From medication to recreational and spiritual substances, drugs offer us respite from pain, open opportunities for mental exploration, and escape from – or into – altered psychological states. They are our most widely available formal and informal implements for tweaking our mental condition. Consider the cold beer after a hard day at work, the joint before putting the needle on the record, the midday espresso, the proverbial cigarette break,
As an academic - a researcher and senior lecturer at a university in the UK - people are often surprised by my unorthodox views on the nature of life, and of the world. For example, when I mention to colleagues that I’m open-minded about the possibility of some form of life after death, or that I believe in the possibility of paranormal phenomena such as telepathy or pre-cognition, they look at me as if I’ve told them I’m going to give up academia and become a truck driver.
You are made of energy that is constantly vibrating. This energy is changeable and transformative. It is amazing how our body, mind and soul has the ability to heal and change. Watching people change, heal and transform has been one of the most humbling and exciting experiences of my life.
Buddhism explains the profound truths of life. But it also provides an immensely practical method for overcoming obstacles and transforming oneself. It can be applied to every area of your existence: family, work, relationships, health. And it can be applied by anyone. Each and every human being contains the inherent capacity to be a Buddha
Blessing is a way of sending unconditional love, peace, healing, goodness to a person or a situation, or simply seeing them bathed in that love. Blessing isn’t associated with any religious denominations. It can be practiced by anyone, and I have an atheist friend who purchased my first edition of The Gentle Art of Blessing, and even gave copies away!
In the years after Jesus was crucified at Calvary, the story of his life, death and resurrection was not immediately written down. The experiences of disciples like Matthew and John would have been told and retold at many dinner tables and firesides, perhaps for decades, before anyone recorded them for posterity.
The heart chakra is where matter and spirit meet. It marks the halfway point, with three chakras below and three above. This is a very important chakra indeed, as it’s our center of love and connection. Here you move into a greater awareness and love flows from you. You are peaceful, joyful, and compassionate. Your actions are no longer self-serving but are motivated by helping others overcome suffering.
In Australia, about one in six adults practise meditation, while one in ten practise yoga. People often turn to yoga or meditation as a way to to take time out and manage the stress of their day-to-day lives. Stress is common, and ongoing stress can contribute to the onset of a range of psychological issues, such as depression and anxiety. Meditation and yoga have been shown to reduce people’s self-reported levels of stress. This is likely due, at least in part, to the effects that meditation and yoga have on the brain’s stress response system.
When purpose and pleasure are brought together work becomes play. Every bit of work done in this spirit strengthens the man who does it. It is recreative as well as creative.
New research illuminates how some men and boys who are contemplating suicide are finding emotional support in an unexpected place: Reddit. Responses to those posts often contained gendered language of their own, like, “Hey, bro, I’ve been through that before,” or, “What’s bothering you, man?” Sometimes referred to as the “front page of the internet,” Reddit is a social news aggregation and discussion website that’s especially popular among young adult males.
If anything seems self-evident in human culture, it’s the widespread presence of religion. People do ‘religious’ stuff all the time; a commitment to gods, myths and rituals has been present in all societies. These practices and beliefs are diverse, to be sure, from Aztec human sacrifice to Christian baptism, but they appear to share a common essence. So what could compel the late Jonathan Zittell Smith, arguably the most influential scholar of religion of the past half-century, to declare in his bookImagining Religion: From Babylon to Jonestown (1982) that ‘religion is solely the creation of the scholar’s study’, and that it has ‘no independent existence apart from the academy’?
Spiritual creativity is a way of life, a way of wholeness. It is a path of integrity. Integrity entails not just a few beliefs or specific acts, but an attitude that we adopt and practice in our everyday lives...an ongoing process that can bring you much joy.
A story about the "Shining One" who explains the reason behind human cruelties and struggle: "Below me the hills and valleys were thick with humans, and the moon swung low that I might see what they did."
Where do we go between births? One can look at this a different way and see birth as a death—a dying to the world of light, a suppression of those memories. Which is our true home? Which is the real going out: our visits to earth or our visits to the world of light?
The awe-filled exclamation of Apple’s Steve Jobs — “Oh, wow! Oh, wow! Oh, wow!” — is an example of the intensified language we hear at the threshold and is true to the personality of the inspired innovator. Chaz Ebert, wife of celebrity critic Roger Ebert, shared a detailed account of her husband’s last words, in Esquire in 2013.
