9 ways that dogs tell you they love you

Dogs have lived alongside us for thousands of years, earning the reputation as “man’s best friend” for good reason. But while some people may be quick to dismiss a dog’s devotion as simply a relationship based on need, experts say that’s just not true.

“Dogs have developed the strongest ability of all animals on Earth to form affectionate bonds with humans,” says Dr. Frank McMillan D.V.M., director of well-being studies at Best Friends Animal Society, an organization helping adopters find loving companions. “Dogs don’t just love us — they need us, but not just for food and physical care. They need us emotionally. This is why the attachment bond a dog feels for his human is one of deep devotion and is, as has been often stated, unconditional.”

But how exactly does a dog say, “I love you”? Read on to find out.

Your dog wants to be close to you.

If your dog is always in your lap, leaning against you or following you room to room, it’s clear your pooch is attached to you.

“A dog’s affection is most evident in their desire to be physically close to you. This can sometimes appear to be a clinginess, and it isn’t always easy to distinguish healthy positive clinginess from insecurity, but in both cases your dog is deeply attached to you,” McMillan says.

Your dog gazes into your eyes.

When you and your pup share a long look, your dog is “hugging you with his eyes,” according to Brian Hare, a professor at Duke University who studies canine cognition, and research shows that this “hug” has a profound effect on both man and animal.

When scientists at Japan’s Azabu University took urine samples from dogs and their owners before and after 30 minutes of interacting, they found that the pairs that spent the most time gazing into each others’ eyes showed significantly higher levels of the hormone oxytocin, the same hormonal response that bonds us to human infants. “It’s an incredible finding that suggests that dogs have hijacked the human bonding system,” Hare told Science.

Does your pup jump up, wag his tail and barely seem able to contain contain his excitement when you arrive home? If so, that’s a sure sign of affection.

“This becomes even more obvious when your dog learns, like Pavlov’s dogs, that some sound signals your upcoming arrival, like the garage opener or sound of your car, and they show excitement upon hearing that sound,” McMillan says.

Your dog sleeps with you.

Dogs are pack animals that often huddle together at night for warmth and protection, so when your dog snuggles up with you, it means he considers you to be part of the family. And these canine cuddles may even help you get a better night’s sleep.

You are your dog’s safe haven.

“Much affection in animals and humans is based on how much you can be relied on as a source of comfort and support in scary situations,” McMillan says. “If your dog seeks your comfort during thunderstorms, car rides, vet visits or other frightening occurrences, then you are seeing another aspect of her attachment bond to you.”

Your dog ‘reads’ you and reacts accordingly.

A close bond with your dog may enable him to sense your mood and respond with affection. “Many dogs who sense that you are upset or not feeling well will demonstrate their affection by spending even more time by your side. They might give you licks or rest their head or paws on some part of your body,” McMillan says.

If you’ve ever yawned after witnessing another person’s yawn, you’re aware how contagious the act can be. This contagious yawning is unique to only a few species, and man’s best friend is one of them.

Researchers have even found that not only are dogs more likely to yawn after watching familiar people yawn, but also that dogs will yawn when hearing only the sound of a loved one’s yawn. So if your canine companion yawns in response to your yawns, odds are good that his affection for you enables him to empathize with you.

Your dog focuses on you.

It’s not unusual for dogs to delight in positive attention from virtually anyone, but just because your pooch loves on everyone, doesn’t mean he doesn’t love you most. Pay attention to how your dog acts when in a room full of people. If he stays focused on you or ignores others while awaiting your return, you know you hold a special place in your dog’s heart.

Your dog forgives you.

“Part of the affectionate feelings your dog has for you shows up in their willingness to forgive you for things you do that make them feel bad, such as raising your voice, or misplacing your frustration on your dog by ignoring them,” McMillan says. “Forgiveness is your dog’s attempt to maintain the loving bond they share with you.”

However, even if your canine best friend doesn’t show affection in these ways, it certainly doesn’t mean your pooch doesn’t love you. Just as some people can care deeply without expressing their feelings, so can your pup.

“Be sure not to go through the list above and think that because your dog shows very few or even none of these things, he or she doesn’t love you. Odds are, love is very much there. After all, we’re talking about a dog here,” McMillan says.

