Sunday, January 30, 2011

Hindus Mount “Take Back Yoga” Campaign

There’s a stir going on in the Hindu community over yoga’s ancient roots. It (yoga) belongs to them, they claim, and they hate the way their cherished art is being practiced in the West. So the Hindu American Foundation is mounting a “Take Back Yoga” campaign to raise awareness of yoga’s Hindu origins.
Image byAaron Neifer

Why is it important where yoga originated? Well, without Westerners knowing where yoga came from, most of its spiritual essence is lost. For proof of this, you need only look at the way that most Westerners practice yoga—as exercise.

According to Sheetal Shaw, an official with the Hindu American Foundation:

“Yoga is primarily a moral and spiritual philosophy, a fact she says has been lost as the popularity of physical yoga has boomed in the West. ‘There has been a conscious de-linking between Hinduism and yoga,’ in the United States and elsewhere, she says.” (Source: CNN’s Belief Blog)

Shaw hopes that her organization’s “Take Back Yoga” campaign will not only re-link Hinduism with yoga, but will also put the spiritual back into the practice of yoga.

I hope their campaign works. Practicing yoga in a mindful, spiritual way elevates this already soothing practice into a sort of moving meditation that will help us spiritually transcend our ever-more-stressful lives. Do you think that their “Take Back Yoga” campaign will help to put the spiritual back into yoga?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Give and you WILL Receive—Guaranteed

Giving is a powerful spiritual law that guarantees that you will receive an abundant return. It guarantees that your gift will be multiplied and returned to you. It guarantees that your cup runneth over, continuously, as long as you continue to give.

Image by sanja gjenero

Giving and receiving, you see, are inextricably linked. One always follows the other. And the amount you receive will always be more than that which you gave. It has to. It is spiritual law.

My all time favorite Bible verse about giving and receiving comes from Malachi 3:10:

Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.—King James Version

It’s true. Giving generates receiving every time. I’ve seen it work in my life and I’ve seen in work in other people’s lives. Truly, you cannot out-give God. But to maximize the results from giving and receiving, there are a few general principles that you should follow.

Guidelines for Giving and Receiving

1. Money is not the only instrument of return. Indeed, giving of your time, giving of your talent, giving of your love are all powerful forms of giving. And your gift doesn’t have to be anything that anyone can see. For instance, if you extend so much as the thought of kindness and compassion toward another, you have given that person a powerful gift that will be multiplied and returned to you.

2. Give in the form of your need. Although any form of giving will generate a return, it is most powerful if you give in the form of your need. So…if you need money, give money. If you need friendship, give friendship. If you need the perfect job, help a friend get their perfect job.

3. Don’t expect anything in return. Why? Because giving while expecting a payback is not true giving. It is a humanistic selfishness. Give generously, your only motive being your desire to help another fellow earth traveler, and watch how the Universe generously meets every one of your needs.

4. Don’t expect to receive back from the person you gave to. It will seldom happen this way. Your return will likely come from a totally unexpected source.

5. Give anonymously. As much as possible, keep your generosity and your good deeds secret. The reason for this rule is that when you bask in others’ praise of your good deeds, your ego steps in. Your motive for giving then becomes the good opinion of others. Jesus said (and I’m reciting this from memory, so this may not be the exact quote) to “give in secret so that your father, who sees in secret, shall reward you openly.”

6. Give joyously. Much more important than the size of your gift is your attitude while giving it. Although any type of giving will generate a return, those that are bestowed joyously, with great excitement and happiness, will bring the biggest return—and it will happen much more quickly, too. Giving joyousely probably should have been listed first, because it is the most important part of the spiritual law of giving and receiving.

Random Acts of Kindness

So how do you put this new giving and receiving practice into action? It’s easier than you think. All you have to do is perform random acts of kindness as your spirit moves you. Here are some simple ways to give gifts that keep on giving—from the Universe.

1. When you pull up to a toll booth, pay the toll of the car behind you (a stranger) along with your own.

2. When you eat at a restaurant, pay another patron’s bill. Remember, do this anonymously. Get the waitress to give you their bill so that you can pay it. Don’t stay around for thanks from the strangers whose dinner you just bought.

