Tag Archives: lifestyle

A life dedicated to service

The passing of Queen Elizabeth II has been mourned by millions of people, many feeling the same grief as if a close family member had died. Even anti-Royalists would have to concede that the Queen triggers something deep in the collective consciousness.

The death of a famous person sends a stark reminder of our own mortality. A collective outpouring of grief on a global level has a cathartic, healing effect. We are reminded over the loss of our own loved ones who are no more. The queen herself said in a message after the 9/11 terror attacks on September 11, 2001: “Grief is the price we pay for love.”

The public image of the rich, powerful and famous is carefully crafted by teams of professional public relations experts and seldom bears resemblance to the real lives of the persons portrayed.

Individual needs, hopes, dreams, and aspirations are projected onto persons in the public limelight. It is part of the marketing strategy to remain a talking point, with tidbits of information on the private lives being fed to the yellow press at timed intervals.

The projection of hopes and dreams

The result is that the addictive consumer of gossip press knows more about some distant movie star or royal family member than about their immediate family or friends.  Sadly, they become so engrossed with the life of a complete stranger that they forget to live their own life.

There seems to be almost a masochistic indulgence in the rise and fall of some famous rock legend, movie, or sports star. Nothing seems to provide the yellow press with so much “Schadenfreude” as to elevate a superstar to a “God” and then to do everything possible to oust them from the throne.

There are indeed rare historical examples of leaders who never set a foot wrong and through their life of service become a game-changer for generations afterward. Queen Elizabeth’s vow to serve was made in a famous speech in Cape Town on her 21st birthday.

Nelson Mandela committed his life to the struggle for a non-racial democratic  South Africa. Just prior to being sentenced to life imprisonment by the apartheid government in 1961, he said:

“The struggle is my life. I will continue fighting for freedom until the end of my days.”

Eleanor Roosevelt,  working tirelessly in the background of her husband, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidency, campaigned for the rights of women in the workplace and the civil rights of African Americans.

“Since you get more joy out of giving joy to others, you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness that you are able to give,” she said in one of her most famous quotes.

Spiritual leaders made the ultimate sacrifice

Many of the world’s greatest spiritual leaders gave the ultimate sacrifice. Jesus was crucified on the cross. During the Middle Ages the Mystics and religious leaders Giordano Bruno, Jan Hus, Joan of Arc, and Marguerite Porete were burned at the stake for heresy like tens of thousands of others.

In an age where personal material gratification and narcissism have become the norm, a “life dedicated to service” has become an almost archaic term from bygone times.

It is no coincidence that a culture of narcissism is interlinked to the epidemic rise in depression. Disappointment, grievance, and loss of self-esteem are inevitable when the drumbeat of the cultural message is all external. Meaning and value are defined according to “fame parameters” such as the number of social media followers, material possessions, and particular definitions of physical beauty.

An antidote to depression?

A life of service is one of the best antidotes to depression. Studies reveal that people doing volunteer work in their community and who have a life philosophy based on serving something that far outweighes their individual needs are more successful, happier, and contented human beings.

It is why some of the world’s wealthiest people have become the world’s greatest philanthropists, using their wealth as their tool of destiny for the betterment of society.

Analysis of three waves of data from the Americans’ Changing Lives data set (1986, 1989, 1994) reveals that volunteering lower depression levels, especially for those over the age of 65. An Irish study concluded that volunteer work and as a result social connectedness improved mental health. Helping others gives a sense of meaning and purpose.

Even the Royal Family has been skillful in crafting its public image to counter growing sentiment questioning the meaning of having a monarchy. Yet, it is obvious that like Lady Diana, the Queen has touched the hearts of millions of people with small, simple gestures of kindness and compassion.

The simple things and their compound effect ultimately make all the difference in building a better world, something the Queen had obviously understood and is the message that has resounded with so many during these past days.

In a Christmas broadcast in 2002 the Queen said: “Our modern world places such heavy demands on our time and attention that the need to remember our responsibilities to others is greater than ever.” 

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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To be seen and to be heard

The other day I observed a couple in a hotel with a baby in a pram crying incessantly while the parents were seemingly unconcerned and tapping away on their smartphones. A basic human need to be seen and to be heard was not being met.

A cuddle and some comforting words by one of the parents would in my mind have soon stopped the child from crying. While babies can only make their needs felt in one way it doesn’t get more complicated when we get to be adults.