And how can you show your dog some love? Engage in playtime, take a long walk, bake some yummy dog treats, or give your pup a homemade toy. Above all, McMillan says the best thing you can do is simply give your dog more of you because that’s what man’s best friend wants most of all.

credit:Laura Moss

5 ways being thankful can improve your life

Some Thanksgiving traditions are best in small doses, like pie binges, chair naps and televised parade coverage. But thanks to a group of scientists at the University of California-Berkeley, the holiday’s namesake spirit of gratitude is quickly outgrowing its November context, fed by research that points to wide-ranging health benefits from a steady diet of thankfulness.

The Greater Good Science Center, based at UC-Berkeley, has been studying “the psychology, sociology and neuroscience of well-being” for 12 years, including a recent study on the science of gratitude. That project aims to explain how feeling thankful affects human health, eventually yielding evidence-based practices to be used in schools, workplaces and medical settings.

“Because so much of human life is about giving, receiving and repaying, gratitude is a pivotal concept for our social interactions,” UC-Davis psychologist and gratitude expert Robert Emmons writes on the GGSC website. “Despite the fact that it forms the foundation of social life in many other cultures, in America, we usually don’t give it much thought — with a notable exception of one day, Thanksgiving.”

The GGSC recently awarded $10,000 grants to several research projects on gratitude (for which the recipients were surely grateful), and in 2014 will relaunch the online gratitude journal Thnx4.org. The group is also planning a public event that would “help bridge the research-practice gap.” In the meantime, here’s a closer look at some potential benefits year-round gratitude can bring:

1. Less stress, better moods

Grateful people tend to be happier, according to research cited by the GGSC. A 2003 study used a questionnaire to test “dispositional gratitude,” linking it to several measures of subjective well-being and reporting that “grateful thinking improved mood.” A 2010 study tied gratitude to reduced anxiety and depression, stating it’s “strongly related to well-being, however defined, and this link may be unique and causal.” It also noted the potential for gratitude exercises in clinical psychology.

2. Less pain, more gain

Beyond helping us exorcise anxiety, gratitude might also help us exercise. It “encourages us to exercise more and take better care of our health,” the GGSC says, and research by Emmons and University of Miami psychologist Michael McCullough suggests it contributes to a wide range of physical health benefits, including a stronger immune system, reduced disease symptoms and lower blood pressure. It can even make people “less bothered by aches and pains,” the GGSC adds.

3. Better sleep

A good night’s sleep can make anyone thankful, but a 2009 study found the reverse is true, too. Grateful people get more hours of sleep per night, fall asleep more quickly and feel more refreshed upon waking. “This is the first study to show that a positive trait is related to good sleep quality above the effect of other personality traits,” the study’s authors wrote, adding it’s “also the first to show … gratitude is related to sleep and to explain why this occurs, suggesting future directions for research and novel clinical implications.” As the GGSC puts it, “to sleep more soundly, count blessings, not sheep.”

4. Stronger relationships

Expressing gratitude to a relationship partner — whether a close friend, colleague or significant other — “enhances one’s perception of the relationship’s communal strength,” according to a 2010 study. Feeling thankful for a friend’s generosity or a spouse’s patience helps you appreciate the relationship’s mutual give-and-take, as long as gratitude doesn’t mutate into feelings of indebtedness. “Although indebtedness may maintain external signals of relationship engagement,” the authors of another study wrote in 2010, “gratitude had uniquely predictive power in relationship promotion, perhaps acting as a booster shot for the relationship.”

5. Resilience

Misfortune itself is rarely cause for thanks, but Emmons says a broader sense of gratitude — religious or not — comes from learning to take nothing for granted. “Our national holiday of gratitude, Thanksgiving, was born and grew out of hard times,” he writes for the GGSC. “The first Thanksgiving took place after nearly half the pilgrims died from a rough winter and year. It became a national holiday in 1863 in the middle of the Civil War and was moved to its current date in the 1930s following the Depression.” Even among war veterans with post-traumatic stress syndrome, a 2006 study found that dispositional gratitude predicted things like daily self-esteem, “daily intrinsically motivating activity” and percentage of pleasant days “over and above” the severity of PTSD.

