Friday, November 18, 2011

Insights from dreams

Dreams as a mere subconscious activity are passe. Youngsters today record their dreams on a daily basis to get an insight into their minds.

Be it a garish nightmare or a spaced-out daydream, dreaming has been a mystery to the human mind. While some of us forget our dreams, others remember it to the last detail. What is it about this mystical phenomenon that is so alluring? Ignorant as we are, there are some who attempt to keep in touch with their subconscious by penning down their dreams in what is called a 'dream diary' - a record of dreams.

Youngsters have, of late, started maintaining dream diaries in an attempt to get in touch with their subconscious self. However, brace yourself because the other side is quite twisted!

Apart from the fact that you can go back to your dreams and have a ha-ha moment, the use of a dream diary can have a tremendous effect on improving future dream recall. Besides the confusion it causes, maintaining dream diaries has other drawbacks too. One is, what is often called as the false awakening! For example, The habit of waking up to record sometimes leads to what is called a false awakening, where the dreamer records the previous dream while still in the dream. This thought is quite disturbing as the dreamer isn't aware of his own bodily actions at this point. Dr Michael Lennox, a psychologist, has been deeply influenced by Carl Jung's (founder of analytical psychology) theories and he talks about how dreams work. It is a proven fact that nightmares help you process very deep levels of fear. "Life can be scary and brutal, but we can't function if we were living in that place where you're scared. In fact, it is through these dreams that you survive the ordeal so you can wake up the next day and do it all over again," says Michael Lennox. The unconscious mind is a gateway to the soul.

Psychologists say that when you decide to keep a dream diary, and your are that subconscious consciously . " is I a big step think to allowing talk to the knowing to you. yourself really unconscious mind wants to speak to us. That's why dreams repeat with the same theme. In effect, they are just trying to get your attention," says he. Vidya Ravi, a masters student explains how she has been maintaining a diary for the last two years. "The experience has been an eye opener. I didn't understand the psychology behind writing it down then, but as I started reading it, I gained more insight into my mind." Vidya maintains an online blog to record her dreams every morning. An enriching experience, Vidya explains that her dreams have been a pattern of what she does in a day or maybe even days before. But contrary to that, Rahul Nair feels that writing his dreams down didn't help him much. "I developed a block in my writing. I am a journalist by profession and writing dreams down created a gate between my creativity and my dreams. It was as if, I wrote too much and I was saturated to write anymore," he laments. Rahul soon stopped his habit and instead chose to just remember them.

Now, the question is if it is really healthy to have a dream diary. And the answer is definitely 'yes'! People must dream, else their head will explode. It's a scientifically proven fact that if you lost REM (Rapid Eye Movement or that stage of sleep where people dream) sleep for a night, you'd have a psychotic break down. Dreams reflect hidden unconscious motivations, fear, blocks, limitations, joys. College students have longer REM hours while preparing for their exams. It's a proven fact that we learn things in REM sleep

But here's the real beauty of dream thoughts; there is no right or wrong way. Dreams are doing their job whether we remember them or not. People who write down their dreams begin to have more vivid dreams and also have a better memory. We gain soul clarity in dream process. Go ahead, get yourself a dream diary! See what wonders your subconscious can conjure up.

Return to innocence

Live from the heart; with an open heart, you can feel things as they are without the burden of past conditioning, writes Paula Horan

Happiness is something we all unconsciously seek and more so when times get tough. Ironically, I have discovered, after many years of trial and error, that happiness is not the ideal objective. Life is fraught with ups and downs, even in the best of times. There will always be periods of happiness and periods of pain, comfort and discomfort. Thus the equanimity which fosters contentment is perhaps a wiser aspiration which when pursued, requires us to wake up to who we are, minus the veil of ego.

It is eminently more practical, to get in touch with and anchor ones attention with the true self - the awareness within us which is unaffected by life's ups and downs - than to try and "fix" the mind and make it happy. Fixes are always only temporary. It behoves us to discover the 'beingness' that we are, which rests in a perfect state of equanimity, no matter what outer circumstances may be; whether they are good or bad.

