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meaning | ˈmēni ng |
noun
what is meant by a word, text, concept, or action
adjective
intended to communicate something that is not directly expressed

meaningful
| ˈmēni ng fəl |
adjective
having meaning
• having a serious, important, or useful quality or purpose


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Dealing with Anxiety

Hi Darwin:

It would be great to hear your advice on managing anxiety.


mandy

Hi Mandy,

I'm not sure why, but I feel like I should start my reply off by saying thanks. My life is very much dedicated to helping others and thus when that connection is made I'm grateful.

So let me start off by explaining that I'm not a big believer in our medical establishment's approach to treating depression or anxiety. I'm not against medication, but I believe our society has been dealt a dis-service in these drugs being positioned for long term care. Many people don't see results from anti-anxiety medication and my belief is that this is because they don't treat the root cause of anxiety.

My position on medication is that it should be used to help you get the clarity of mind and presence to deal with the root cause. If you're having frequent panic attacks then it would be difficult to work on the root cause. Thus if taking anti-anxiety medication provides you with the peace of mind to focus then that's great. But thinking that there is something wrong with you and that you need a drug to make you "normal" for the rest of your life...that sounds crazy to me.

I'm not a doctor and I don't play one on T.V. So please do anything I recommend without talking with your therapist of physician first. ;)

The good news is that I'm not trying to sell you any herbs, miracle techniques or anything else that costs $19.95.

The difficult news is that I have a completely different view on why we experience anxiety and depression. My wife has struggled with anxiety for the last several years and my approach has helped her.

Before we get to "what to do" we must first establish "what we are." Most people walk around believing that they are that voice in their head. Lots of new age people like to talk about "that voice" but few explain what we're supposed to do with it. So too a lot of people talk about changing our thoughts, focusing on the positive and lots of other mind tricks to change that voice in our head into something different. I think that's a huge waste of time.

I'm not sure if you're familiar with this concept, but if you're asking yourself, "What voice?" then it's that voice that you're having a conversation with about not having a voice in your head. But since you're dealing with anxiety, I think I can safely assume you know what voice I'm talking about. ;)

That voice isn't "you" but it is part of you. That voice is the internal dialogue of your Mind. As your Mind considers thousands of choices throughout the day, it considers each and every option. And with each option it "thinks" about the probable outcome, benefits and detriments. The internal dialogue that you're hearing is your Mind considering all the potential options. And listening to that dialogue can be a bit disturbing sometimes because our Mind considers both the sane and insane options in its review of all possible options.

And that's actually a good thing. You wouldn't want it any other way because you want your Mind to consider all the possibilities and make the right choice. Clearly your Mind is doing a great job with a nearly perfect track record of making good decisions. Sure, it makes the wrong choice once in a while, but considering the billions that it got right...statistically your Mind is doing an awesome job.

The point is that your Mind has a job to do (mainly to keep you alive) and thus there isn't anything wrong, broken or disabled about it. It doesn't have faulty wiring, a bad hormone dispenser or a broken controller. The one problem it does have is that it is an egomaniac. It wants all the attention and it doesn't trust anyone else to be in charge of you.

But you're more than just a Mind. You also have a physical Body that makes thousands of decisions every day to keep you alive. For example, your heart has over 40,000 embedded neurons (brain cells) that enable it to operate as its own intrinsic nervous system. With every beat of our heart, an electro-magnetic field is generated that is 5,000 times stronger than the field produced by our brain. This field is so powerful that it can be detected by electro-magnetic sensors over eight feet away from the Body.

And what is the purpose of the electro-magnetic field generated by the heart? It is one of four ways our heart communicates with the brain (The four ways that the heart communicates with the brain is through neurological impulses, biochemically via hormones, biophysically via pressure waves and energetically via the electro-magnetic field it generates).

Thus you are both a Mind and a Body. They communicate back and forth to function in the world and to keep you alive. When they are in balance, they work fluidly together.

But you're more than a Mind and the actions it commands your Body to do. In some way, you also have a Spiritual side to you. Thus instead of thinking of ourselves as a physical manifestation of that voice in our head, we should be conceptualizing ourselves as a Body, Spirit and Mind.

