I was sitting on a bench in the Greek Orthodox church of Agia Ekaterini (Saint Catherine) in the center of Heraklion, Crete. The 16th century church vibrated with a silent presence. Quietly contemplating, I bathed in the silence, transported far from the busy city outside, enfolded in the scent of beeswax candles and surrounded by the glowing gold framed icons: Mary with the baby Jesus, Archangels and many, many Saints – benign and watchful. Devotion filled the air. [Read more…] about Praying with Icons
If you were like most people, you had at least one spat with a loved one during the Covid-19 lockdown. Maybe it was set off by the stress of distancing; maybe you and your partner were not aligned about using masks; maybe your friends got too close. Whatever the overt reasons for fighting, the pandemic has been a time of stress and friction. Much as we would like to remain calm, happy and benign, there is more than enough opportunity for irritation and conflict. [Read more…] about Why Do We Fight With Our Loved Ones?
This is an extraordinary and difficult time. With so much uncertainty and social turmoil, it is easy to give in to fear and hopelessness. We must keep physically safe to avoid being infected and infecting others. We must also take care of our emotional and mental wellbeing. Below are suggestions to help you maintain your inner psychological balance.
- Make a plan. Assume a disruption of normal life for three months and plan for different contingencies. Talk to a trusted person and write a list of essential actions: staying healthy, getting food, maintaining social contacts, dealing with boredom, managing finances, medicines and healthcare, etc. Stay calm and rational. Do not give in to apocalyptic thinking or panic buying.
- Ration media. Stay informed, but limit your exposure to media that stirs up anger, sadness or fear. Do not allow yourself to get sucked into conspiracy thinking. Balance negative news with positive stories that reflect the best of humanity.
- Challenge negativity. Write down fears, self-criticisms and frustrations. Think of them as ‘mind weeds’. Read them out loud in the third person using your own name (Jane/John is fearful because he/she may get sick). Be as specific as possible and listen carefully to your words. Use affirmations and positive self-talk to change your mood (Jane/John can cope with this crisis).
- Quiet your mind. Do whatever quieting practices suit you best: meditate in the mornings, sit quietly with eyes closed for 5 minutes before performing a task (especially on the computer); get still before getting out of your car; take a contemplative walk in nature; pray internally.
- Combat anxiety. Talk to someone about your fears. Distract yourself by doing something positive and useful. Get information on anxiety management. Practice deep and even breathing: seecoherence breathing and the app: http://www.heartrateplus.com/.
- Exercise regularly. Find a routine that suits your body and needs. Explore alternatives such as gardening, running, biking, walking, yoga, chi kung and online classes such as the 4 minute workout.
- Sleep long and deeply. Wind down at the end of the day: avoid exposure to bad news, limit late evening screen time and snacking. Aim for seven plus hours a night. Take short naps during the day (less than 20 minutes).
- Make a night list. Before going to sleep, write down those things you want/need to tackle the next day. Remind yourself that you do not need to think about those things again until tomorrow. Next day, create a schedule to tackle the most important tasks.
- Stay emotionally engaged. Practice appropriate distancing but do not isolate. Stay in regular contact with family, friends and colleagues. Use Internet video conferencing so you can see people’s faces. Let others know that you love and appreciate them through words, gestures and loving acts.
- Refrain from blame. Don’t take your stress out on others; take responsibility for your emotions and moods. Limit criticism and negative talk—even if the other person deserves it! View your judgments as not essential to your true self. Make an effort to recognize each person’s essential humanity.
- Stay active. Do your normal work or education every day. Make a schedule—including a balance of work/break/meals—for the day and week. Tackle new projects and activities: learn a skill online, plant a garden, clean out the garage, write a book, built a website, cook new recipes.
- Be of Service. Take care of elderly and vulnerable friends, relatives and neighbors. Remind them to stay safe (don’t nag); help with food deliveries; talk them through Internet setup; support them financially.
We experience the world and ourselves through neurological processes. That means that every thought, feeling, sensation, memory, impulse, awareness—everything it takes to be a human being—is reliant on electrical/biochemical activity in our brain. All of our healthy functioning depends on the state of our brain—and we need to take care of it.
Below is a wide range of health-enhancing suggestions based on the current research. Using these suggestions, make changes in your life-style gradually and in moderation. Try different approaches and choose methods that suit you best. Use professional resources—massage, bodywork, psychotherapy, nutritionist, coaching, personal trainer, yoga, tai chi or fitness classes—to resolve issues and change behaviors, as needed. [Read more…] about Enhance Your Brain Health
When was the last time you had a sustained dialog with someone? How often do you talk deeply about topics close to your heart? Are you starved for real conversation—not social chitchat about media, not sharing of personal problems and not scheduling the next meeting? A real conversation is a sustained discussion with the intention to delve deep, to discover something new and be inspired.
I was in a restaurant recently and over half the couples were too engrossed in their cellphones to talk to each other. I overheard the people at the next table discussing politics, so my wife and I introduced ourselves and joined in. It made for a lively evening, a give and take of facts and opinions. We did not completely agree, but we did connect and converse! [Read more…] about The Magic of Conversation