It’s not a big surprise that restaurants and other businesses in the hospitality industry are having great difficulty finding staff. Customers are all too often downright rude. It has become so bad that some establishments have had to put up signs appealing to customers to treat their staff with respect.

The grievance culture

We have a grievance culture fanned by political demagogues, certain media outlets, and social media. At the receiving end are often the people who least deserve it. I have enormous admiration for staff in hotels, airlines, and restaurant businesses who remain friendly and courteous in jobs that are badly paid and receive little to no recognition from customers and management.

Lack of recognition and validation from supervisors is also one of the main reasons why highly-skilled and trained staff are quitting their jobs or going into early retirement. Leaders often lack basic soft skills. It doesn’t take much to publicly praise a staff member for work well done. A kind word or compliment will instantly make a person light up and smile.

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Most employees are demotivated

It’s hardly a surprise that only 15 percent of the global workforce feel motivated in their jobs, according to a Gallup poll. This means that a staggering 85 percent of the workforce is unhappy in their job. Most employees suffer in silent misery counting the months and years when they can finally go into retirement and start living.

When an employee isn’t in agreement with a company’s mission and vision or is stifled in his creativity by micro-management the result is obvious. There will be a higher percentage of absenteeism, engagement, and work performance. It is estimated that in the United States alone over 450 billion dollars in losses are recorded annually due to unmotivated employees.

Leading by example

It doesn’t have to stay that way. Choosing the right leaders for key positions in a company can make a huge difference. Some of the key qualities of a good leader are:

  • Leading by example
  • Empathy
  • Accountability
  • The ability to express appreciation and gratitude

All too often however we have the typical narcissist chosen for leadership positions and even being elected to lead a country. With their self-centeredness, arrogance, and lack of empathy they can cause immense damage. They are simply incapable of expressing gratitude or giving recognition because they feel this might diminish their own glory.

But responsibility also starts with the individual taking responsibility. If you keep on blaming the government, your employer, your spouse, or your family for everything that has gone wrong in your life, you are not confronting the fear that is blocking you from making the necessary changes.

As Harvard professor and economist Clayton Christensen is quoted as saying: “Motivation is the catalyzing ingredient for every successful innovation.”

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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Toxic emotions and the food you eat

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”Hippocrates

Study after study is revealing that mental health is closely connected to what foods we eat and that the standard western diet of processed junk foods could explain the rising prevalence of dysfunctional behavior and toxic emotions ventilated in the public narrative.

A series of nutritional experiments in both schools and prisons have shown that violent incidents, the number of suicides, and mental health were significantly improved by changing diets.

Inmates in prisons are generally offered highly processed foods with a low nutritional value. It lacks in particular Omega 3 fatty acids found in leafy vegetables and high-quality oils that are vital to brain health.

In five international studies conducted in prisons during the past 25 years, prisoners were given foods with higher nutrients including fatty acids and minerals. All the studies reported a 30 percent reduction in violence.

Ultra-processed foods make up about two-thirds of diets in school meals in the United Kingdom. Several studies suggest this could be responsible for the high number of ADHS symptoms in children. Hyperactivity, aggression, and irritability seem to go hand in hand in children eating foods with high gluten content. It is mostly found in bread, cereals, and crackers.

One study found that a correction of nutrient intake in schoolchildren, either through a well-balanced diet or low-dose vitamin-mineral supplementation, improved brain function and subsequently lowered institutional violence and antisocial behavior by almost half.

Is this not an issue that needs to be looked at more closely when investigating the prevalence of gun violence at schools in the United States?

Studies conducted in relatively closed environments such as schools and prisons should be a wake-up call for society in general. According to World Health Organization (WHO) figures nearly two billion people globally are overweight. Obesity is a disease of the metabolism and the body’s metabolism is directly affected by diet and exercise.

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There is no single magic pill to boost brain health. The foods that improve cognitive functions are the same foods that protect your heart and other vital organs:

  • Leafy greens such as kale, spinach, collards, and broccoli are rich in brain-healthy nutrients like vitamin K, lutein, folate, and beta carotene.
  • Fish, avocado, walnuts and high quality olive oils are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids.
  • Berries are some of the healthiest foods you can eat. Blueberries, strawberries and rasberries are loaded with antioxidents and fibrres that prevent inflammation in the brain.