credit:Russel Mclendon

everybody say AUM

EVERYBODY SAY A-U-M

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
The Holy Bible

In its simplified jist, the Superstring Theory states: at its’ ultimate indivisible level (all) matter is made up of wiggly energy strings that may mingle or migrate away from other strings.
And the Superstring Theory is by majority an accepted and established facticity.
Which implies that you and I and the roof under which we are right now are, essentially, at the fundamental level, made of twisted vibrating energy waves. So what is it that makes us and other things different?
It is the rate of vibration of these strings.
Everything in the universe is made up of pure pulsating energy vibrating at its’ own personal frequency, called resonant frequency. (A secret of matter which makes up one of the seven Hermetic Principles: everything is in motion; everything vibrates.)
As Pythagoras put it, everything from atoms to celestial bodies produces sound vibrations. There is an underlying harmonic principle behind everything.
Even as we sit still and silent, our cells are buzzing a frequency as our strings vibrate.
But as human species, our hearing is limited to the audibility range of 20-20,000 vibrations (20 Hz-20 kHz). Which is merely 2% of available sounds, the rest being cut off from our ears as sub or ultra sonic.
Sound effects over matter and the environment have been proven by many:
Ernst Chladni-German Scientist and father of modern acoustics provided visual proof of sound vibrations over sand, creating geometric patterns.
The Swiss Doctor, Hans Jenny, who carried out cymatic (wave phenomenon) experiments.
Dr. Masaru Emoto, Japanese scientist, who proved how different positive sounds create the most unique geometric water crystals.
The French Bio-energitician Fabian Maman, who discovered that the benign human voice was capable of detonating even rogue cancer cells, destabilizing them and energizing healthy ones.
In fact even as far back as 1665 in recent history, the Dutch scientist Christian Huygens discovered the phenomenon of Entrainment – synchronizing an object to a particular vibration- by means of one powerful object upgrading the vibration of another lesser vibrating object.
Hence, it is a proven fact that :
Different frequencies produce different sounds.
These sounds have different form correlates (as seen by oscilloscopes).
Sound energy has the power to alter molecular structure.

Of Ages Past
The sound A-U-M is not a copyright of any religious denomination. It predates religion- is as old or as new as the eternal Dharma that runs the web of the wide, wide world. It is an existential sound.
But credit must be given where it is due and as regards this, full credit goes to the Pre-Vedic Rishis or sages of yore, who , while surfing in mystic ecstasy the quantum non-local hyperspace, heard this Anahat Nad or Unstruck Sound.
Unstruck- as it was not produced by two objects striking each other.
As they abided in the primal energy-pool of existence, they heard this trinity of sounds ringing out clearly; a trinity that arose from the uber-dynamic, silent-stillness of the Absolute Unity. (Or as the Hindus put it simply- the Brahman)
A-U-M.
These three sounds rose up from beyond the boundaries of existence.
And just as there are three primary colors in nature that give rise to all subsequent ones; these three are primary sounds, which in various permutations give rise to all others.
From that supra-conscious plane, the rishis brought this arch string sound to the gross planet for the benefit of all sentient creatures, so that one would anchor in it, and thereby elevate to the divine reality of which this was a living symbol. They gave us Nada Yoga, or Yoga of Sound.
Sanskrit has never been a linguistic language. It was always a phonetic, sound-driven means of communication, intended to cause the cells to beat at a higher frequency, to reach a higher level of consciousness.
And since it was known even then as it is now, that sound travels almost five times faster in water than through air, the physical human apparatus was deemed an optimum conductor of sound energy, 70% of it being constituted by water.
This triad is pregnant with the mysteries of creation and all existential truths. Since it is existential, it is unbound by time, meaning it contains the past, the present, the future in a continuum of eternity.
A-U-M can respectively mean the waking, dreaming and dreamless state. And the fourth element- the silence that follows the three, signifies the Turiya- the state of superconscience.
The ancient Indian text Kathopanishad states: Whoever knows this, obtains whatever he wishes.
It has also been said : He who knows this becomes the gratifier of desires.
Kindly note, the stress is on knows, as opposed to chants, repeats, drones…etc.
And why so?
Because this esoteric triple sound attunes us to the secrets of matter on the physical axis (knowing which one can have mastery over) and attunes us with the higher cosmic reality to which we are all connected (not just random acts of factory production after all, eh).
Where A= creator, U= preserver, M= destroyer.
It is the power behind all and everything, therefore, it liberates.
It has aptly been called the Pranava in Hinduism, as the vibrations swim discreetly throughout the vital breath, prana.
But it has been erroneously mistaken to be a word- which it is not.
It is an intonation, one literally has to fall into tune with it. In it.
And in so doing, we feel each and every cell of ours pulsating actively, for therein we are in harmony with the cosmos.

