Tag Archives: meditation

Are you into conspiracy theory?

A broad cross-section of people I have come across lately believe in conspiracy theories.  The argument mostly goes like this:  The world is being ruled by a small group of people who decide and control most of the things that happen in the world today from political decision-making to technological invention.

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Conspiracy theorists seem to have moved from the fringe to the mainstream.  Here is the top 10 list of conspiracy theories compiled by Time magazine:

Some conspiracy theories in history have in fact been proven true, like the Nixon cover-up in the Watergate affair, the Iran-Contra affair and the Libyan involvement in the terror attack on the Pan Am Flight 103 in December 1988.  One of the most absurd allegations during  South Africa’s apartheid era also turned out to be true many years later.  Research was actually being conducted on a virus that would only kill the blacks.

But there is a need to be a bit more  sceptical when it comes to some of the conspiracy theories out there. The common thread seems to be to find a way to explain in simplistic terms many of the events happening in a world of growing complexity. A lot of people have the tendency to form an opinion and then verifying what they believe with some information on the Internet. On closer scrutiny the article or website turns out to be a badly written diatribe of a single opinion without any valid sourcing or solid evidence

Take the story on the so-called “fake moon landing”. I cannot possibly imagine thousands of people working on such a complex space project over many years and all of them keeping a “fake made in a Disney film studio” a secret for decades. The world is so intricate and complex that the truth in the end always comes out. A cover-up, especially if many people are involved, simply doesn’t work. It is a human tendency to tell their family and friends “a secret.” Someone will always spill the beans.

The issue that needs to be addressed is the gullibility with which every half-truth, speculation and downright wacky theory is being claimed as truth while sound investigative journalism, scientific study or a judicial finding is being ignored or slammed as being part of this conspiracy thing. Part of the problem is that established media is not doing its job and has lost credibility by placing emphasis on superficial entertainment instead of being a watchdog on society and itself blasting some of these theories into the world without verifying the facts.  A growing number of people feel alienated in a fast-changing society and are seeking simple answers.

Conspiracy theories first and foremost feed on fear. Here lies the bigger problem. Fear breeds irrationality and a victim mentality. It is just a short step away from blaming a religious or racial minority, the politicians, the media or anyone else for all that is going wrong in the world.  It’s a “cop out” mentality of refusing to stand up and taking responsibility.

We have the freedom of choice on most things that matter. Health and personal happiness is a choice. It is a  choice of what we eat, how we exercise, what we read, what people, family and friends we want to spend our time with and especially what information we are feeding our minds with.

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Precious Silence

We have the great privilege of living out in the country. It’s winter and the time of the year when there are moments of serene silence. Taking our dog Klara for a walk is a real pleasure. Music to my ears is the odd clump of snow falling from a tree branch, the crunchy sound of my boots on the forest path and nothing else. Even the birds have migrated further to warmer southern Europe with a lonely

Robin or sparrow obviously not wanting to spend Imageenergy chirping against the cold.

When on a trip to the big cities the noise level is by contrast all the more startling. It is a scourge of the modern world that there is virtually no place to find solace. The sirens and other road noise is deafening. Any store you might enter will inevitably bombard you with the vibes of aggressive commercial radio stations. Can you think of any airport or public space without exposure from the electronic media?

Our senses have no time for relief. We are bombarded 24-7 with noise that stresses us at a conscious and subconscious level.

Sometimes I have visitors out here in the country who tell me that they cannot stand the silence. It makes them feel lonely. One person I know even needs the TV switched on all night to be able to sleep. Some kids out there are so addicted to their electronic media that they get aggressive if parents ask them to put the stuff away and to “communicate” . There are so many distractions out there, that there is no room left for contemplation. Alone time becomes “torture” in the same way a drug addict suffers withdrawal symptoms.

Noise stresses the brain and the nervous system on many levels, especially the pre-frontal cortex (PFC) that is also responsible for our ability to connect and to feel empathy with others. Noise and stress is in fact making us less human and can exacerbate psychological disorders such as depression. See this research: http://goo.gl/N7vhSh

The noise pollution caused by human activity is drowning that inner voice of the soul that seeks to tell us what is meaningful in life. Who are we really? What is our destiny at a soul level? Where are we heading in this life?

