fascinating in equal measure. This, in and of itself, may be the very essence of mountaineering, however; it is a strange mixture of fear and excitement, unlike the appeal of any other endeavor. I would not call it a sport, for there is no game to win, no competitor to beat, and no medals to bring home. For the most part one might argue that it makes no sense and is absurdly pointless, but that is what makes it so addictive. If death was not ever present, many would not be so drawn to it.

In a paradoxical way, death validates the life-affirming nature of climbing mountains. It is not sport, but it can become a lifestyle. It is a game of risk where what you stand to lose is far greater than whatever you could ever possibly hope to gain. Whenever you finally discover what it is that really makes it worth dying for, you find reason enough to keep doing it. For me, it is a heroic endeavor that has become an essential expression of a lifestyle I have chosen. To die while living heroically is preferable to living an ordinary unchallenged life. So I climb high to touch the place where the mountains kiss the sky. Should death claim me one day, I at least sense I will receive a heroes welcome on the other side. There is no better way to live.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

The Fundamental Issue of this Election

The bankruptcy of the globalist banking system is underway - a system that requires endless wars and endless bailouts to survive. The Democrat nominee Joe Biden has had a career in which he has been associated with this system, both as a war hawk and as a front man for Wall Street interests. On the other side, Donald Trump is committed to breaking with this bankrupt system, ending all wars and stopping the bailouts. It has been the fundamental issue of his presidency since the beginning. There are many interests aligned with the status quo that have a vested interest in continuing things the way they are, which has been the driving force behind the agenda to remove Trump from office one way or the other. If one really wants to know what this election is about, just follow the money. Who benefits most by maintaining the status quo? That would be Wall Street, the banking industry, and politicians. And at whose expense? That would be the electorate that works for a living. That is all one needs to know to make a choice.

Free Will

There are people that say they can accomplish something, then there are those that say they can't. Both are usually right. We are that...