The Power and the Glory
Since the universe is infinite, each of us- I/You/He/She/It, are the centers of it actually.
And as all sounds emanate out from a point, in attuning to this primal vibration, we too become centers of creation. The very source itself. The heartbeat of existence. That’s one more secret uncovered.
By default, any mantra needs intrinsically to be without any meaning. It needs intrinsically to be just pure sound, that which invokes a feeling.
Therefore, A-U-M.
It is added as a catalytic prefix to all Buddhist and Hindu mantras, lest they render ineffectual.
Just as all sounds have a form corresponding, they have a “feeling” correlate as well. Thus, mantras do away with the thinking process and incite only feeling. A mantra will (gradually) open up a thought-free zone wherein only feelings prevail, making it hospitable for the higher consciousness to descend.
New Age Gurus like Osho suggest that A-U-M is something we strive to become, not monotonously chant x times. Mindless number-oriented repetition only induces sheer ennui, lethargy and well, instant sleep. Not worthy consequences of so omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent a mantra.
The slower we take it, the deeper we move in into innerspace, and the more alert/aware we are, we find it permeating our cellular level, entering our heart chakra. And then, the purpose has been fulfilled.
We need not make any more effort here on, we feel it! We hear it! We be it!! Ultimate!!
But we must start where we are now, here, (which is technically nowhere). So we must first intone it to get anywhere.

Benefits of A-U-M
ჱ Intoning the mantra allows a freeflow of natural pranic energy throughout the body, thereby removing energy blockages, resolving stress and tension.
ჱ Entrainment of the body at the atomic level increases resonance and wholeness. The cells heal and regenerate on their own, regaining their purity.
ჱ A realignment and rebalance of spiritual/emotional/physical bodies takes place. As it clears and empties the mind of toxicity (translate as thoughts), there is an ascension of energy to the higher chakras or planes of consciousness.
ჱ Alpha and theta brainwaves are impacted and stimulated to therapeutically decelerate the rate of respiration, heartbeat and bp. An overall peaceful calm ensues; anxiety, insomnia, indigestion, depression, trauma and pain are all holistically dealt with.
ჱ Diseases occur when there is disharmony in the body. The purifying effect of the tri-sound is a serious disease deterrent.
ჱ Human sound therapy has been seen and proven to be effective in treatment of life threatening cancer and even being used as a palliative cure.

By listening and/or sounding the holy A-U-M, one is adding to the already potent pool of cosmic vibration, an energy system that has been since space-time energized by all those whose rhythms were one with the universe. We can aggrandize that rich tradition by personal application, both for self-gain and the larger good.
For everything we say or hear has an effect on us, others, the environment.
So every time you and I get that natural urge to spit out our favorite four letter word, let’s become a tad bit aware and breathe in these three syllables instead (and tune into the famed Pythagorean music of the spheres).
Feel it now-
Everybody Say A-U-M.

Credit:KATYAYANI CHOWDHRY
KATYAYANI CHOWDHRY IS A FREELANCE/AUTHOR.
HER DEBUT TRILOGY IN SPECULATIVE FICTION, SHUNYATA- BEING FEMININE IS DIVINE, IS NOW AVAILABLE on Amazom

Yoga:the breastcancer recovery key

Breast cancer survivors have a lot to think about when it comes to their recovery. There are often suggestions from doctors on what kind of food to eat, or how often to exercise in order to help reduce the chance of recurrence. But for breast cancer survivors, sometimes just the thought of exercise can make them want to sit down and rest. A cancer survivor is often weak from the treatments he or she has gone through.

Consistently, cancer survivors’ average fitness levels are about 30 percent lower than those of sedentary people without a cancer history. That’s why I think the findings of a new study that I just completed will help these patients. The results, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, show that yoga is beneficial in many ways to breast cancer survivors. Yoga provides graded exercise that can be tailored for individuals who have been sedentary, and the postures can be modified to accommodate functional limitations.