We can conclude that a large portion of humanity is living a shadow of the life it could live. Minds are fed with a daily dosage of toxic information while bodies are fed with toxic foods that incrementally destroy the quality of life.

The compound effect of your daily habits, and the choices you make migh well determine whether you live long enough to see your grandchildren grow up.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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The difference between thoughts and feelings

“One ought to hold onto one’s heart, for if one lets it go, one soon loses control of the head too”

– Friedrich Nietzsche-

We have to accept it as a reality of our world that much of what we think and feel is being shaped by social media platforms cementing beliefs and perspectives.

Emotions are an involuntary initial response to external stimuli by the brain’s limbic system as part of our evolutionary survival system.

The ancient Greek and Roman Stoic philosophers were well aware of this human trait. So, they developed a philosophy of life that maximizes positive emotions, reducing negative emotions, and honing virtues of character.

The Stoics believed that the way in which you respond to the world is your responsibility. They propose that most of the time your response to any given situation is a choice. At any moment you have the ability to choose one response over another.

Wisdom was seen as living in harmony with the divine Reason of that which governs nature. They trained the mind to remain calm amid the vicissitudes of life and fortune.

When a mass circulation newspaper prints on its front page an article on what would happen if Russia dropped a nuclear bomb on London, this inevitably triggers toxic emotions such as fear, anger, and outright terror. You have little control over such emotions, the brain’s limbic system is triggered into fight or flight mode.

When you go into rational thought you will start questioning the intention of the article and realize that the newspaper is merely pushing emotional buttons in order to boost its circulation and thus its advertising revenue. You will ask yourself: What is real? What is true? What is exaggeration and hyperbole?

Are you chained to your past with your self-talk?

Thoughts are always just that: Thoughts: They dwell on either an event of the past or an imaginary scenario of the future. Your quality of life will be severely impeded if you remain chained to self-talk that centers around the sadness over that which was and is no more or a perceived “grievance” that someone has inflicted on you. The mind is trapped in worries and concerns if it is fed a constant dosage of negative news on the economy.

The authenticity of the heart-mind

Heart mind feelings come from an entirely different space. Fear is transmuted by trust, and hate with love. Unconditional love and empathy come from a grounded trust in the power of a higher entity, the universal intelligence or God.

While an animal reacts mostly from the limbic instinctual level, the human has been given the power of choice and the ability to reflect. You need not be chained to your past. Every moment you can decide through choice to change your destiny.

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Where to start?

The inevitable question is: How do I regain control of toxic emotions triggered by a newspaper headline or a hurtful remark by a loved one? The first step is acceptance of those negative thoughts. Trying to push them away will only make the monster bigger. Before going into immediate attack mode, you could take a deep breath and ask yourself: Is my anger and hurt really justified? Where do I recognize that anger from? Where do I know that feeling of not being seen, heard, or disrespected?

A healthy body creates a healthy mind

If you are living a mainly sedentary lifestyle you will be far more prone to becoming a victim of negative emotions. If you feel healthy, fit, and strong you will be in a better position to “catch” the runaway horses of your mind. By practicing regular deep walking in nature you will find an inner rhythm that is in tune with your purpose and destiny. You will literally be walking toxic emotions off. Create a fixed time every day where you practice meditation, yoga, taichi, or qigong. These ancient body arts are perfectly suited to realign body, mind and soul.

According to the Stoic Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius “very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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When brokenness leads to healing

One of the common causes of pain and suffering in the human mind is the inability to accept the impermanence and unpredictability of life’s seasons.

The world is constantly changing around us and we are changing with it, but often the greatest fear is the fear of the unknown and the desire to keep things “just as they are.” Adapting to new circumstances may require the hard work of letting go of external things, friends, associations, and especially old habits and beliefs.

Searching for purpose can sometimes be a trap

Life happens with “up-and-down” cycles and hardly ever along one clear trajectory. “I just can’t find my purpose,” a young woman said to me. “It just stresses me out completely when I just think of it.”

The misconception is that destiny has chosen for us one clear purpose in life that just has to be found like a hidden treasure. The reality is that one purpose often leads to another. One experience in life creates the foundation for the next step or elevation of consciousness. A job that we once carried out with much passion, energy, and creativity becomes routinely mundane where the days just become a hard chore.