You've probably heard these terms discussed by thousands of new age practitioners. And when they're freaked out about mentioning God, they'll drop the Spirit and refer to us as the Body-Mind. But these are more than cute descriptions about our human nature, they actually represent what we are.

And thus you can think of yourself as the combination of your Body, Spirit and Mind. This is the part of the message where you might think I'm going to tell you to find Jesus, read the Bible and find a local church. Those are all great things, but that's not my point. And I personally don't think any of those things will eliminate anxiety in your life. You can pray until the cows come home and you'll still be dealing with anxiety.

Instead I'd like you to think of yourself as both the connections and the three parts of you as one. Thus your Mind is one part of you, but so too you have a Body that is a major component of the overall Mandy. But Mandy's Spirit is also a major component of you. You're all three combined.

But most of society operates as if they're only the Mind. They live a mental existence where their entire lives are lived according to the logical ways of the Mind. And as that relates to making decisions to keep us alive or driving on the freeway, that's great. But there are many things in life that can't be reduced to turning left or right, choosing right from wrong or making the best of a situation.

So the first step to alleviating anxiety is to bring one's self into a place of balance. Now I don't know how much you want to eliminate anxiety from your life, but if you're anything like my wife you would do almost anything to never have another panic attack, racing heartbeat or restless night. In fact, you might even want it out of your life so much that you'll take medications that have potential side effects that are really, really, really dangerous.

And like I said before, in the Spirit of obtaining peace of Mind and presence, that's fine. But my prescription for alleviating anxiety is designed to rid it from your life forever, rather than masking it to shut down your brain. But it takes work and requires more effort than taking a pill. It requires balance.

To conceptualize balance, imagine energy flowing throughout this new concept of Mandy. You are the combination of your Body, Spirit and Mind and the communications that flow between each part of you run along a meridian of energy. This is the part of the discussion where you might think I'm going to recommend you see an acupuncturist. But that too is not my point.

Instead of yourself, imagine this energy flowing between the three parts of someone that is perfectly in balance. Their Body, Spirit and Mind are working in harmony and each part of them is regularly nourished and cared for. There is no blockage, restriction or containment of this energy. Each part of them takes the energy it needs, puts it to use and allows it to continue flowing.

Instead of yourself, now imagine someone that is horribly out of balance. They spend their entire existence "in their heads," deny their Body exercise and have no spiritual connection to their own Spirit. Despite the connective bonds being incapable of being severed, these connections have atrophied like a muscle that hasn't been used in years.

As energy flows into this person, it is funneled to the Mind where it spins out of control. Overwhelmed with too much energy, the thoughts of this person accelerate and the consideration of every possible thought becomes magnified. Simple considerations become blown out of proportion simply because this energy is overwhelming the system.

With too much energy being funneled into the Mind, the excess energy spills over into the Body where this person directs it to their area of greatest need. For most people this is the heart, which symbolizes their longing for love, connection and to unite humanity. But with too much energy being held in the heart, it starts to suffer and reacts by racing with palpitations and aches.

Does that sound like anxiety?

Thus when people talk about treating anxiety through exercise, healthy eating, loving relationships and a connection to faith... they're on the right track. But our goal isn't simply to burn off this energy by directing it into other parts of our self. Our goal is to harmonize and bring the system into balance.

Balance is really hard when we don't know "what" to balance. Work, home, career, kids, parents, friends, housework, investments, personal time, exercise, (this list can go on forever).

But all we really need to do is balance our Body, Spirit and Mind. Every person is different in this regard, so there is no single prescription to bring these three parts of Mandy into balance. But you can start by asking yourself these three questions at the end of each workday:
  1. What have I done today to nurture my Body?
  2. What have I done today to nurture my Spirit?
  3. What have I done today to nurture my Mind?
If the answer to any of these is "nothing" then you know what you need to do that evening. The nurturing doesn't need to be huge. You don't have to run 5-miles a day to nurture the Body. Start with a healthy dinner and a walk around the block.

So too nurturing the Spirit doesn't require that you meditate every night or spend every waking moment at your house of worship. Starting with a short meditation or attending a prayer group is great start.