It is widely known that yoga benefits your health. Many people who practice yoga experience gains in flexibility, feel more relaxed, sleep better, have stronger muscles and also might even see a drop in their blood pressure. What my colleagues and I at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center concluded in our study is that inflammation for cancer patients also dropped when they routinely practiced yoga. [Yoga Holds Benefits for Breast Cancer Survivors]

My study was a randomized, controlled trial (RCT) of 200 women who are breast cancer survivors. I compared a 12-week hatha yoga intervention with a wait-list control condition, which is a group who did not do yoga during the study. We collected questionnaires and fasting blood samples at beginning, immediately post-treatment, and 3 months post-treatment — with both groups. Participants ranged in age from 27 years to 76 years old, and had completed cancer treatment within the past three years. We chose these participants who were at least two months past their surgery or last radiation treatment, whichever occurred last. Women in the yoga group participated in two 90-minute weekly sessions, while participants assigned to the wait-list control group were told to continue performing their usual activities, and to refrain from beginning any yoga practice. After their final assessment, they were offered the yoga classes, meaning everyone had the chance to join yoga after the study ended.
When we began this study, we hypothesized that participants who participated in yoga would have decreased inflammation, depressive symptoms and fatigue in contrast to those participants in the wait-list control. After reviewing the outcomes of all women in the study, we now know that our hypothesis was correct.

Immediately post-treatment, vitality was higher in the yoga group compared to the control group. At 3 months post-treatment, the yoga group’s fatigue was lower, vitality was higher, and the inflammation markers in their blood that we tested for (IL-6, TNF-α, and IL-1β — which are pro-inflammatory markers) were lower for yoga participants compared to those in the control group. What we also discovered is that the more a woman participated in yoga, the greater the benefits in fatigue, vitality and inflammation reduction.

Despite the fact that our participants’ weight did not change and our trial did not include aerobic or resistance exercise, pro-inflammatory cytokine production decreased significantly in yoga participants compared to the wait-list group. This is important, because inflammation enhances risk in many age-related diseases including heart disease and diabetes, and also increases the risks for cancer recurrence.

Another benefit of this trial was that we showed yoga can help cancer survivors get better rest. Previous studies have shown that up to 60 percent of cancer survivors report sleep problems during survivorship, a rate that is two or three times as high as similar adults without a cancer history. The problem with that is disturbed sleep elevates inflammation, as well as fatigue, and thus the improved sleep reported by yoga group participants likely contributed to the positive changes both at the beginning of the trial and through the 3-month post-treatment visit.

While our study may underestimate the entire list of potential benefits of yoga, the results show that yoga can have a significant benefit, and therefore I recommend that all breast cancer survivors consider adding it to their exercise plan.

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What is energy medicine

The term energy medicine usually refers to putative energy fields (energy that is presumed to exist). Although it can’t be measured in conventional ways, therapists or energy healers say they can see it, sense it or feel it.

Energy healing or energy medicine is based on the fundamental premise that everyone’s thoughts, emotions, beliefs and attitudes are made of energy. Therefore, if we are all infused with this life force often referred to as qi (pronounced chee), we can channel or use its power for healing.

In Chinese medicine energy is called qi; in Ayurvedic medicine it is doshas; in traditional Hindu metaphysics the word is chakras (illustrated in the photo at bottom). Therapies such as acupuncture and acupressure, reconnective healing and reiki work on these energies to restore health and well-being.

“In Chinese medicine the theory is that energy flows through 12 channels that cover your body. When you are healthy, this energy flows smoothly and your body remains in a state of balance. When you experience a physical, emotional or spiritual trauma, the energy gets disrupted, depleted or stuck,” says Tom Ingegno, a licensed acupuncturist with a masters of science in Oriental medicine and a certified animal acupuncturist in Baltimore.

Acupuncture is a form of energy medicineIf left in this state too long or if the trauma is severe enough, disease or pain manifests. “By placing needles in points along these pathways we can help restore proper flow of energy and allow the body, mind and spirit to heal itself,” says Ingegno.

“What reiki does is actually use the universal life-force in association with the qi of our own body, so it’s a combination of those two,” says Dr. Kathy Gruver, a massage therapist, reiki master and author of “Conquer your Stress with Mind/Body Techniques.”

“The great thing about reiki is I’m not using my energy, so when I put my hands on somebody, they’re not getting my bad morning, my illness, my karma; I’m a conduit. I’m a total empty vessel for the energy to flow through.”