Tahlequah made headlines around the world as she carried the body of her dead calf at the surface of the water, sometimes on her head, sometimes in her mouth, for at least 10 days, in a heartbreaking “tour of grief”, as one of the foremost experts on her pod and her family, Ken Balcomb of the Whale Research Foundation, called it.
New Jersey’s first Sikh attorney general, Gurbir Singh Grewal, was a target of disparaging remarks recently.
A lot of what we've been taught by well-meaning parents, teachers, and clergy, is not conducive to self-realization. We've been taught how to fit in, get by and do what we're told. That's fine for children. But there comes a time in everyone's life when you have to start thinking for yourself.
The old lower reptilian brain is designed to keep you from being eaten by a tiger. The higher brain does the opposite, it turns on your body’s ability to rejuvenate and feel a sense of inner calm and meaning. That feeling of well-being is meant to be your natural state.
For many non-Muslims, the fast food carts that line the streets of New York City and San Francisco are their primary point of contact with halal foods.
People don’t die in the same way that they used to. In the past, a relative, friend, partner would pass away, and in time, all that would be left would be memories and a collection of photographs.
Compassion is not a thought or a sentimental feeling, but is rather a movement of the heart. Compassion is born out of lovingkindness. But we may get distracted, we forget, we get caught up in something else, or we confuse another feeling for the state of compassion.
Claims about supernatural phenomena, including weeping statues, have historically been common in Catholicism.
Most religious people think their morality comes from their religion. And deeply religious people often wonder how atheists can have any morality at all.
Have you ever suddenly and inexplicably felt depressed or irritable when just moments before you'd felt fine? That happens to all of us from time to time. The next time it happens, take a moment to remember what occurred just prior to your shift in emotions. What did you tell yourself about the comment or situation that made you feel bad?
Identity can compel you to reject the truth – even when you have evidence proving it. We see this today with the US political establishment: Trump supporters can look at two photos of his inauguration and say the largely empty Mall is full.
Breath is the foundation of everything, and everything begins with breath. Breath is the true barometer by which to measure your mental, physical, and emotional states: levels of anxiety, fitness, tightness, ease, or stress. The quality of your breath indicates how balanced and aligned the different systems of your body are at any given time.
Who or what grows our fingernails and beats our heart even as we sleep? What is this force that keeps the planets in place and hurls our world through the galaxy at a breathtaking speed? Spirit is what I have chosen to call the formless, invisible energy...
When a family member or a friend passes away, we often find ourselves reflecting on the question “where are they now?” As mortal beings, it is a question of ultimate significance to each of us.
Hiking is a near-perfect combination of elements known to relax us, raise our alertness, elevate our self-esteem, and physically prepare us for true rest afterward.
How you breathe reflects your self-esteem. How you breathe directly correlates to your enjoyment and satisfaction in life. If you breathe deeply, you imbibe of life and what it has to offer. If you are a shallow breather, perhaps you are not confident and feeling safe.
Surrendering doesn't mean you don't have to make plans. You do. I call this doing my homework -- I do my best to look at the situation, then I make one or two or three plans, and then I wait to see what the Divine has to say about all this.
Despite the seeming explosion of meditation in modern culture, there seems to be a lot of confusion about what it is, being used interchangeably for thinking, daydreaming or contemplating on a particular issue. With lack of a cohesive understanding about what meditation is, it can naturally lead to confusion about how to practice it and what it is really supposed to do.
On June 21, on International Yoga Day, people took out their yoga mats and practiced sun salutations or sat in meditation. Yoga may have originated in ancient India, but today is practiced all over the world.
Americans have debated what it means to be religious in politics throughout American history. Because a wide majority of Americans have claimed some form of Christian belief, these debates focused on Christianity. And they continue today.
Our identity, or ego, is the aspect of ourselves that attempts to control and plan our present and future experience. But as we all know, no matter how hard you try to control life, it somehow has a way of changing those plans.
Are you stressed? Are you so busy getting to the future that the present is reduced to a means of getting there? Stress is caused by being "here" but wanting to be "there," or being in the present but wanting to be in the future. It's a split that tears you apart inside.