Shed your ego
It is ultimately who we are, minus ego identification. This presence is always with us, for it is our essential nature, yet while we are identified with a busy mind, we fail to notice it. A certain shedding of mental burdens has to happen so that it can be felt and directly experienced. The most direct way to do this is to shed the burdened one with all of its various masks. For this to occur, the illusory experiencer (ego) has to be unveiled.

From this perspective, the problems and challenges of everyday life take on a whole new meaning. All at once, nothing changes and yet everything changes. We cease to take life so personally because we realise there is no "personal" self to begin with. Instead, we begin to perceive the vastness of who we are: wholly indefinable, wholly unknowable.

As we begin to feel and experience this vastness, it is clear that we can never know with the intellect the unlimited spaciousness of That. You begin to notice what quantum physics has made very clear, that there is only one vast continuum of energy. There are no real boundaries between us. Even the body's sack of skin, which seems to set us apart and separate us from other similar bodies, is ultimately a formless vibrating frequency of energy when viewed with a subatomic microscope.

Ignore past conditioning
As we begin to peek through the boundaries of the conceptual mind, our previous comfort zone, bound by our encyclopaedic memory of the past, with continued noticing, loses its hypnotic quality. The freshness of living a true present, unaided by past programming, gradually becomes more appealing.

To remove the veil of ego is not easy. All of samsara and its fantasies beckon us to remain complacent and to settle for far less. It requires fortitude and a kind of fierceness which is willing to surrender again and again to the will of the heart and cut through the slothful meandering mind, to make it through the mire of conditioned thought. Ultimately, an intense degree of vigilance, a willingness to stay open and present with what is, is necessary to regain our sanity. No less than a fierce sort of innocence is needed to cut through the bewilderment of an ego identified with what isn't really so.

Live from the heart
What is called for now, is a return to innocence, an innocence which must be intensely present with what is. Fierce energy keeps us in the present. The fierceness is not to protect our innocence, for it needs no protection, but to make it come alive, to fuel an open heart. Contrary to what we normally think, true strength lies in the vulnerability of an open heart; not in a heart which is closed. With an open heart, we can feel things as they are without the burden of past conditioning.

When we are fully present in our heart, we cannot be fooled. Unlike the ego-automatic mind which can easily be conned because it cannot feel; it can only think dualistically. The heart can easily tune in with the hearts of others and feel their motivation and their real need. When we can feel the motivation behind others' actions, which are often, fear based, we are less likely to fall prey to the same fear ourselves. Instead, we can choose to react in a loving way which often disarms fear, or if needed, we can use tough love which can also produce the desired effect. Either way, a return to innocence enables us to circumnavigate the illusory ego's clever roadblocks and live from the heart.

Riding the storm of life

We do not have to go to the foot of the Himalayas to attain inner peace. We also do not need to renounce everything before attaining quietude.

Instead, we can live day to day in inner quietude. If we look at all of life's experiences and their disturbing content with inner eyes, the disturbances we undergo will remain at the periphery. Deep down there will be an emotional quiet.

Inner peace is all about coping. If the unpleasant and painful memories remain too long with us, we will not make the transition that we are called to make from restless non-acceptance to quiet acceptance.

We are in a win-win situation when we accept the challenge of living, discriminating how far we should go along a certain track, who we should relate to in more intimate terms and those we need to distance because their values are so disparate from our own.

If we are self-sacrificing and wise, we will remain calm and tranquil despite the provocations we face. We do not avoid difficult people and circumstances, but learn to deal with them by distancing ourselves from them and building on relationships that bring happiness.

Withdrawal is an option but it would lead to disengagement and non-involvement and that does not bring required results. The inner peace we crave for comes after traversing a long passage. Learning with experience, we begin to take things in our stride. It's not all that easy, though.

There are many ways to cultivate and build on inner peace. We could set some time aside daily for prayer and meditation. Disproportionate understanding can blow up the way we perceive things. We could spend quiet time in the garden, in silent communication with plants and trees. We endure life's storms and learn to absorb its shocks and we find that we are, in fact, in the midst of all these circumstances, communing with God, a tangible presence in our lives.

