Friday, July 19, 2013

5 Ways Meditation Can Make You Happier and More Successful at Work

by Deepak Chopra

Let’s look at the five ways that meditation can help you prevent burnout, and experience more fulfillment and happiness at work.

1. Meditation Reduces Stress

Chronic, unmanaged stress can make you sick and accelerate aging. As many scientific studies have found, prolonged stress contributes to the development of high blood pressure, heart disease, stomach ulcers, autoimmune diseases, anxiety, cancer, insomnia, chronic fatigue, obesity, and depression.

In meditation, your body releases stress and reverses the effects of the flight-or-fight response – that ancient instinct we all have to either run from perceived danger or take it on in battle. Intended as a short-term protection mechanism, fight or flight causes our body to speed up our heart rate, increase our blood sugar, suppress our immune system, reduce insulin production, pump out stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, and reduce the blood supply to our digestive organs. All of these reactions happen so that our body can focus on either running away as fast as it can – or staying to fight. Although few people reading this article face daily threats to their bodily existence, many live in a prolonged state of fight or flight, generating stress in response to bad traffic, criticism from a supervisor, or a workplace disagreement.

2. Meditation Helps You Create Harmonious Relationships
When you’re feeling balanced and centered, it is much easier to respond rather than react, to be present with a client or co-worker and really listen to what they are saying and what they may need.

As you meditate on a regular basis, you develop what is known as “witnessing awareness” – the ability to calmly and objectively observe a situation, notice when you are being triggered, and consciously choose how you want to respond. The ability to be present and aware is valuable in the workplace and every other area of your life. During the upcoming Meditation Challenge we will be focusing on specific tools and approaches to creating relationships that support greater happiness and fulfillment in our lives.

3. Meditation Improves Focus and Concentration

Many people feel frazzled because they’re trying to do more than one thing at a time. As neuroscientists have discovered, the conscious brain cannot multitask. If I’m speaking to you and checking my emails at the same time, I’m doing neither. Meditation helps us to train our brain to stay focused on the task at hand rather than letting our attention be pulled away by every passing thought and distraction. This one-pointed attention makes us more productive and less stressed.

There is a lot of interesting research showing how meditation and mindfulness improve the brain’s focus and concentration. A study carried out by the Kyoto Convention Bureau found that when people meditated for at least ten minutes before a meeting, they were much better at focusing, listening, retaining information, and completing tasks. The next time you’re leading or attending a meeting, you may want to suggest just a few minutes of meditation for everyone to get centered and present. It doesn’t have to be complicated – just have people close their eyes and focus on their breath for a minute or two.

4. Meditation Enhances Your Creativity

We each have between 60,000 and 80,000 thoughts a day – unfortunately, many of them are the same thoughts we had yesterday, last week, and last year. The mind tends to get stuck in repetitive thought loops that squeeze out the possibility for new ideas and inspiration. Meditation takes us beyond habitual, conditioned thought patterns into a state of expanded awareness. We connect to what is known as the field of infinite possibilities or pure potentiality, and we open and receptive to new ideas, fresh perspectives, and flashes of insight.

The world’s great innovators, athletes, and other high achievers have described this state as “being in the flow,” being in the right place at the right time, or a state of grace. Time seems to stand still and instead of struggling and trying to force things to happen, everything you need comes naturally to you. You do less and accomplish more. You aren’t burdened by the past or worried about the future; you’re flowing in the ever-present, eternal now. This higher state of consciousness, which we can access through meditation, is the birthplace of all creativity.

5. Meditation Improves Health and Vitality and Enhances the Power of the Brain
When we’re feeling healthy and energetic, it is much easier to stay focused and meet the daily demands of work. Meditation is now recognized as a healing tool with numerous benefits for the mind-body system. In the state of restful awareness created by meditation:

  • Your blood pressure normalizes
  • Your heart rate slows
  • Your immune function improves
  • You use oxygen more efficiently
  • You produce fewer stress hormones, such as adrenaline, cortisol
  • You make more sex hormones particularly DHEA
  • Your pituitary gland release more growth hormone (an anti-aging chemical)

In addition to all of these benefits, the deep state of rest produced by meditation triggers the brain to release neurotransmitters that enhance feelings of wellbeing, focus, and equanimity, including dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphins. Meditation choreographs the simultaneous release of these neurotransmitters, something that no single drug can do – and all without side effects.


Thursday, July 11, 2013

The World in a Bright Light

by Madisyn Taylor

There is always something to be grateful for even when life is hard and times are tough.

Everyday is a blessing, and in each moment there are many things that we can be grateful for. The world opens up to us when we live in a space of gratitude. In essence, gratitude has a snowball effect. When we are appreciative and express that gratitude, the universe glows a bit brighter and showers us with even more blessings.

There is always something to be grateful for, even when life seems hard. When times are tough, whether we are having a bad day or stuck in what may feel like an endless rut, it can be difficult to take the time to feel grateful. Yet, that is when gratitude can be most important. If we can look at our lives, during periods of challenge, and find something to be grateful for, then we can transform our realities in an instant. There are blessings to be found everywhere.

When we are focusing on what is negative, our abundance can be easy to miss. Instead, choosing to find what already exists in our lives that we can appreciate can change what we see in our world. We start to notice one blessing, and then another.

When we constantly choose to be grateful, we notice that every breath is a miracle and each smile becomes a gift. We begin to understand that difficulties are also invaluable lessons. The sun is always shining for us when we are grateful, even if it is hidden behind clouds on a rainy day. A simple sandwich becomes a feast, and a trinket is transformed into a treasure.