The Mind is the hardest to nurture because we already live a mental existence. To nurture the Mind is to expose it to a new experience. This can be as simple as taking a random topic, entering it into Google and clicking the "I'm feeling lucky" button. You can then learn whatever comes up.

Unfortunately all of what I've just shared with you is simply a prescription for just about anyone. Not specifically for someone that is dealing with anxiety. For anxiety, we actually need to investigate why you're getting so much of this energy in your life.

Remember the depiction above where your Mind is getting all this energy channeled to it without an outlet? In this, we need to ask ourselves why are we receiving all of this energy?

The answer comes from an understanding how the Body, Spirit and Mind communicate with one another. In my book Inspiration Divine, I go into explaining this in much greater detail, but I'll cut it short here and just explain that the Body talks to the Spirit, the Spirit talks to the Mind, and the Mind talks to the Body. If you draw this as a triangle with arrows showing the flow of communication you'll see how this is a closed loop.

The point here is that your Spirit is communicating and transmitting energy to your Mind. Your connection to your Spirit may be weak, but the connection is there and energy flows along that connection none the less. While your Mind and Body are constrained to the physical limits of your Body, your Spirit is not constrained an exists outside of the confines of your Body. Thus your Spirit is directly connected to God and the Spirits of other beings.

And thus we can see that our Spirit is not constrained by the logical thoughts of our Mind nor does it care about the physical limitations of our Body. Whereas the Mind cares about the logical reasons of "why," our Spirit only focuses on choosing love, uniting Humanity and expanding God's presence. So too your Spirit is not constrained by a temporal Universe (time based) and knows where you need to be in the future.

So imagine your Spirit living outside of the confines of your Body and Mind with a complete understanding of what is best for Mandy. And to help you accomplish your hopes and dreams, your Spirit is transmitting to you all the energy you need.

Now imagine yourself in balance. Each part of you is nourished on a regular basis and you're living your life in complete harmony with your Body, Spirit and Mind. You're in tune with your Spirit's communications and you take the energy provided to you and put it to work in the world (as it was intended). The energy flowing through you spreads to others as you choose love, unite Humanity and expand God's presence in the Universe (by creating that which didn't exist before).

Or your one of millions of people on the planet with a malfunctioning nervous system that needs pharmaceutical drugs to be "normal." I just can't accept this philosophy.

There are no quick fixes as the prescription here is more of a practice than a pill. As we struggle to deal with anxiety in our lives, we can look to ways that we can use this energy to unite humanity. My wife has established a relationship with a local women's shelter and when she gets her anxiety attacks she stops by to give them a hand. The point is by helping others we provide this life force energy an outlet in the world rather than bottling it up inside of us.

I know I've shared a lot with you here and it's a lot to digest. I hope I've provided you with a different way to view anxiety and a method for alleviating it. I personally believe that people that experience anxiety are those that are called to do great things in this world. Your Spirit is trying to get your attention by turning up the volume. We may not know now to listen, but by bringing ourselves into balance we begin to speak this language and make a difference in the world.

I truly hope you find peace and inspiration. If you're interested in this approach, I post quotes and inspirations daily on my Facebook Author Page.

Blessings,

darwin

Monday, December 14, 2009

Dear Darwin, What about a person who takes, takes, takes?

Dear Darwin:

Please tell me, what would you say to someone who is constantly taking all you have, not returning it, asking for more, and it happens all over again all the time. I want to help this girl and i do! all the time! but she doesn't want to help HERSELF! what do i do?????? I'm getting so tired of getting taken advantage of. I need to go do some yoga. please help me!

Stephanie

Hi Stephanie:

I can empathize with your situation as this is a very common issue with interpersonal relationships. When we put ourselves in a position to regularly help others, often times we encounter people that are attracted to our willingness to give. This isn't to say that these people are purposely trying to take advantage of us, but rather that they've developed a repeating pattern of drawing energy from others.