Coping is not just reactive, it's proactive, too. We pick up the mantle thrown to us and practise patience, detachment, endurance, serenity and acceptance of all that comes our way. To overcome obstacles and difficulties we need to develop coping skills that encompass emotional, mental and spiritual needs.

The only difference between the wise and the foolish is that the wise learn to cope with reality and transform it and the foolish get swept away by the ups and downs of life.

Life is uncertain; it is unpredictable. It is also unfair, it seems. But in learning to cope with all the ups and down of life, we begin to live a full life.

There is the parable of the wise man in the gospels who built his house on rock. It withstood all the rains and storms. On the other hand, the man who built his house on sand watched his house get destroyed in the rain and storm. Hence, we need to cultivate rock-like resilience and welcome attributes that will help us to cope. The reward of inner strength is inner peace. Right here, in your living room, your workplace, in your family you will find inner peace. We do not have to look too far.

Once we learn to cope, the going will be easier and there will be no need for camouflage. There is no need to hide our real selves. We will be able to stand up and meet life on our own terms. And experience the fulfilment of a pilgrimage well weathered.

Receipt, reaction and response

When we contact the world, three distinct transactions take place: Receipt of stimuli from the world, reaction within your personality and response to the world.

Stimuli from the world reach you through your organs of perception. Colour and form enter through your eyes, sound through ears, smell through nose, taste through tongue and touch through skin. Having entered therein the stimuli react with your mind and intellect. The type of reaction that will set in will depend upon the type of stimulus contacted and the nature of the mind and intellect reacting with it. Consequent to the reaction your mind and intellect send out responses back into the world through your organs of action.

Take for example your present experience of reading this. Your eyes are taking in the stimuli in the form of letters and words. These stimuli reach your mind and intellect. A reaction sets in. It generates a particular type of feeling and judgement depending upon the quality and texture of your mind and intellect. To some, what is generated may be favourable and they will respond positively, continuing the study. To others the reaction may be unfavourable; they will respond negatively and discontinue the study.

The three transactions - receipt, reaction and response -- are constantly taking place in your life. The human system and mechanism resemble the working of a factory. In a manufacturing process also there are three main operations. Raw material is fed into the factory at one end. The material is processed by machines. The manufactured products are drawn out and despatched at the other end. For best results all three operations have to be perfected. Raw material taken in must be of good quality. Machines tuned up and operated properly. End products tested to meet requirements standards. So also the three transactions of life have to be regulated properly to ensure blissful existence in this world.

You are aware that your sense organs constantly perceive sense objects of the world. All sorts of stimuli reach your personality. Check their quality. Avoid inflow of impure and unhealthy stimuli; they create mental agitations. They are germs which cause psychological diseases. Examine the type of sights that your eyes see, the food that your tongue tastes... Control and regulate your perceptions to ensure inflow of pure and healthy stimuli.

Having controlled your perceptions you must next examine the reactions taking place in you. You may regulate and receive healthy stimuli and yet they may produce unhealthy reactions like jealousy, greed and lust. These reactions are inevitable as they depend upon the nature of your existing mind and intellect. There are two ways of controlling the reactions. The initial and temporary way is to become aware of them and check their effects from spreading further. A permanent control is achieved by rehabilitating your mind and intellect. Vedanta helps you to exercise both controls.

The third transaction is the response transmitted by your mind and intellect through the organs of action. Examine the quality of actions perpetrated by your body. If the actions are selfish and self-centred, they tell upon your life. They agitate your mind; they make you unhappy. To avoid this, your actions have to be unselfish. Apply Vedantic knowledge in your day-to-day living. You will experience peace and happiness.

Wherever and whatever you are, perfect these three transactions. No two individuals fit the same descriptions. We are a heterogeneous mixture of personalities. Every individual's nature is best suited for his own evolution.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Conserve some of that energy

Spiritual ecstasy is far more pleasurable than what you feel in the physical body, says yoga and kundalini expert, Gopi Krishna With scientific investigation many facts will come to light about how sexual behaviour has to be regulated. As a general formula, you have to see how much time must elapse afterwards before you are able to indulge again without a feeling of regret, strain, or guilt. That will give you the time span quite correctly. It is the sex energy that creates the spirit, the creativity in us.