All the wise teachers throughout the ages recommend taking time out in nature. Natural sounds like bird song, the wind blowing through tree branches, spring water cascading against rock, raindrops falling on dry ground.

Such “time-out”moments can trigger real joy and a feeling of abundance, especially if we are forced to live in a noisy environment out of necessity. It grounds us and makes us connect back to the earth, the elements and our basic needs. One of the body arts that helps us connect with the above and below – of heaven and earth is Taiji. It was developed by Taoist monks in China thousands of years ago who, in observing the natural flow of movement by the animals, began integrating these movements in martial arts. Today more and more people are discovering for themselves these slow-meditative movements as an ideal way of de-stressing and re-connecting with the natural flow of nature.

How change can positively impact our lives

Noise pollution

WHO guidelines on noise levels

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Are we all in stress overload?

The fast-paced rhythm of modern life with all its ups and downs, often gives us the feeling that its too much and that we are really stressed-out. Hardly a day goes by at the workplace without people complaining that they have a “stress overload”. But is stress all bad?

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In principle stress the stress reaction in our bodies is part of our survival mechanism that dates back to the dawn of mankind. The early hunter on the plains of Africa meets a predator. A flood of stress hormones such as adrenalin and cortisol are released, causing an increase in blood pressure, the heart to pound faster, muscles to contract . All senses are put on alert. We are focused completely on confronting the danger ahead. “Where is the next tree? Do I run or use all my additional strength to throw my spear at the predator?”

 We might feel the same kind of “rushed” energy and focused attention when we are busy doing something we enjoy. Time seems of no relevance. We are in flow with what we are doing and the additional adrenalin gives us that extra push. This is the “stage fright” that most actors, singers or sports stars go through before giving an immaculate performance.

 The problem starts when stress gets out of control. When our body is more or less permanently flooded with stress hormones. We are practically confronting a predator for many days, weeks and even years. The long-term health effects are disastrous with every system in the body affected from high blood pressure, poor libido and even rewiring of brain functions that can cause severe fear and depression symptoms.

 Its all about finding the right balance between what we call the yin and yang.

 One part of the Taiji body art principles is finding the balance between muscles contracting and expanding, inhaling and exhaling, vertical and horizontal alignment, internal and external flow. These gentle movements are ideally suited to bring stress under control.

 So when do I know that I have too much stress and need to wind down?

 This differs from person to person. What one person might shake off and forget immediately another person might carry around for days severly stressing him/her emotionally – the worst kind of stress. Much is dependent on the personality. Are you an outgoing, joyful person at heart with a big family and support network? Or are you a pessimist. Can you deal with setbacks? How do you catch yourself again? What gives you strength and energy?

 The “collective burnout syndrome” we are seeing around us in essence means that something is out of balance, that there is too much yang – too much physical energy, thoughts, distractions, over indulgence spent on things that are harming us. We need more yin to bring that in balance such as meditation, stillness, the ability to be completely alone with ourselves, the ability to downsize and to abstain – seeing the beauty and abundance in small things. Now we can’t all go and escape into a monastery. We have family and other obligations. The challenge is to find that balance in our everyday lives. Here are just a few ways of getting quick stress relief:

 Get out into nature: Taking a short break for a walk in the park just listening to the birds and awakening the senses to smell, sight and sound will do a lot. Nearly all great teachers, leaders and philosophers from varied cultures and traditions have been strengthened by alone time in nature.

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 Thought control: Most chronic stress comes from an emotional disconnection from the world outside and our own needs. This, scientists have recently discovered, has a lot to do with the effects of stress on the prefrontal cortex of the brain. Taking a different perspective and just accepting that life has ups- and downs will help. Meditation exercises can really help.

 Physical exercise and nutrition: Even mild regular exercise will release pent-up pressure and tension. Reduce your white sugar and salt intake and feed your body with fresh organic foods with lots of Omega 3 and 6 nutrients. See also my blog on foods.

 

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