You realize that the person you once fell in love with and shared the same interests, hobbies, and ideas with is now very different. You no longer agree about anything whether it’s the food you eat, political affiliation, or the friends you are going to meet for dinner in the evening.

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The dream house you bought some years ago is showing cracks. The new neighbors are noisy, your favorite restaurant around the corner has closed and the garden is too small for your children to play.

In this week’s podcast “Living to BE” I interviewed Kevin Palmieri who was living the typical American dream with a six-figure income, a beautiful girlfriend, and a nice car. And yet he was deeply unhappy and contemplating suicide. It is in those moments of brokenness that you are forced into introspection. And so began Kevin’s journey into self-development and awareness. He founded Next Level University and a podcast that reaches over half a million people in 125 countries.

Another hill to climb

You will be on a journey climbing a hill and when you reach the hill you find that there is yet another hill to climb. Many accomplished artists, writers, and entrepreneurs describe the feeling of emptiness and even sadness after reaching their goal, realizing that being on the journey was in reality the destination. The process of writing the book created greater fulfillment than actually finishing it. Building the company into a million-dollar enterprise was more energizing than running it. Painting the picture more fulfilling than having it completed.

Nature’s path is constant evolution on a never-ending spiral of change, adaptation, withdrawal, and momentum. If you are going through a difficult time at the moment, one of Abraham Lincoln’s favourite sayings might be comforting to you:

“This too shall pass.”

It is an ancient Persian adage reflecting the temporary nature of all things and the transitory nature of human existance.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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Suffering: A pathway to divinity?

“Light will someday split you open; even if your life is now a cage.“ – Hafiz

It’s a question mankind has mulled for millennia: If there is an omnipotent creator, why does he allow humanity to be afflicted by suffering, wars, disease, and natural catastrophe?

The images we are currently witnessing of the horrendous slaughter of innocent civilians in Ukraine by Russian artillery is something that has occurred throughout history: Evil tyrants going on a rampage without thought or compassion for the carnage and suffering they are causing to millions of lives.

We, humans, are quick to personalize and blame an external God for failing to intervene. It’s a simplistic way of trying to comprehend or find an explanation for the incomprehensible.

God is a state of BEING

God has often been seen as a strict father figure punishing his flock for sinful or bad behavior. The Mystics in contrast view God, the universal creator or the divine as “a state of Being” – the connection to pure love, kindness, and compassion. The manifestation of evil would therefore be the opposite condition – the state of complete absence of God.

Most suffering that we experience in our personal lives or that we witness in the external world is a result of bad human choices and actions carried out from a low level of spiritual disconnect. It is interesting to note that the German word for sin is “Sünde” which has its origins in the old-Germanic expression of “sunta” which means missing the target, straying from the right path or carrying out actions that have negative consequences.

The five stages of grief

The American-Swiss psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross has defined five stages of grief when a person has experienced great loss or trauma. There is denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance or surrender. Without surrender, we remain locked at a low energy level of grievance, and recrimination.

It is especially in the final stage of “surrender” where the heart is broken open to the soul. Jesus dying on the cross is a great analogy for the transmutation of suffering in opening the pathway to divinity and resurrection.

Connecting to the spark within

The 13th-century Mystic Meister Eckhart describes it as the sacred “Fuenklein” or spark. Within that spark, your own brightness and that of God are at one with each other. And it all comes down to making the right choices from the moment you get up in the morning.

Understanding your own thought process while practicing gratitude, and going into service is the key to creating the life you want by moving to a higher energy frequency. I had a wonderful chat this week about this topic with the Australian best-selling author and executive coach Barry Nicolaou.

In our conversation, Barry takes us through six steps toward deconstructing toxic emotions, fears, and habitual thinking. You can listen to it on my Podcast “Living to Be” and watch it on a Youtube video.

It is revealing that when you choose the low road of stale and toxic energy you will attract the same around you. It is an old saying and yet so true: Show me the five people you asssociate with the most and I will tell you who you are.

Choose instead the high path of compassion, love, kindness and forgiveness and you will feel the blessings come back to you manifold.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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Whatever happened to the good debate

A good leader can engage in a debate frankly and thoroughly, knowing that he and the other side must be closer, and thus emerge stronger. You don’t have that idea when you are arrogant, superficial and uninformed.