The first thing we should always do in these situations is to have compassion for the other person. A person in balance wouldn't operate in this manner and thus we can immediately recognize that they're out of balance. Thus, without balance, they're unable to attain the strength and energy necessary to objectively see their behavior or chart a course of change. Nobody wants to be in a situation of continually needing help from others and by approaching resolution through compassion we can engage the person with love.

We've all met people like this in our lives and our Minds have fabricated lots of different stories about why these people are the way they are. But what we should recognize is that their behavior is the result of a number of factors rather than a single factor. Our logical Minds love to come up with patterns and no doubt we've discovered part of their reason for acting this way. But there is always much more to the story than meets the eye.

The bottom line is that they are not thriving and, through their relationship with you, they're able to derive a bit more energy into their life. When this is communal, this exchange of life force energy is both healthy and central to being human. However, when this energy is flowing primarily in one direction, it can be unhealthy for everyone. Unfortunately, these "energy suckers" are often unaware of their unbalanced ways and thus talking to them about the problem rarely resolves the situation.

Instead, we should take our lay-psychologist hats off and instead envision the relationship as a back and forth, flowing of energy. I know this sounds like fluffy, metaphysical jargon but hear me out. For starters, let's describe ourselves, not in the way that voice in our head describes, but rather as we truly are:

"You are the collective consciousness that radiates from the connections between your Body, Spirit, and Mind." - Inspiration Divine, p 22.

Thus, instead of simply being a physical manifestation of that voice in your head, you're actually the active combination of the Body, Spirit and Mind. If you look closely at this sentence, you'll see that you are the "connections" between the Body, Spirit and Mind:
  • You're not your Body, because you'll continue to exist after your dead and buried.
  • You're not your Mind, as you're more than just that voice in your head.
  • You're also not simply your Spirit, as your Body and Mind play an active, participatory role in your life.
In essence, you are both the connections and the individual entities at the same time.

As we imagine sensations, feelings and thoughts flowing between the Body, Spirit and Mind we can visualize these communications as pure energy. A thought originates in the Mind, which causes the Body to act and the Spirit to react. In a healthy and balanced individual, this natural flow of energy exists in effortless harmony. As you can see, keeping ourselves in balance is key to living an enlightened life.

Now visualize two people in a harmonious relationship. Rather than the sensations, feelings and thoughts flowing within the individual, they are shared and exchanged between the two. This ebb and flow of energy is central to being human and our social nature is by Divine intent. We are called to love one another and unite all of Humanity. Thus when we interact with one another we share much more than sensations, feelings and thoughts...we exchange energy with one another.

However, when we encounter someone who is out of balance they tend to take more energy than they give. Most people tend to avoid people like this because they find these people to be draining, exhausting and even depressing. In the cosmic exchange of energy, these people are living off of the energy of others.

There have been times in our lives when we too have operated like this. We all have unfortunate times in our lives when we need the helping hand of another. Each of us can recall a time in our lives when we needed help and our friends and/or family were there for us. Our nature is to help one another and during these times of imbalance in our lives we sincerely appreciate those that give without expectation of return.

But some people unknowingly become stuck in this way of living their lives. Through years and years of repeating this same pattern in their lives, they've developed a dependency on other people to help, guide and even rescue them. Often these people have trouble maintaining long term relationships with friends and family as they have become accustomed to seeing people through the eyes of what they can do for them. They live in a world of expectation and thus are missing the communal blessings of balanced relationships.

Forgive them Lord, for they know not what they do” Luke 23:24

Unaware of their imbalanced ways, these people are not conscious to the damage they're causing in their relationships or of the balanced life they could be living. And because they've developed deep, repeating patterns (ruts) in their mental approach to life, talking to them about this situation is rarely effective. The reason is that they're living their lives entirely within the logical constructs of their Minds. Thus when you talk to them, they're only hearing you through the isolated consciousness of their Minds.

To effect change, they must move to a more balanced approach to life where the Body, Spirit and Mind are all participating in the conversation. Again, remember you can't convince them of this by talking to them about it. Without the lines of communication flowing between their Body, Spirit and Mind, your words will simply be logically referenced against their pre-existing construct of life. In this construct of life, you are a source of energy. And if you're not going to supply them with the energy they need to thrive, they're not going to continue the relationship. Hence, why talking to an unbalanced person about balance rarely works out.

