Have you ever wondered why someone people seem to struggle through life while others breeze through it? Have you ever compared yourself to someone in a similar situation and wondered why they seem so content while your frustrations are escalating to an all time high? Sometimes it all comes down to perspective. Luckily, you can change your perspective.
Albert Ellis was a successful American psychologist and psychotherapist. As part of his work Ellis identified twelve irrational ideas that he called ‘The Dirty Dozen’. He believe that these commonly held ideas can unnecessarily contribute to difficulties in life.
I have listed the dirty dozen below; have a read through them, you might be surprised at how many you can relate to. If you identify with any of them, ask yourself:
Do you feel safe revealing any or all of your needs to someone? Think about that… because… most of us have some shame about having needs in the first place. If you didn’t know that… sure enough, it’s true. In fact, often, we need the shame to get up motivation. We too easily judge ourselves as needy and we need shame to get going.
So on goes the mask of self-reliance in a futile attempt to protect ourselves from any anticipated rejection or disagreement and thus, we isolate and this only weakens our spirit and bolsters self-will. The strategy is self-defeating, creating disassociation from ourselves and disconnection from others. Actually, that isn’t healthy.
Shame and guilt are painful… trust is freeing. Its a really good idea to have some compassionate people around. For example, to help get the road blocks to good mental health and meeting of needs flowing. Here is a list that puts into perspective what a healthy person may be getting and a shamed person is possibly missing.
Take a break from thinking and toughing it out alone; get together with a compassionate friend, spouse, relation, etc… you aren’t a robot. We all need to express our feelings. Solving problems when we have unmet needs is very much more unlikely because we just don’t perform well under stress of unmet needs. Inadequacy in one or more of the above mentioned needs is NORMAL — absolutely normal. Develop good friendships and trusting relationships and your health and well-being will improve. I know about this… I was a needy man with a self-sufficient mask over my feelings for too many years. Thankfully, I have good friends and I am much healthier as a result.
Mind is expression of Energy originating from beyond the limits of space-time through the information layers of consciousness.
Most of this post is from work
by Eckhart Tolle.
Eckhart Tolle is asked, “Is the ego the source of our thoughts or are our thoughts generated elsewhere and pass through the ego?”
Tolle begins, “There is no ego apart from thoughts. The identification with thoughts is ego. But the thoughts that go through your mind, of course, are linked to the collective mind of the culture you live in, humanity as a whole, so they are not your thoughts as such, but you pick most of them up from the collective (most of them). And so, you identify with thinking and the identification with thinking becomes ego, which means simply that you believe in every thought that arises and you derive your sense of who you are from what your mind is telling you who you are. Opinions, viewpoints, ‘that’s me.’”
Did the universe make a mistake with the ego?
“The realm of consciousness is much vaster than thought can grasp. When you no longer believe everything you think, you step out of thought and see clearly that the thinker is not who you are.”
The ego arises out of the state of identification with thought. The moment of freedom arises when we realize that we are not our thoughts—rather, we are the awareness. .
Eckhart, Could you elaborate on ego versus healthy self-esteem? How do you know when higher consciousness guides you? How do we break the habit of excessive thinking? What is music and why is it so important to us?Why Does the ego put up such a fight? Do you ever regret what you say? Do we have a choice in suffering?
For two years, a small man sits quietly on a park bench. People walk by, lost in their thoughts. One day someone asks him a question. In the weeks that follow there are more people and more questions. Word spreads that the man is a “mystic,” and has discovered something that brings peace and meaning into our lives. It sounds like fiction, but today that man, Eckhart Tolle, is known worldwide for his teachings on spiritual enlightenment through the power of the present moment. Read more.
The ego has the benefit of beliefs that will sustain it until I am dead. How much power will we wrest from each other is in the balance each moment. My day-to-day life is where it seems that the match occurs. Yet, really this is a match of mind and consciousness. One is eternal and all powerful. The other is temporary and yet seems all powerful. The ego makes its points by turning away in fear from love. The mind makes its points by looking through the anxious devastation of fear to see an outcome that is beyond the space-time present; manifest in the design of this universe, yet largely unknown to me.
I know that I am changing and according to what I am reading, so is my brain and my body adapting too. I wanted to learn how mindfulness is aiding me; spiritually, and how mindfulness and meditation and praying stimulate physical changes, so, I’d been posting on this as I was learning more.
Often, I’m told that prayer is all that is necessary for spiritual growth. I cannot disagree. However, I need stillness away from the ego to be able to do this. I put my mind to learning to want meditation time and I began to know the God of my youth, in a relevant and deep Christian way, as I pursued the practices of meditation. Later I began to experience the stillness and being in the flow, in the present of now, for periods of connecting but in still, timeless, moments. These experiences brought me to want to be joy as well as being softening humility and compassion for others.
The ego that Tolle describes is cunning and powerful and this is the ego that I discovered that I am otherwise unable to escape. It runs by fear, primal instinct, and it is a cunning foe, this arcane chameleon foe of personality shifting identities.
I’ve taught in programs that serve people that dissociate. So, I’ve read about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Identity Disorders; always… have for years now. It may be, I am sure more than suspect, that mindfulness is a tremendous beneficial practice for people that suffer from PTSD and ego fragmenting dissociate disorders. The techniques are being researched and there is new hope for vets and abuse victims. The problems of PTSD and for others that dissociate are deeply attached to subconscious ego defense mechanisms that are hardly yet understood. With Tolle’s teachings and with mindfulness practices, there is great hope.