While driving home one day, I noticed that someone had posted some cardboard signs along the roadside, leading guests to a party on my street. At every important choice point, there was a sign. It occurred to me that this is how Spirit gives us guidance -- we get signs when we need them...
There is a huge tendency to have way too much going on inside our minds, at the same time. Hundreds of thoughts and decisions about various things are all vying for our attention. There's also memory...
As anyone knows who’s cared for an elderly parent, it’s not easy. It’s an unquestionably sacred and transformative task, but it can also be extremely difficult. The demands placed on caregivers are huge.
What will Heaven be like? Perhaps not surprisingly, competing images abound.
Think of a problem or challenge that you may be experiencing at this time. Where did it originate? Out of a belief in two powers. We grew up with this belief. As children, we had battles to fight, pains to alleviate, losses to compensate for, and...
A little stress around exam time can be a good thing, as it motivates you to put in the work. But sometimes stress levels can get out of hand, particularly at the end of an academic year.
The biggest trap in the world to fall into is that of making careless and cruel comments about others. It is difficult not to jump in and fan the fire with our own critical take on another. It is equally as difficult to ...
In the 1950s, scholars worried that, thanks to technological innovations, Americans wouldn’t know what to do with all of their leisure time. However, modern life seems to encourage acceleration for the sake of acceleration – to what end?
The kind of Christianity that makes headlines today is the Mike Pence brand – conservative and aligned with the United States Republican party – leaving many people to believe, including progressive Christians, the religion is politically irredeemable.
Are you experiencing a lag in your spiritual life? Have you been practicing for a long time and consider yourself a spiritual veteran, but are lacking in enthusiasm? Are you new to meditation, but can’t seem to commit to a regular practice?
I didn’t believe in reincarnation when I was a child, having been brought up in a household with a father who was a physicist, but I often had private usual episodes, such as out of body experiences and clairvoyant visions.
A peaceful and relaxed mind is a prerequisite to meaningful meditation. Breathing techniques as they are taught in Tibetan tradition are millennia-old methods with great contemporary appeal because they harmonize body and soul quickly and effectively. Breathing brings about life!
Preliminary findings from a study conducted with business students at Simon Fraser University show that even 10 minutes of classroom meditation can gradually increase students’ levels of physical, mental and emotional awareness.
Without doubt, there is great value in spirituality that emphasizes and supports withdrawal from society. But in our time, with its special needs, we require a spirituality of intense involvement and radical engagement with the world. It is in the real world that awakening...
To experience timelessness, you need to focus intently on the moment at hand. You cannot allow your mind to wander over events of the past or wallow in deep concern over the future.
In Buddhist practice we must protect our inner Buddha. We must harden ourselves as targets by doing a survey of our vulnerabilities. We must get extremely personal with ourselves and ask some tough questions about our lives. We must find where our weaknesses lie, and identify what and who are threats to them.
Sicilian priest and long-time exorcist Father Benigno Palilla recently told Vatican Radio that requests for exorcisms had tripled in the past few years.
Dying is changing. It used to be quick and unexpected for most, due to infection or trauma. Now it comes to us, in general, when we are older – caused by chronic medical conditions such as heart, kidney or lung disease, diabetes or dementia.
In the three-month period following a spouse’s death, widows and widowers are more likely to exhibit risk factors linked to cardiovascular illness and death, according to a new study.
The word spirit, from the Latin spiritus, means “breath” and is also associated with “light.” Anything that interrupts the breath weakens the life force, diminishing our light. When we hold our breath, we obstruct our ability to see, be, and respond to life. Our spirit, our breath, and our light are inseparable.
It is fair to say that many folks today are abandoning traditional religion in favor of a deeper, more contemplative spiritual life. Mysticism is becoming more mainstream, and religious dogma is less likely to be accepted without question.
Everyone works with people they like -- and with people they dislike. We dislike some of them intensely. Seldom is there the luxury of working only with people who are friends or who are in total agreement with us. Since conflict cannot be totally eliminated, it is important to learn how to deal with conflicting wants and needs.
If I'm having difficulty opening my mind to a new perspective, I often find it helpful to look at how much value I'm placing on my old ways of seeing. Sometimes we invest very heavily in our old perspectives, without even knowing it. On one level, we want our minds to be healed...