Therefore, to help someone who has developed this approach to life, we must do two things:
  1. Set Healthy Boundaries - to protect oneself in this exchange, we should establish healthy boundaries when we are of sound Body, Spirit and Mind (e.g. when we're calm, rather than reacting to a situation). We seek boundaries that allow us to help the person, but also have defined limits. Although you'll likely be ignored, you should communicate these boundaries to the other person and stick to them.
  2. Engage their Body, Spirit and Mind - it is impossible for the connections between the Body, Spirit and Mind to be severed, but they can become atrophied like a muscle that hasn't been used for years. We can help the other person turn this around by inviting the other person to join us in activities that nourish the Body, Spirit and Mind. For example, going to the gym together, taking a meditation class together or joining a reading club.
As more energy begins to flow into their life via their own Spirit, they'll naturally move away from being dependent on others for this life force energy. When these connections begin to blossom, they'll be opening up to their true self. As a good friend, you'll be there to guide them along the way and help them over the small bumps in the road. Through modeling a balanced life, they'll slowly find ways to regain balance in their own life.

In every relationship, we play the role of Father, Mother or Child. People who drain energy from others have become stuck in a child phase rather than developing. Helpless to recognize that their gestation period has passed, they're insuring that they remain in this phase of life by refusing to stand on their own two feet. What they don't realize is that we regularly cycle through the phases of Father, Mother and Child in our lives and this means that someone needs them to play the role of Father or Mother in their life. By not progressing with their own development, someone else in their life is struggling. Someone else is unable to move onto their next phase in life, because this person isn't evolving. By helping them find balance and the flow of God's life force energy in their life, we not only help this person but also the people who need them.

We live in a cause and effect world where we want simple and definitive solutions to our problems. Instead of working towards a solution, our Western Minds crave absolutes and instant fixes (hence the predominance of anti-anxiety and anti-depression medications on the market). We usually like to tackle a problem head on and confront it with brute force. However, this is an un-compassionate approach to someone who is struggling with imbalance in their life. Without communications and energy flowing through their Body, Spirit and Mind, their lives are hard, difficult and a struggle. We seek to truly help them by guiding them to a place of balance where energy flows through them, rather than to them.

Before I close, I must add that I love the fact that you answered your own question. In final line, you said you needed to take a yoga class. And as yoga is the balance of the Body, Spirit and Mind...you were already on the path to the answer of your own question.

Blessings,

Darwin Stephenson

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Dear Darwin, What about Forgiveness?

Dear Darwin,

What advice would you give someone who has forgiveness, but has not been forgiven.

Patty

Hi Patty:

Ironically today I also was invited to join a group on Facebook dedicated to Forgiveness. So I guess you could say that forgiveness is the theme of the day.

I find a lot of beauty in the simple precepts that I've been given and write about in Inspiration Divine. I particularly find them beneficial in my life as they apply in so many situations. As you'll recall, they are:

1. Choose Love.
2. Unite Humanity.
3. Expand God's Presence in the Universe.

I believe that forgiveness ties into both choosing Love and uniting Humanity. When we forgive someone else (regardless of sharing that forgiveness or not) we actually change the Universe because we are letting go of the emotional binds that prevent us from growing. Without forgiveness, we are hopeless to avoid the same mental ruts that we follow over and over again in our lives. In this, our past becomes our future because we are using the same script over and over again in our lives.

In forgiving another, more life force energy is directed into our lives because we are nurturing our Spirit as opposed to following yet another logical repeat performance of our Mind. Our Spirit desires us to choose love and unite humanity so it is directly nurtured when we forgive others. And thus our forgiving directly channels more of God's energy into our lives.

But your question was about not being forgiven, rather than forgiving...

In this, I feel that we're also drawn to love and uniting humanity; but in this regard this a longing for which we have no control. We cannot bring someone else to choose forgiveness as this is an awakening that one can only come to through their own discovery. And this is particularly hard when we long to be forgiven or seek forgiveness for a loved one.