I already know from research and seeing people get well that these practices are greatly benefiting people that suffer from anxiety and depression.
Here is another reference to the new science of mind-body and wellness and how spirituality is a boost — here is suggested: “explore the relationship between spirituality and your health.” Okay, I will continue. In fact, I have a few more posts in my drafts. Meantime, this post is about a book I hadn’t seen. If you haven’t opened the blog, Reigh Simuzoshya, Ph.D. has many other posts that link spiritual practices to health and science. Check it out.
Historically, religion has been implicitly correlated with improved health. Later, this belief piqued the interest of scientists who have since measured and documented the connection between the two. A review of literature which includes findings by Dr. Howard Koenig and associates (2001) informs us that science attests to the fact that practiced religion is correlated with significant longevity and a reduced risk of myriad diseases. Since the 1800s when biostatistician Francis Galt’s study affirmed the positive health outcomes of intercessory prayer many more similar studies have been conducted and scientists have been astounded by the strong correlation of spirituality with general health. The quantified health effects of spirituality are reportedly the same as the effects of quitting smoking on health as far as years added to the individual’s life are concerned. Some of the specific benefits of religion include lower levels of stress; better coping skills; improved mental health; less…
Today, I want to share how research provides a link between spiritual experiences and health and well-being.
According to research, spiritual experiences are associated with a decreased focus on the self. Prayer, meditation, and mindfulness to name a few, are healthy. Similar to good diet, exercise and rest, regular spiritual experiences contribute to overall health.
Spiritual experiences are associated with a decreased focus on the self. I’ll use this as a definition for a spiritual state of mind: a non-tangible state of mind that brings profound meaning into one’s life as one transcends oneself.
Use something else if you like — we can’t say spiritual is universally anything religious though. Spiritual is as much a secular term as it is a religious term.
Neurotheology, also known as spiritual neuroscience, attempts to explain spiritual and religious experience and behavior in neuroscientific terms. By understanding how the brain works during certain spiritual experiences and practices (e.g., prayer, meditation, and mindfulness), science can explore related psychological and physical health connections; for example, brain activity during meditation indicates that people who frequently practice meditation do also experience lower blood pressure, lower heart rates, decreased anxiety, and decreased depression.
Just as our spiritual teachers have always said, the health benefits as well as the spiritual practices are important.
Dr. Andrew Newberg is a neuroscientist who studies the relationship between brain function and various mental states. He is a pioneer in the neurological study of religious and spiritual experiences, a field known as “neurotheology.”
Newberg’s research includes making brain scans while people practice prayer, meditation, rituals, and during trance states. The scans are analyzed in an attempt to better understand the effects, nature of and the benefits of the various religious and spiritual practices and attitudes.
Spiritual experiences are typically highly complex, involving emotions, thoughts, sensations, and behaviors. These experiences seem far too rich and diverse to derive solely from one part of the brain. For example, a near-death experience might result in different activity patterns from those found in a person who is meditating. Such evidence indicates that more than a single “God spot” is at work — that, in fact, a number of structures in the brain work together to help us experience spirituality and religion.
According to Newberg (and others) humans are compelled to act out myths due to the biological operations of their brains. An “inbuilt tendency of the brain to turn thoughts into actions,” they say is responsible. Says Newberg, “The main reason God won’t go away is because our brains won’t allow God to leave. Our brains are set up in such a way that God and religion become among the most powerful tools for helping the brain do its thing — self-maintenance and self-transcendence. Unless there is a fundamental change in how our brain works, God will be around for a very long time.”
Andrew Newberg: Three main changes in meditative brains
To look at the neurophysiology of religious and spiritual practices, we used a brain imaging technology called single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), which allows us to measure blood flow. The more blood flow a brain area has, the more active it is (see here).
When we scanned the brains of Tibetan Buddhist meditators, we found decreased activity in the parietal lobe during meditation. This area of the brain is responsible for giving us a sense of our orientation in space and time. We hypothesize that blocking all sensory and cognitive input into this area during meditation is associated with the sense of no space and no time that is so often described in meditation.
The front part of the brain, which is usually involved in focusing attention and concentration, is more active during meditation. This makes sense since meditation requires a high degree of concentration. We also found that the more activity increased in the frontal lobe, the more activity decreased in the parietal lobe.
When we looked at the brains of Franciscan nuns in prayer, we found increased activity in the frontal lobes (same as Buddhists), but also increased activity in the inferior parietal lobe (the language area). This latter finding makes sense in relation to the nuns using a verbally based practice (prayer) rather than visualization (meditation). The nuns, like the Buddhists, also showed decreased activity in the orientation area (superior parietal lobes) of the brain.
We also looked at the brain of a long-term meditator who was an atheist. We scanned the person at rest and while meditating on the concept of God. The results showed that there was no significant increase in the frontal lobes as with the other meditation practices. The implication is that the individual was not able to activate the structures usually involved in meditation when he was focusing on a concept that he did not believe in.
The temporal lobes are clearly important in religious and spiritual experiences. The amygdala and hippocampus have been shown to be particularly involved in the experience of visions, profound experiences, memory, and meditation. However, Andrew feels that the temporal lobe must interact with many other parts of the brain to provide the full range of religious and spiritual experiences. For more information on the research, click here.