Run through as large an inventory as you can of the things that you would like to define your life. Then make the shift in your imagination from an "I am not" or "I am hoping to become" to "I am". Beginning with your inner dialogue, simply change the words that define your concept of yourself.
When I came to the United States, people did not seem to know very much about Buddhism. We Tibetans realized that it would be beneficial to teach and explain the dharma. We began to talk to people about how to create peace within their heart and peace within the world. We taught how to move beyond suffering.
Although I am primarily a Christian, a Catholic contemplative, my heart and life are now totally open to wherever and whenever mystical graces take me. My inner life has been the drama of the divine mystery communicating its presence and love to me, and saturating my being.
Although the majority of people may well wish things were different, the fact is that we live in a dual world here on Earth. Our lives subsume day and night, light and dark, good and evil, hot and cold, male and female, light and heavy, yin and yang, above and below, feast and famine…
When you do a meditation on compassion, reflect upon the manner in which sentient beings undergo the experience of suffering. First, in order to have a very strong force of compassion, visualize a being undergoing active sufferings. For example, you could vividly and clearly visualize...
To empower your life, you have to seize responsibility for it. You cannot wait and hope that God or yet another 'miracle pill' will somehow solve the problems of pain, dissatisfaction, and depression. You will not change your state by doing nothing about it or by blaming other people for your pain.
The hardest thing that we ever have to learn, even though Jesus said it 2,000 years ago, is to love your neighbor as yourself. Most of us don't have a problem loving other people; the problem we have is loving ourselves. We equate that with selfishness.
If you were to observe yourselves very carefully and observe the choices that you allow yourselves to make in your existence, you would observe the limits to which you yourselves choose to impose on the joy of your existence. You would observe the degree to which you limit your joy of existence.
We usually think that meditation is done sitting, but it can also be beneficial to practice walking meditation. In this case, walking with the eyes open, one is more mindful of the outside world. The purpose of a walking meditation is to cultivate awareness, and to use the very act of walking as a focus of your concentration thereby allowing you to have a wakeful presence.
Buddhists believe that all our actions are dependent on our state of mind. A mind that is not well controlled is liable to cause a great deal of harm to itself and others, while a peaceful mind creates a comfortable atmosphere for itself and everyone around.
I grew up in a Christian home, where a photo of Jesus hung on my bedroom wall. I still have it. It is schmaltzy and rather tacky in that 1970s kind of way, but as a little girl I loved it. In this picture, Jesus looks kind and gentle, he gazes down at me lovingly. He is also light-haired, blue-eyed, and very white.
This year, one of the most essential holy days in the Christian calendar, Easter, coincides with perhaps the silliest of annual secular celebrations, April Fools’ Day.
In the sixteen-century, people suffered from hunger, disease, hatred, and war. "How could God allow such terrible things to happen? Perhaps," Luria suggested, "it is because God needs our help." When you see something that is broken, fix it...
The outside world, as constructed by the ego, is one gigantic multiple personality disorder. Therefore, disillusionment, or giving up on the world, is an imperative prelude to mystical awareness. American author Dan Millman, in his book Way of the Peaceful Warrior, says that disillusionment is the best thing that can happen to someone...
"According to Spinoza, "Peace is not an absence of war. It is a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, trust, and justice." Even if all weapons were to disappear from the earth that would not guarantee peace. We must actively cultivate peace as a virtue...
Meditation has been hailed as a way to boost mental health, help chronic pain, reduce stress and build a new appreciation for the world around us.
On March 17, people around the world will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by parading in green hats, sporting images of shamrocks and leprechauns
Who was Mary Magdalene? What do we know about her? And how do we know it?
It would be easy to conclude that there’s a deficit of morality in the world today. That if only people were more motivated to behave ethically, if only they made morality more prominent in their thinking, then the world would be a better place. But, I’d argue that there’s not a lack of morality in the world; there’s too much.
Stress is part of life, especially when you have a career, family, and other responsibilities. But we can’t let it control our lives. We have to preserve ourselves if we want to accomplish everything and maintain balance.
Years of ongoing shamanic and spiritual training have taught me many lessons. Perhaps the main lesson is that life is a never-ending learning process. Although we reach a certain level in our growth and development, there is always something new to learn, to experience...