How reiki works

To do reiki, practitioners have an attunement, which consists of a reiki master giving you reiki energy. They teach you the symbols and the hand positions and perform a ritual, which awakens your hands and allows you to perform energy healing on someone else. Gruver advises people to receive an attunement in person, never over the Internet.

“I think it’s a complete misconception that there are these special gifted people that can do it. Certainly people have gifts that are unexplainable, but reiki is not one of them; anyone can do it,” says Gruver.

During a session Gruver lays her hands on or hovers them above the part of the body she wants to heal or send energy. She also does it unconsciously when she rests her hand on her husband’s leg during a movie, for example. If he has any pain or something going on emotionally, the energy goes to where it’s needed.

The majority of people seek reiki for emotional issues, physical problems or because they are terminally ill. Reiki provides peace, comfort, healing and relaxation. Cancer patients often say it’s the only thing that helps their pain. There are some preliminary studies that suggest reiki can knit bone back together more quickly and heal wounds faster. The American Hospital Association says 15 percent of hospitals (more than 800) offer reiki in the U.S.

After a session people are relaxed. They may fall asleep, giggle or cry; it opens up many emotions. Some find it completely energizing, while others want to curl up and sleep. It’s also a powerful treatment for grief, loss and sadness.

Chakra energy centersA massage for the soul

Shani Enns, spiritual coach, energy healer and founder of www.embraceyourhumanity.com in Kansas City, grew up around energy healing. She has certificates from many modalities but says she’s practiced her own brand of energy medicine for the past 10 years.

Enns performs energy healing along with spiritual coaching and says whatever problem someone comes in with, she works to shift their beliefs, patterns and habits with both coaching and energy healing.

Some people come in with cancer, some with health problems, others with depression; many come for emotional issues. It usually goes in tandem. “People who don’t feel good physically also don’t feel good emotionally,” says Enns.

Someone once described her work as a massage for the soul.

Similar to reiki, Enns lays her hands on various parts of someone’s body such as their head, heart or belly and sends energy inward. She frequently works with entrepreneurs who are looking to manifest wealth and success in business.

During or after a session people feel buzzing, tingling, dizziness, a sense of heaviness, and may see colors, Enns says. Many feel a state of peace or nothingness. Occasionally people say they don’t feel anything other than well rested. Enns says one of the most gifted energy healers she knows doesn’t feel anything giving — or even receiving energy work. He goes on faith because his clients experience amazing effects.

Results are very individual for any type of energy work. Enns says she had a client in kidney failure who was cured and didn’t need further dialysis. She also had a client with advanced breast cancer who was comforted and benefited from pain relief. “Sometimes healing means being OK with dying,” says Enns.

There are many ways practitioners provide reiki. Some use crystals and gemstones; others play music; some chant. “If it’s too weird for you or too mainstream for you, find another practitioner,” says Gruver. Enns offers her first session free for just this reason.

Many practitioners provide distance energy work via phone or Skype, and many offer animal healing. Enns explains that practitioners of energy medicine draw energy from the endless source that the universe provides. She always comes out of energy work feeling better than before she gave it. “I feel joy, peace and bliss giving it.” People who receive energy healing often feel the same way.

credit:JenniferNelson  sources:mnn.com

What makes Zen Buddhist unique

What makes the Zen Buddhist culture unique?
A Zen Buddhist devotes a portion of every day to sitting, known as the practice of Zazen. This is a time to meditate and consider your existence in the universe. During the Zen meditation sessions I attended at USM, the instructors had you focus on slowing down your thoughts. The goal is to ultimately detach yourself from the worries and burdens of day to day life. Try and be mindful of your place in nature and determine what is essential to a happy life. I was surprised to find that Zazen is practiced with your eyes open. I always assumed that it would be easier to mediate with your eyes closed to avoid visual distractions. My instructors said to avoid concentrating on anything in particular and simply gaze at what is before you.

The Zen Buddhist culture values simplicity. It is critical for a Zen Buddhist to live a life free of unnecessary materialistic possessions. In my mediation I quickly realized how hard it is to honestly detach yourself from your normal train of thought. The key is to realize what things are truly giving you happiness, and what things could go. For a Zen Buddhist, it is much easier to accomplish the goal of mindfulness with a simplistic lifestyle.