Nelson Mandela

In ancient Greece, the exchange of different ideas in lively debate and argument was seen as crucial to education and growth. The key to personal growth and self-development is how we master the art of conversation and active listening.

Yet increasingly the narrative in our digital age has become a slamming match between opposing views. Dialogue with persons who don’t share our opinions, beliefs, and habits appears increasingly difficult if not impossible.

Free democratic societies are based on the acceptance and tolerance of different cultures, ideas, and beliefs. If we retreat back to tribal silos of talking only to those people who share our opinions conflict and authoritarian thought control are only one small step away.

Good conversation and dialogue are only possible through active listening and asking questions. Through active listening, we might just gain another insight or a new perspective on a topic that we would otherwise not have become aware of.

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Belief and opinion

If an opinion becomes a belief and part of self-identity the mind will inevitably wall itself off to a different opinion or belief. It will never adapt, change or amend a perspective because such a mindset is ego-driven. You will see every different angle or opinion as a personal threat no matter how good or scientifically based the opposing argument is.

Rational level-headed thought falls prey to toxic emotion, fanatacism, and intolerance.

Civil discourse in the democratically organized community of ancient Greece sowed the seeds of philosophy, science, medicine, and all that we have achieved in successful modern societies. There was a consensus on the parameters on settling differences and dealing with different opinion.

Giving people the freedom to express themselves with their individual unique qualities and giving them an environment where they can freely develop an innovative mindset and utilize their creative abilities to the full is the backbone of every successfull democracy.

In my home country South Africa the lights are literally going out in a collapsing economy and failing infra-structure because a ruling party has for the past decades replaced experienced and competent employees in key state industries and local governments with loyal party hacks or “cadres” who share the same ideology and party loyalty. The result: corruption, maladministration, and nepotism.

Autocratic or authoritarian systems stifle free speech. Those opposing the mainstream are villified, persecuted, and often killed. But on the long-term nothing can suffocate the human spirit and desire for free expression. Autocratic systems inevitably are doomed because nobody has the courage to tell the “emperor” the truth about what is happening on the battlefield or on the street. At some point all that has been suppressed boils over in an uprising or revolution.

The foundation of the democratic state is built on how we communicate with each other

The art of active listening is indeed becoming a rare art. How often have you caught yourself already formulating what you are going to say before the other person has even finished speaking? How often do we interrupt the other person before he or she has finished speaking? (A common trait by the way among marriage partners). How often are you drifting away from a conversation by breaking off eye contact and looking at “important” messages” on your cell phone?

At some educational institutions, it has become acceptable to shout down people expressing opposing viewpoints with so-called “political correctness” stifling healthy debate. On social media, there is little evidence of an exchange of ideas on controversial topics. It often evolves into slamming matches, bullying, and the exchange of personal insults.

On the one hand, we have become more connected than ever in human society but at the same time more disconnected.

Ancient Greece was abuzz with different ideas in energetic debate and conversation. Hundreds of people engaged and listened to different arguments in the marketplace and in the courts. People could cast their vote for what they perceived to be the best argument. In symposia and the theatre, there was a long debate and probing inquiry on fundamental questions of human existence.

Philosophers such as Socrates believed that through dialogue opinions could be tested and held accountable in the search for truth based on a rational mindset. Socratic dialogue is different from a discussion where two or more parties are trying to “win” an argument. Participants are engaged in active listening and effort in trying to understand each other’s different perspectives.

On a spiritual level universal intelligence, or God, has created diversity as a principle of creation. It is no coincidence that dynamic, and diverse cultures have also been most creative in the arts, music, technology, and medical breakthroughs.

But we seem to be at a crossroads where we have the choice of either falling back into stifling autocratic conformity or choosing a free, democratic society abuzz in creative discourse and creativity.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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How are you starting your day?

Integrating positive habits into your daily life very much determines the difference between managing your life or letting others take control. Calibrating yourself positively just after getting up in the morning can keep you on a higher energy frequency for most of the day.

We have those days when we wake up with a certain emotion such as melancholy sadness, fear, anger or anxiety, often triggered by a dream. A toxic emotion can also be triggered by reading a news item on your smartphone or watching the news while still half asleep. It then sets the tone for the rest of the day.