My advice would be to forgive the person for not being forgiving. I know this sounds like a circular reference, but try to look at it from a flowing of energy perspective. As you forgive someone, more life force energy flows into both of your lives. Much like your Spirit is nurtured in this exchange, their Spirit so too is nurtured. And like priming a pump, this can be the kick-start of awakening that opens them up to forgiveness.

We truly aspire to be forgiven so that the other person can experience the beauty and bliss of forgiveness. Although we feel blessed to be forgiven, it is actually our love for the other person that drives this desire. In essence, we want them to feel the love that comes through forgiveness.

There is no way to mentally force forgiveness to happen as this gift comes through a connection to Spirit rather than the Mind's logical ways. This is why you can't convince someone to forgive. Thus we can really only influence this Divine transformation of another by loving and forgiving them ourselves. And that take time.

Hope this helps and I hope you can find the forgiveness you seek.

Blessings,

darwin

Thursday, December 10, 2009

God Bless America

In these times of struggle, we Americans understand the true meaning of hope. Our lives are filled with conflict ranging from the challenge some face to put food on the table for their children to fighting for our country's security half way around the world. We know there is a better day in our future and we persevere because that is what we Americans do. We are no strangers to struggle and we inherently know that brighter days are ahead.

Our elected politicians face the daunting challenge of piloting our future, while representing the needs of today's community. And while they are talented and skilled, we are to be reminded that they are human. Like our personal struggle to prosper, they too are doing the best they can and we trust that they have our best interest at heart. In this, we Americans also know the true meaning of trust.

Our one nation under God faces struggle in the plurality of our religious diversity. The golden rule to treat thy neighbor as thy self emerges from God's role in our life and we are reminded at this time of year that all God loving beings aspire for peace. There is no enemy in peace and we aspire for a day when brotherly love is known to all.

Let today be the day that we find hope, trust, peace and love in our lives. Let us model for the world the American way of life in which we look past our differences and find commonality in the future of humanity. Let each of us find a way to make a difference the life of another. And, in this, let God bless America.

Darwin Stephenson

in reference to: The White House (view on Google Sidewiki)

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Beauty of Oprah

So let's pause for a moment and consider Oprah's contribution to the world outside of the topical discussion of the day. Throughout history and any given day in your life, there are voices that awaken you.

That awakening may be a new perspective or as simple as a new way to organize your living room. The point is that this change in awareness came about through another person. In this case, it came about through the world of communications that is Oprah. And regardless of what you think about the topic of the day, this introduction of new information into your life is a potential seed of change.

We all can't be Oprah, but we can learn from this simple model of sharing. Creating and sharing with others is elemental to the human condition. And while we may quibble over what is the right topic to share, we can reflect on the divine nature of this exchange. We are all creative, spiritual beings that are called to create that which did not exist before and share it with others in our lives.

It is said that, "to give is better than to receive." We often say this around holiday moments in our lives, but is this not also true in our everyday existence? In those moments when we have helped someone without expectation, we catch a glimmer of the true love of humanity.

With the pace of life increasing at a breathtaking pace, it is sometimes difficult to see the benefits of our sharing. And that is the crux of the problem. When we do not receive feedback from our sharing, we wrongly assume that there was no value given or received. But this is merely our egoic Mind trying to logically control our life. When we let go of the expectation associated with our giving, we shift our consciousness to a more spiritual state. And in this loving exchange without expectation, we find ourselves experiencing the same love that we found when we helped someone.

What Oprah has done is built a worldwide system for sharing. Her messages touch more people than could ever possibly provide her feedback. Yes, her production team surely monitors how this content is received, but beyond the qualitative measures that guide the show there is an expression of sharing that goes beyond the commercial enterprise. And I would argue that her success comes directly through the value of sharing.

As spiritual beings, we too can find ways to share with others in our life. Try it out today by simply sharing something you've learned with someone else. I think you'll be surprised how this small act of generosity can spark change. And we all could use a bit more spark in our lives.

Namaste,

Darwin Stephenson
Author of Inspiration Divine

in reference to: Oprah.com - Live Your Best Life - Oprah.com (view on Google Sidewiki)