Unlike most cultures, Zen Buddhism puts a great concentration on something as simple as breathing. During Zazen it is impossible to detach yourself from all thoughts if you are still preoccupied with breathing. I was given the instructions to breathe deeply; inhaling and exhaling through your nose. You want to let each breath come and go naturally. In my meditation I found it helpful to use your slowed breathing to help slow down your mind. Each inhale envision the air gathering all the unneeded thoughts in your mind; which are then released with every exhale.

A Zen Buddhist shows more outward respect to others and to the world. At each mediation I attended, we began by facing each other and bowing. Zen Buddhism values selflessness and respect for others, bowing is a sign of respect. I was surprised by the fact You then bow to your cushion out of respect for your place in the universe. The extreme example of this is Zen Buddhist monk, whose entire life is devoted to teaching and serving others.

Zen Buddhism is a unique philosophy because of the importance it places on the individual. They do not waste their time trying to determine the universal way to reach enlightenment. I have great respect for a Zen Buddhist who recognizes that while they may have found peace of mind, what worked them will not work for everyone. We all have different needs and find happiness in different ways. The goal is determine what is essential to your own life, not to anyone else’s life.
Sources
http://www.ibiblio.org/zen/faq.html

12 Essential Rules to Live More Like a Zen Monk

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7 reasons why smiling makes you healthier

Smiling happens without much thought. When you watch a friend do something silly or embarrassing, you smirk. When a police officer lets you off without a ticket, you grin. And when you are recognized for your top performance in academics or at work, you beam. Smiling is a very natural response that shares our happiness with others.

But did you know that smiling also triggers activity in your brain? Yep, there’s a serious mind-body connection there, in your left frontal cortex to be exact, which is—not surprisingly—the area of your brain that registers happiness.

How often do you smile in a day? Do you smile when you meet new people? When you see your friends? Around your co-workers? How about your significant other? Your face has 44 muscles in it that allow you make more than 5,000 different types of expressions, many of which are smiles. Read on for seven reasons why smiling is good for you, your health and your social life!

7 Things to Smile About

1. Smiling can make you happy (even when you’re not).
Remember that mind-body connection we were just talking about? Well, it turns out that the simple act of smiling sends a message to your brain that you’re happy. And when you’re happy, your body pumps out all kinds of feel-good endorphins. This reaction has been studied since the 1980s and has been proven a number of times. In 1984, an article in the journal Science showed that when people mimic different emotional expressions, their bodies produce physiological changes that reflect the emotion, too, such as changes in heart and breathing rate. Another German study found that people felt happy just by holding a small pen clenched in their teeth, imitating a smile.

Just remember that the research goes both ways. When the people in the first study frowned, they felt less happy, and in the German study, people who held a pen in their protruding lips, imitating a pout, felt unhappy. So the next time you feel sad or upset, try smiling. It just might make your body—and therefore you—feel better.

2. Smiling can make others happy.
“When you’re smilin’, the whole world smiles with you.” Ever heard that song, made famous by Louis Armstrong? Well, it’s true. Research shows that smiling is contagious. Ever been around someone who just had something fantastic happen to him or her? Isn’t it almost impossible not to feel good, too? Studies show that something as simple as seeing a friend smile can activate the muscles in your face to make that same expression, without you even being aware that you are doing it. Crazy, right? But remember that this, too, can be for better or for worse. You know the expression “misery loves company”? Frowns act just like smiles, just with a negative reaction, so choose to smile and watch the world smile back!

3. Smiling makes you more attractive.
Ever wonder why are we always asked to smile in photos? Because people usually look their best—and happiest—when smiling. According to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, 96 percent of American adults believe an attractive smile makes a person more appealing to members of the opposite sex. So the next time you are about to ask someone on a date, smile. It’ll make them feel happier (see No. 2), and you’ll already be more attractive in his or her eyes!

4. Smiling can help you de-stress.
The next time you’re stressed about work or realize that your favorite jeans feel a little snug, don’t freak out. Take a few deep breaths and smile! Smiling may help to reduce symptoms associated with anxiety. When that smile signals to your brain that you’re feeling happy (even though you’re not really feeling happy…yet), your body will usually slow its breathing and heart rate.

Reducing stress is so important for health, too, as it can lower blood pressure, improve digestion and regulate blood sugar. Note that this works during workouts, too! If you’re having a hard time getting through that last rep or getting those final 5 minutes in on the treadmill, smiling can do wonders!