Living in a state of gratitude allows us to spread our abundance because that is the energy that we emanate from our beings. Because the world reflects back to us what we embody, the additional blessings that inevitably flow our way give us even more to be grateful for. The universe wants to shower us with blessings. The more we appreciate life, the more life appreciates and bestows us with more goodness.

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Golden Rule

by Madisyn Taylor

All over the world, there exists a simple precept that, when followed, has the power to end conflict and banish strife. It is the Golden Rule, a key concept in many philosophies and spiritualities that admonishes us to “do unto others as we would have them do unto us.” Its meaning is clear: treat others only in ways that you would want to be treated. However, the golden rule is not always easy to follow. It can be a challenge to honor others as we wish to be honored. Yet, when we do so, we bestow a gift of loving kindness on our fellow human beings. And, in honoring others, we honor ourselves.

It is as uncomplicated a tenet as one could wish for. When we live by it, harming another person becomes nearly impossible. The Golden Rule is rooted in pure empathy and does not compel us to perform any specific act. Rather, it gently guides us to never let our actions toward others be out of harmony with our own desires. The Golden Rule asks us to be aware of the effect our words and actions may have on another person and to imagine ourselves in their place. It calls on us to ask ourselves how we would feel if what we were about to do were directed toward us. And yet this rule invites us to do more than not harm others. It suggests that we look for opportunities to behave toward others in the same ways that we would want others to act toward us. Showing compassion, being considerate of others, caring for the less fortunate, and giving generously are what can result when you follow the Golden Rule.

Adhering to the Golden Rule whenever possible can have a positive effect on the world around you because kindness begets kindness. In doing so, you generate a flow of positive energy that enfolds everyone you encounter in peace, goodwill, and harmony.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Magic of Enthusiasm

by Kate Corbin

“Make sure that your life is a rare entertainment!  It doesn't take anything drastic.  You needn't be gorgeous or wealthy or smart -  just very Enthusiastic!”
- Bette Midler

Welcome to the Wonderful World of Enthusiasm!  When you enter this magical realm, you ride a wave of Life Force Energy that carries you easily and joyfully to the fulfillment of your desires.  Want more money?  Get excited about it!  Ready for your ideal relationship?  Feel passionate about it!

What a vibrant, potent force the Vibration of Enthusiasm is!  With Enthusiasm and Passion, you broadcast your desires at a zillion watts and the Universe responds with equal intensity.
The word, Enthusiasm, comes from the Greek for “filled with God.”  How about that?  The etymology confirms that Enthusiasm is the state of being plugged in to Source.

Enthusiasm is that twinkle in your eye, that spring in your step.  It’s that fire in the belly that says “I’m alive and I know who I am and what I want.”  Enthusiasm is wholeheartedness.  With Enthusiasm, you’re aligned, you’re connected, you’re open to receive the juicy abundance of life.

"Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Enthusiasm determines the difference between ordinary and extraordinary, between mediocre and meteoric.  In sports, politics, business, the arts - in every field of human endeavor - the ones who make it to the top are invariably fueled by Enthusiasm.  What greatness are you ready to achieve with the power of Enthusiasm?

Here’s how to get the Magic of Enthusiasm flowing freely in your life:

Acknowledge that Enthusiasm is your birthright, which means it’s always there - like the sun on a cloudy day.
To align with your natural state of Enthusiasm, do what you love.  Let your heart steer the ship.  What have you always felt drawn to do since you were a kid?  What activities make you come alive?  What totally absorbs you so you lose track of time?  Find things you love to do and give yourself permission to DO THEM.
Hang around with happy kids, playful pets, vibrant friends and PLAY!
Stop postponing joy.  Life is supposed to be fun, so have some fun today! Say YES more than NO.   
Act NOW rather than “some day.”
Choose your heart over your head.
Be yourself
- who YOU really are, rather than who “they” say you should be.
Go for your big dreams and refuse to settle for less than the best.
Show up!
  As the song says, “when you get the chance to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance.”

A hearty dose of Enthusiasm can mean the difference between an OK life and a life of magnificence.  Your vibration of Enthusiasm is a powerful magnet summoning and attracting your highest good, your most heartfelt desires.  Re-discover your natural exuberance.  Give the Universe a crystal clear, unequivocal statement of your desires by focusing with full-on Enthusiasm.  When you engage the Magic of Enthusiasm, you’ll be supported and empowered to Live Your Best Life Now!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Violence and Nonviolence

"What is violence? What is nonviolence?" the Dalai Lama had once asked me in one of our interviews in Dharamsala. "Very difficult to make clear. It is related to motivation. If we have sincere motivation, with compassion and caring in our minds, even if we speak harsh words, use physical force, these actions are nonviolent. But with negative motivation, a friendly gesture using nice words and a big smile, and try to exploit others, it is the worst kind of violence. Because of the motivation.”

"Today's reality is whole world just one body. Everything is a part of me. Understanding this helps reduce negative emotions. Hatred comes because we don't appreciate interdependence. Suffering comes because we don't understand interdependence. We cause harm, sometimes unintentionally, because we are greedy for money, power. We think these things will make us happy. This is misunderstanding. Real happiness comes from peace of mind. The only way to obtain is be altruistic, be compassionate.

Nonviolence for him is not passivity: the absence of violence is only part of it. We need to actively help others and we should do that with a genuine sense of compassion, not pity. At a minimum, we should not harm others. Not harming others is a logical extension of the idea of interdependence. Since everything is a part of us, harming others would hurt ourselves.

So, taking care of other, taking care of other part of the world, is actually taking care of yourself. Because individual future depends on the humanity as a whole. So that's new reality - global economy and also population and technology and also the environment. So long as you have the feeling, you have the sense of concern about the  well-being of others, then there is no room to cheat, no room to exploit, no room to bully. All is part of you, all part of me."

~ His Holiness the Dalai Lama