Archive for February, 2012

A Rippling Thought

by JW
I was sitting one morning enjoying my cup of tea. As I felt the warmth, holding it, slowly sipping the sweet tea, I began to think about the honey in it. I began to think about the busy bees gathering the delicious golden nectar in a colorful field of flowers. Mind you, the hardworking bees’ intention for their honey was not for my tea but I am grateful for them, for their existence. I am also grateful for the beekeepers who dedicated their time and skills to caring for the bees and harvesting the honey. I am grateful for the workers who filled my jar of honey and for putting the label on each jar. Even for the designer who designed the label, I am grateful. Without the label, I would not know where it came from or know about the nutritional facts. I am also grateful for the delivery truck driver for bringing it to the supermarket, and even for the supermarket worker who stocks the jars on the shelves. As I step back from this thought, I become aware of all those who contributed to this jar of honey sitting in my cupboard, and to the honey in my tea.

I think about this and how thankful I am for this moment. Its a wonder where everyday items come from and how many people contribute to them. No matter how small or large the contribution, it has an impact on my life. This awareness makes me realize we belong to each other. Whether you are the receiver or the contributor, we are all connected.

 

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Surrender

by Megha Kamra

Once lost in an illusion,
Clouded in nothing but confusion,
Seeking a path of consolation,
But all that’s felt is frustration.
Then I drop in helplessness,
Close my eyes and feel your presence,
Silence explains your understanding,
My mind once flying, now is landing.
I feel your love, I feel your grace,
I feel your unconditional embrace.
You took my bottled distress and set it free
And for this I thank you Guruji.

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by Maya Yajnik
Yoga, breathing and meditation techniques relieve the stress in our bodies. Stress is present in everyone’s lives. The everyday pressures of work, relationships and studying bring about a natural stress response in our bodies. This is the “fight or flight” response which is the body’s way of making us ready to deal with crisis.

When the mind perceives a crisis, due to the mind-body connection, it automatically starts off a complex series of signals and bio-chemical changes called the stress response. It manifests in our bodies as a rush of hormones that give us heightened alertness and brings a burst of energy to the muscles. This gives the familiar sensations of excitement, fear, of the heart pumping, skin tingling, dryness in the mouth and shallow breathing. The brain stimulates a release of the ACTH hormone which in turn triggers the release of cortisol, called the “stress hormone”. There is an increase in heart rate and blood pressure.

The stress response is good in the short-term to get us moving at a time of crisis. However, the long-term impact on our health is not good. Because modern life is fast-paced and filled with multiple demands the stress response is being triggered in our bodies very frequently leading to chronic health problems. We are in a perpetual crisis mode. We are rushing around barely meeting our work deadlines, driving our children to soccer practice, keeping up with the latest movies etc. Our minds are constantly busy. For example we are worrying about the economy, thinking about an insulting remark made by a friend last week, daydreaming about our next vacation and planning when we will do our laundry. All these cause stress. There is a lot of fluctuation in our minds and often we impulsively overreact to situations.

With time, the biochemical changes due to stress turn toxic in our bodies. They cause fatigue, irritability, headaches, muscle tension, blood sugar imbalances, lowered immunity and increased abdominal fat. We need a balancing and relaxing influence which will release the accumulated stress and prevent the stress from accumulating. Our body has the natural ability to heal and recharge if we give it the chance. For example, a good night’s sleep leaves us feeling fresh and new again. Yoga, breathing and meditation are effective in bringing about this relaxation and rejuvenation. The techniques recharge us on a daily basis so that we feel fresh, enthusiastic and joyful again. Our systems are brought back into balance.

Independent research shows that yoga exercises along with breathing and meditation reduce the levels of stress hormones like cortisol and corticotropin. For example, the article “Yoga for anxiety and depression” in the Harvard Medical School newsletter says that yoga (and specifically Art of Living’s yogic breathing technique, Sudarshan Kriya) modulates the stress response lowering the levels of stress hormones. The techniques decrease the physiological arousal associated with stress slowing the heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and bringing breathing patterns back to normal. Studies show an increase in emotional well-being and enhanced brain function.

We are naturally capable of handling the pressures and challenges in our busy lives. The Art of Living courses give us the tools to balance our lives so that we can express our innate abilities. The yoga, breathing and meditation techniques reduce the toxic stress hormonal buildup in our systems. The practical suggestions in the courses give us awareness of how we react to situations. This awareness gives us the freedom to respond effectively thus prevents stress from accumulating in the first place. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says, “Meditation helps to change your perspective. It brings clarity in the mind. It improves your interaction with people around –what you say, how you react and act in different situations, you become more aware. In general, from a stress-free society to peace and health in individuals and from a violence-free society to a sorrow-free soul – all are side effects of meditation.”

Reference
http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletters/Harvard_Mental_Health_Letter/2009/April/Yoga-for-anxiety-and-depression

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