3. On a snowy day, wait for your neighbor to leave for work, and then plow or shovel their driveway. Do not tell them what you did for them.

4. After you eat dinner at a restaurant, give the waitress an extra large tip.

5. For one whole day, find something to appreciate about every person you meet, and then give each person one—or more—honest, heartfelt compliments.

Boy, this is fun. I could go on and on thinking up various random acts of kindness. But now it’s your turn. What random acts of kindness can you add to this list?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Feeling Good: the Key to Manifesting your Desires

Here is a very inspirational Abraham/Hicks presentation about the power of feeling good in manisfesting your desires.

Most of us feel that we have to struggle against our (frequently difficult) present situation and work hard--sometimes against great obstacles--to achieve our dreams. Not so, says Abraham (a nonphysical entity that  speaks through Esther Hicks). All we have to do is to start feeling good NOW.


Wherever you go, whatever you do, look for that which makes you feel good. Find something to appreaciate about everything and everyone. Feeling good raises your vibrational level so that you attract that which you desire. You will then start allowing all the good that is your birthright to flow effortlessly into your life.

Listen to this short presentation and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Mindfulness Meditation Changes the Brain, Study Shows

A new study shows intriguing evidence that mindfulness meditation changes the brain. Specifically, a regular practice of mindfulness meditation appeared to cause measurable changes in the brain’s gray matter of the study’s participants. This is a phenomenal finding that should go far in encouraging people to take up mindfulness as a regular discipline.

What is Mindfulness?

The simplest way to explain mindfulness is that it is complete moment-to-moment awareness of all thoughts, sensations, feelings, and states of mind. Moreover, your awareness of these aspects of your being is completely nonjudgmental. You just notice them in a detached way, as if you were a scientist looking at an organism in a petrie dish. In other words, you do not become hooked by your experiences—rather actual or sensory—you just observe what is.

Image by Ha Pe_Gera
 And yes, this is also the concept that Eckhart Tolle describes in his book Living in the Now.

This seems simple and, actually, it is simple. But it is so hard for most people to do. Until you try mindfulness, you won’t realize how seldom you live in the present moment and how seldom your thoughts are without judgment.

The beauty of mindfulness is that you can practice it all day—every day—of your life without pausing in your activities. Soon, it will become your primary state of being. But to hasten this state of being, you should set aside some quiet time every day to practice mindfulness meditation

Mindfulness Meditation and the Brain

In this latest study, 16 volunteers were given MRIs to assess their brain structures. Then they participated in the eight week stress reduction program at the famed Mindfulness-Based Stress reduction program at the University of Massachusetts Center for Mindfulness. While participating in this program, the volunteers were instructed to keep track of how much time that they spent actively practicing mindfulness meditation each day. While the volunteers were being trained in, and practiced, Mindfulness Meditation, researchers gave MRIs to a control group of volunteers who did not meditate.

At the completion of the Mindfulness-Based Stress reduction programs, the 16 volunteers were again given MRIs to assess if any changes had taken place in their brains. They compared these MRIs against those of the control group.

And what did they find?

Well, they found changes in the brains of the mediators that were not present in those of the control group.

According to U.S. News Health (Health Day):

“The meditation group participants spent an average of 27 minutes a day doing mindfulness meditation exercises. The MRI scans taken after the eight-week program revealed increased gray matter density in the hippocampus (important for learning and memory) and in structures associated with compassion and self-awareness.

Mindfulness Meditation Reduces Stress

[Moreover], the investigators also found that participant-reported reductions in stress were associated with decreased gray matter density in the amygdale, which plays a role in anxiety and stress" (Source: U.S. News Health).

Imagine…just 27 minutes a day of mindfulness meditation can significantly decrease stress and anxiety, increase learning and memory, and give you a healthy infusion of compassion and self-awareness! Sign me up!

For a more detailed explanation of this study, along with the exciting implications of these findings, please watch the below video from Newsy. If you would like to read the results of this study, it will be published in the January 30th issue of the journal Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging.

Do you have any experience with mindfulness meditation that you would like to share?