While checking out at a grocery store I noticed that a cashier had an unusual tattoo on her forearm. “What is that tattoo?” I asked Ciani. She smiled. “It’s a copy of the EKG of my grandmother’s last heartbeat.” Suddenly the checkout process faded to background. I wanted to hear more.
Maybe that is the problem with the world. Everyone is treating their neighbors (whether individuals or countries) the same way they treat themselves. In other words, if you criticize yourself, pollute your body, and don't take time to respect your own needs -- then your "neighbor" is in for a rough time.
As we open to the full range of experiences within ourselves, we become aware of what we perceive in each moment, no longer denying some feelings while clinging to others. By coming to know our own pain, we build a bridge to the pain of others. Knowing that someone will suffer if we perform a harmful action or say a hurtful word, we find we do these things less and less.
The important thing to remember is that our sense of self-awareness is uniquely human, and it allows us to observe our own brain, to have mastery over it, and to exercise and improve it. As with all things, the search for meaning improves with practice, which eventually leads to an even richer and more meaningful life.
Fasting the mind is easier said than done. It requires immense discipline and a transformation of lifestyle. But paradoxically it is not hard at all; it is the easiest thing in the world to accomplish because your true nature is an empty liberated mind. This ancient art of healing brings you back to the present moment, where you’ve always been in reality...
Life is a prayer in the sense that it is a continuous request to the universe. God understands our desires not just through the occasional utterances that we call "prayers" in the traditional sense, but through every thought we think, every word we speak, and everything we do.
I am astonished and delighted at how the universe works. I am learning more and more about how to live in what I call “The Flow of Grace.” For me, this is learning to allow, rather than push; to accept and receive, rather than hold myself closed out of fear; to expand, rather than contract; and to...
Predicting how long a patient will survive is critically important for them and their families to guide future planning, yet notoriously difficult for doctors to predict accurately. While many patients request this information, others do not wish to know, or are incapable of knowing due to...
Although the Voice for God is always present and available, God will not speak to us until we have invited Him/Her to enter our awareness. This is the first step in aligning ourselves with our spiritual power. It is the only step that we must take on our own, in that it is the step of inviting and calling upon the Holy Spirit, Voice for God, or Universal Mind.
In Africa, Zulu elders teach that there is vital significance in the appearance of the White Lions in Timbavati at this time. As with all the other White Spirit Animals, the White Spirit Lions have come to warn us of dramatic Earth changes, encouraging us to work together in these perilous times.
It seems so obvious that no one should die alone that we never talk about it, but people do often die when they are alone.
A funeral sometimes results in introspection about our own mortality. Throughout that irksome journey, we discussed our feelings about life and death. We shared experiences, sorrowful personal losses and our mundane philosophies on death and dying, not expecting it to be any more than a normal reaction to the passing of a family member.
The purpose of meditation is to slow down so that we can see clearly into the nature of the mind, making it possible for us to become fully present in each moment, to gain understanding of the way things truly are. It can give rise to the deep sense of calm that comes from really knowing something for yourself.
It was three days after I met with her that I realized Grandmother Twylah Hurd Nitsch is a small woman. Her fathomless eyes, her great good humor and the magnitude of the peace that effortlessly flows from her heart convey a physical presence that reaches far beyond her diminutive frame. She is warm beyond measure, mercurial and deeply connected to the Earth...
We carry with us into our future an extraordinary and enormous potential. We have all the equipment that we need to face our breathtaking tomorrows. We have the technology, and the ingenuity to create even greater...
We may think we have learned to tell time, but actually we are allowing what we have made of time to tell us how to lead our lives. The next time someone asks you, 'Do you have the time?' consider it a profoundly important question. Don't look at your wrist. Look into your heart and mind and translate the question to 'Are you paying attention to your life?'
Visualizing, that is, creating pictures or images in your mind, works effectively on three aspects of our being: our physical bodies, our emotions, and our spiritual or soul level. Your body will believe the images that your mind focuses on, and here’s why...
Buddhist teachings are often summarized in terms of the "three principle aspects of the path": renunciation, compassion, and the wisdom realizing emptiness. The first step on the path of renunciation is to begin searching for happiness within. Renouncing the world does not mean rejecting the world...
A constant complaint in our unpredictable world is that we live in an age of distraction. I am quick to label students who stare at their phones in my class distracted...