Perhaps you know that when animals are castrated, like a horse or a bull, they become very docile and weak. Their spirit is lost. Excess of sexual indulgence is also a self-castration. The vim, zeal and zest for life is lost. The individual functions as a normal being. He attends to his office and does everything. But he is not able to do what he could do if he were to use this energy sparingly. He loses the chance. It is a disservice to humankind to suggest that people should indulge in sexual activity unrestrainedly.

A rat was put in a cage and an electrode was attached to the pleasure centre in his brain. When the current was on, the pleasure centre was excited. And when it was off, it was disconnected. The rats were taught how to move the lever that gave the pleasure sensation. They went round and round, always touching the lever that gave them the pleasure sensation. They went on doing it until they were exhausted and fell down unconscious. Once they were revived and put into the cage again, they did the same thing; they went round and round.

Should we do the same? Should we bargain our future, our life hereafter, for this sensation, which often leaves us disgusted and weak afterwards? Wait for a longer period and you will find that you have greater pleasure. You will have more love for your partner. The Upanishads were the first to declare that consciousness is the real basis of the universe. Among those who gave the first teachings to mankind, not one was a celibate. We are not called upon to repress this urge. But we are certainly bound to moderate it if we want to live happy, creative lives; if we want to maintain the spirit in us in a bloom; if we want to make the best use of our brain and our energy; and if we want to give the right heritage to our progeny.

Experience the rapture Imagine a couple that loves each other intensely, almost to death, who are separated by some circumstances, then come together again after some years. Imagine the intensity of the pleasure and the love when they embrace. Multiply it a hundred times and you can have a little foretaste of the rapture which fills the brain when you are one with Cosmic Consciousness. This has been considered to be the greatest happiness possible to man. It is for this reason that it is known as satchitananda.

Ananda means extreme bliss. Sat means truth, and chit means consciousness. This union of the human soul - it is not union, because soul is already the infinite - is only the breaking through of the veil of maya, which obstructs its vision. And when this liberation occurs, it becomes satchitananda. The Upanishads compare it like this: If the pleasure of love were one unit and the pleasure of reaching Heaven were a hundred such units, then thousands of such units would make up the ecstasy of Brahmajnana - the knowledge of Brahmn.

This is also known by the terms ecstasy, rapture and ravishment. It is so intense that the mystics faint. It is not possible for the human mind to bear such happiness, when once he is face-to-face with the creatrix of the universe; when one knows one's own majesty; when one knows that he and the beloved object, the universe, are one. It is attended by such intense rapture that all the rapture of this earth is but a faint reflection. In fact, when you experience this rapture of love you are experiencing but a glimpse of your own self, still veiled.

Unity for effective governance

With growing global interdependence, different social organisations are proving anachronistic. Attempts to advance human prosperity and well-being can no longer ignore this reality. To progress, we need to harmonise and coordinate our activities on local, national and global levels. To be effective, approaches to governance at all levels will need to be informed by the principle of the oneness of humanity. That humanity constitutes a single people, with shared interests and aspirations, appears deceptively simple, yet it constitutes a fundamental challenge to inherited assumptions and practices in the field of governance.

Much like the human body, the increasingly interdependent body of humanity is composed of diverse elements whose well-being can only be achieved through integration and coordination. No cell or organ lives apart from the human body, and the well-being of each cell derives from the well-being of the whole. At the same time, it is the unity and interdependence of the body's diverse cells and organs that permits the full realisation of the distinctive capacities inherent in each. The organic unity that is implied by this analogy has profound implications for the structures and processes of governance within communities at all levels.

These implications can be appreciated by considering the function of power in human affairs. Governance has frequently been characterised by self-interested and competitive expressions of power. Such expressions may have served only specific groups. But these are discordant under conditions of heightened social and ecological interdependence, in which the welfare of every individual and group is dependent on the welfare of the entire social body. These conditions call for the development of new modes of governance at all levels, embodying the unifying and mutualistic exercise of power.