Humans are naturally attracted to negativity

It is easy to become subsumed by negativity because it is all around us. Mass media feeds on the notion of humans who are naturally attracted to negative news. It is part of our survival instinct. By heeding the information from a lonely wanderer that he had seen robbers in the woods we were able to avoid danger by taking a different route. Access to certain information could decide between life and death.

Reasserting control

How do you reassert control in an age where we are literally drowning in information while the mind is starving from lack of wisdom?

Calibrating the start of your day with a positive habit such as meditation, prayer, or gratitude ritual makes a huge difference to how your day will be. Think of three positive things for which you can be truly grateful before you go to bed at night and after waking up in the morning. I also like reading a positive quote or spiritual text that can act as an anchor if things start getting a bit overwhelming later in the day.

A body routine such as a few basic yoga, qi gong, or pilates exercise will vastly improve your energy level. I personally like to start with the tree posture aligning with heaven and earth before doing some stretchings and going through my tai chi form – which is an excellent slow-moving meditation.

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Emotional shifting

Emotional shifting is a method whereby you lift yourself from a negative emotional state to a positive emotion. If you are angry the first step is just accepting that you are angry. The next step is then to replace that angry feeling with the opposite feeling which would be love and acceptance.

Think of anything in your life where you have felt that deep fulfilling complete joy of unconditional love. You will immediately feel a different energy. You can also use the tapping method to transmute a negative emotion into a positive emotion.

How about fear and anxiety? The opposite energy is courage, faith, and trust. Focus on conscious breathing, inhaling, and exhaling through the nose. Inhaling I feel that fear and anxiety. Exhaling I have faith and trust.

You can find out more here on my walking, breathing and other online training exercises.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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Walking into health and well-being

Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.”

Henry David Thoreau

With most of us spending many hours a day glued to screens, going outdoors and taking a walk in nature is one of the easiest most simple ways of maintaining your physical and mental health, according to a growing body of research.

What avid walkers have known all along is being confirmed by science. Walking in the green and blue spaces of nature is healing on multiple levels.

Trees emit airborne chemicals, called phytoncides, used to protect themselves from insects. As we breathe in these phytoncides, our bodies respond by increasing the number and activity of a particular kind of white blood cell, called natural killer (NK) cells.

The term forest bathing or shinrin-yoku became popular in Japan in the 1980s. It is basically immersing or meditating in nature. Against the background of the increasing number of people with subhealth the Japanese researchers found that shinrin-yoku not only brings people with subhealth a healthy lifestyle but also offers complementary therapies to the sick. Subhealth is described as a condition between health and disease.

In the United States researchers monitored the intimate connection of trees to our physical health after the emerald ash borer decimated over a million trees in 15 states between 1990-2007. Less tree cover was linked to over 6,000 deaths from respiratory disease.

Stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol weaken the body’s natural defense systems, making it susceptible to cardiovascular and other diseases. By spending time in the green and blue spaces of nature you can reduce those stress hormones in your body significantly.

We can interact directly with nature by opening our senses to the sound of bird song, the aroma of herbs and plants, the rushing waters of a creek, or simply meditating on the beauty of a flower.

The British Psychological Society has studied the benefits of outdoor therapy, especially for care workers. Stabilization, mindfulness, and other sensory exercises like walking while paying attention to the five senses have been found to be particularly beneficial when compared to indoor therapy sessions.

We easily become disconnected from the natural world by spending most of our lives in offices and consuming digital media. This inevitably leads to a sedentary lifestyle. Coupled with lack of exercise, a poor diet of processed food and stress the modern lifestyle is exceptionally unhealthy. Average longevity has increased over the years but few people are asking the question about the quality of life. Typical metabolism diseases linked to lifestyle such as diabetes 2, obesity, cardiac disease, cancer, dementia and alzheimer are on the increase in most industrial nations.

How much low-impact exercise do we need per day?

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends at least 10,000 steps per day to reach a minimum fitness level. Most people working in office jobs are very far from reaching this target. Typically people working in a Call Center walk less than 1,500 steps per day. Studies conducted by the German Sport University in Cologne found that a low impact exercise programe for adolescents suffering from depression had a significantly positive effect on their mental state and reduced the risk of them suffering from depression later in life.

As the poet, artist and writer Jay Woodman said: “When you truly sing, you sing yourself free. When you truly dance, you dance yourself free. When you walk in the mountains or swim in the sea, again, you set yourself free.”