5. Smiling can help you land a job.
If you’re about to go on a job interview, you may think that your appearance is just about wearing nice clothes. Wrong! You can’t just wear that suit; you have to wear it with a smile. In a study published in the December 2009 issue of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, people looked at full-body photographs of 123 people they had never me

t. The people in the photos had one of two expressions: neutral (think your passport photo) or a smile. And guess what? When observers saw the photos of smiling people, they were more likely to think that the person in the photo was likeable, confident, conscientious and stable. Sound like traits most companies want in an employee, right? So the next time you’re dressing to impress, make sure to take that beautiful, natural smile with you!

6. Smiling can lead to laughter.
Have you ever laughed without smiling? It’s pretty impossible to do. And it’s funny how a smile here and a smile there with friends can turn into a whole fit of hysterical laughter. Numerous studies have been done on the health benefits of laughing, including how it acts like a mini workout that burns calories and works the abs. Laughter also helps blood flow, lowers blood sugar levels, reduces stress and improves sleep. It may also raise the level of infection-fighting antibodies in the body, which helps boost your immune system. So the moral of this story is smile—and laugh—often!

7. Smiling just feels good.
Have you ever found that smiling just feels good? Go ahead, smile now. Doesn’t it feel natural? Make you feel happy to be alive? It sure does beat the heck out of a frown.
So the next time you’re feeling down or out of sorts, try a smile. If you can’t find a reason to smile, pop in a funny DVD, read the Sunday comics or call a friend. Heck, you may be able to even read the word smile and feel better. According to research published in Psychological Science, simply reading certain words may also have the same effect. Just like seeing someone else smile makes you smile, reading emotion verbs (like smile, grin, frown, etc.) can also activate specific facial muscles.

Isn’t it time you turn that frown upside down? Now say “cheese!”

credit: Jennifer Walters

20 wise quotes from the Dalai Lama

 

1- Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.

2- If you can, help others; if you cannot do that, at least do not harm them.

3- If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.

4- My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.

5- Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.

6- The ultimate authority must always rest with the individual’s own reason and critical analysis.

7- We can live without religion and meditation, but we cannot survive without human affection.

8- We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.

9- Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.

10- If you have fear of some pain or suffering, you should examine whether there is anything you can do about it. If you can, there is no need to worry about it; if you cannot do anything, then there is also no need to worry.

11- If you don’t love yourself, you cannot love others. You will not be able to love others. If you have no compassion for yourself then you are not able of developing compassion for others.

12- Human potential is the same for all. Your feeling, “I am of no value”, is wrong. Absolutely wrong. You are deceiving yourself. We all have the power of thought – so what are you lacking? If you have willpower, then you can change anything. It is usually said that you are your own master.

13- We must recognize that the suffering of one person or one nation is the suffering of humanity. That the happiness of one person or nation is the happiness of humanity.

14- Through violence, you may ‘solve’ one problem, but you sow the seeds for another.

15- As people alive today, we must consider future generations: a clean environment is a human right like any other. It is therefore part of our responsibility toward others to ensure that the world we pass on is as healthy, if not healthier, than we found it.

16- To conquer oneself is a greater victory than to conquer thousands in a battle.

17- There is a saying in Tibetan, “Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength.”
No matter what sort of difficulties, how painful experience is, if we lose our hope, that’s our real disaster.

18- The creatures that inhabit this earth-be they human beings or animals-are here to contribute, each in its own particular way, to the beauty and prosperity of the world.

19- A spoon cannot taste of the food it carries. Likewise, a foolish man cannot understand the wise man´s wisdom even if he associates with a sage.

20- In our struggle for freedom, truth is the only weapon we possess.

Stone of the Day: Rhodochrosite

Rhodochrosite represents selfless love and compassion. Expands awareness and integrate tangible spiritual energies. This stone gives a dynamic and positive attitude. Rhodochrosite is an excellent stone for the heart and relationships, especially for people who feel unloved. This is the stone par of excellence for healing sexual abuse.

Stone of the Day: Kunzite

Calm Kunzite is extremely spiritual stone high vibration. Be the center of the heart and unconditional love, causing thoughts and loving communication. It exudes peace and connects you with universal love. Kunzite causes deep and focused meditative state. It also reinforces humility and willingness to serve.