The oneness of humanity, and the mutualistic exercise of power that is associated with this principle, have profound implications for governance. Take gender equality. Even though the well-being of women and men is inseparably linked, women worldwide continue to be excluded from significant decision-making processes within the home, local communities and in national and international arenas. Exclusion leads to marginalisation of half the population in many decision-making processes. For communities to advance and prosper, gender equity is necessary.

Inclusion of women in governance is thus an essential expression of the principle of oneness. This principle applies to the full range of human diversity. Therefore, unity does not imply uniformity within a social body. On the contrary, it is the diversity of the component parts of an organic body that permits the full realisation of its collective capacity. Within human societies, diversity is a source of collective capacity, creativity, productivity, resilience, innovation and adaptation. Only when diverse segments of human society contribute equally to the governance of human affairs, within a unified and coordinated framework, will real prosperity and well-being be achieved.

What are the practical implications of these principles and insights for the structure and selection of leadership and authority in systems of governance - and for process of collective decision-making and implementation, and for reflective learning from implementation? And what are the practical implications for the training and education of citizens and public servants, which will be needed to support such structures and processes? Contributed by the Baha'i department of external affairs on the occasion of the birth anniversary of the Bab, the Prophet-herald of the Baha'i faith

You Are Not Your Ego

While ego can make you aggressive, self-esteem helps you grow. MALLIKA BHATIA points out the differences and tells you how to tame your ego and boost your self-esteem.

If you hold good self-esteem, you like yourself. Others automatically perceive you as likable. You approve of yourself and are in balance overall. Saying ‘No’ is not a problem when you don’t agree with an idea. You are sure of yourself and others around you.

False Sense Of Arrogance
Ego, on the other hand, is defined as “an exaggerated sense of self-importance”. Buddhism defines the ego as “an illusive mental phenomenon with which we identify and cling due to ignorance”. It is the selfish feeling that “everything is about me and for me”. It can become all-consuming, leading to a false sense of grandeur and making one function out of a compulsion to fulfill one’s unrealistic desires.

These unrealistic desires are mainly about self and the image one portrays, about being the centre of attention always; about a need for everyone to agree with us. They can also be to get credit for everything, the desire never to be wrong and other self-defeating cravings.When these cravings and desires increase, they lead to greed, jealousy, hatred and a deep sense of insecurity and eventually a blow to where it all started from — the ego.

Most people are unaware of their ego. They are even unaware of the distinction between their self-esteem and ego. According to author Wayne Dyer, “Ego is simply an idea of who you are that you carry around with you”. It may be an image that one has created in one’s mind. This image may or may not be true but one does everything to preserve that image, getting defensive in the process.

When a person is operating out of ego in any conversation, they will want to be the centre of attention, not truly listen to the other person, often believe they know everything and compassion and respect for others’ viewpoint will be missing.

Healthy Sense Of Self-esteem

It is necessary to understand where we use the ego in our everyday behaviour and where we actually function from a healthy sense of self-esteem. As Pastor Nathaniel Boranner Jr puts it, “Ego often has a voracious appetite; the more you feed it, the hungrier it gets.”
Hence, it is necessary to understand where we use ego in our everyday behavior and where we are actually functioning from a healthy sense of self-esteem.

This is not difficult to develop. Here are a few tips to boost your self-esteem:
  • Be open to admitting your faults. No harm in apologising.
  • Learn from your mistakes and use feedback for self-improvement.
  • Always have a purpose and direction in life and value yourself.
  • Try to understand others’ viewpoints and respect differences.
  • Act respectfully with everyone, even those who work under you.
  • Believe that you are good, but there is still scope for improvement,

Need To Be Appreciated

For the ego, the belief is “No one is better than me” and hence, no one can teach me anything new. In an everyday example, when one is operating out of ego, one is often impolite, even rude to people one considers “lower or less important” than oneself. But someone with a healthy self-esteem will always treat everyone with respect.To quote the Bhagavad Gita, “The ego is a false identity crafted to preserve the sense of being the most significant and the most important all the time.” In short, it is a narcissistic search for being loved, validated and appreciated.”

So remember, your greatest enemy is your own inner perception, your own ego. The ego disguises its feelings as your feelings, its thoughts as your own, and people think it is you. An ego is pseudo and comes from insecurity. Look for the true authentic and secure you