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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The absent father and male mental health crisis

The latest mass shooting in the United States by a young male suspect in Buffalo, New York, again throws the spotlight on hate crime, and fanaticism. It is necessary to talk about how children, especially boys, grow up and what needs to be done to give them more emotional, psychological, and spiritual stability.

Criminologists Michael Gottfredson and Travis Hirschi, found the absence of fathers to be one of the most powerful predictors of crimes. The lack of social bonds and the absence of the “father figure” as a role model for sons, providing structure, authority, and discipline are attributed as some of the key attributes lacking in violent youth.

Researchers Dr. Warren Farrell and John Gray, authors of “The Boy Crisis”, postulate that boys who grow up with an absent father or who don’t have a healthy relationship with their fathers lack a role model for healthy masculinity.

The “purpose void” and ultramasculine role models

Boys’ old senses of purpose, being a warrior, a leader, or a sole breadwinner, are fading. Many bright boys are experiencing a “purpose void”, feeling alienated, withdrawn, and addicted to immediate gratification. Compounding this issue are addicting video games that lead to distraction and ADHD, according to Farrell and Gray.

As boys become young men, their suicide rates go from equal to girls to six times that of young women! Girls seem to outperform boys at every level from education to job performance.

In some cases, these boys then seek ultramasculine role models, feeling empowered by arming themselves with weapons and joining almost exclusively male extremist groups.

These young men appear to be especially drawn to demagogic macho role models offering simple solutions to their own feelings of inadequacy and discontent. Religious minorities, immigrants, or different race groups are targeted. An idealized, orderly state of the past is recalled. A dystopian future lies waiting, ruled by a “fatherly” figurehead in a reborn patriarchy.

How do we confront this poisoning of the mind?

It has to be said that many single mothers bravely and with much personal sacrifice manage to raise healthy, successful, and caring sons. But we do need to look at why most violent crime is committed by men. In the United States, more than nine times as many men (5,037,000) as women (581,000) had ever at one time been incarcerated in a prison. Men also experienced higher victimization rates than females for all types of violent crime.

It takes a village …

The African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child”, highlights the role of family and community in shaping the life of a child. A Swahili proverb takes a similar vein:  “Whomsoever is not taught by the mother will be taught with the world.”

It has always been one of the most challenging tasks to raise a child. It is why in traditional African culture this was always seen as a communal responsibility. In our modern cultures the single mother is left without a support structure, having to deal with the double burden of raising a child and earning a living. Apart from the Nordic and some European nations little to no support is provided by the state in terms of pre-school child care and education. Governments fail to realize that the long-term social costs are much higher than providing adequate child support in the first place.

Stress resilience and mental health are built in those strong communities where children are not only bonded to the primary family but to an extended family of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and close friends. It’s where children learn social skills and values from role models who find sense of purpose in serving something greater than short-term self-gratification.

Photo by Keith Wako on Pexels.com

Individual needs versus social and community needs

Our culture has lost its way in over-emphasizing individual needs over the needs of the community and society at large. It’s part of the spiritual disconnect where pseudo-religious groups are replacing institutional religion in the form of extremist political tribes.

From the perspective of the tribal bubble, anyone who looks, believes, and dresses differently is perceived as a threat. Dehumanizing all those who are different is a hallmark of all extremist, religious, and nationalist groupings. The threshold to taking a gun and shooting those who are different becomes very thin, because empathy is felt only to members of one’s own tribe.

Where there is a spiritual connection there is an understanding of purpose. Love is experienced as unconditional and the basis of all life. God is life and God finds expression in nature.

Nobel peace prize laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu is quoted as saying: “Instead of separation and division, all distinctions make for a rich diversity to be celebrated for the sake of the unity that underlies them. We are different so that we can know our need of one another.”

God’s garden has never been homogeneous stagnation. It is one of beauty inhabited by diverse species, cultures, colors, religions, and beliefs in constant interaction, and interdependence with each other. We define and grow our values, heritage, and culture in a dynamic exchange between opposites. You just need to study nature in order to understand your higher calling.

Experiential spirituality is learning to understand the deeper meaning of self and how your life and purpose is inextricably intertwined with that of the larger whole. True happiness and contentment is found within, undestanding who you are, and emanating that core authenticity outwardly in kindness, love and tolerance.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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