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The Ten Commitments – For When the World Overwhelms You

There were four of us, in the bar at Que Pasa, talking about how best to realise diZsa’s idea. The idea was to extend a helping hand to members of our meditation group, at a place where they could just drop in, have a chat about their problems and receive some help from experienced therapists.

We had a possible venue, but what I didn’t know was the sort of problems that people were seeking help for.

I asked, and the response surprised me.

It seemed the most common problem that caused a request for help was a feeling of being overwhelmed. In other words, life and its problems had become just too much to cope with.

I know life can get tough, and some of the problems I’ve heard that other people have to deal with make me realise that not only have I been incredibly fortunate, but I have led a relatively sheltered life free from threats of violence or homelessness. Still I’ve been through my own mill and suffered through Hells that seemed to be designed just for me.

In my exploration of those Hells and with my 15 years working as a therapist I’ve learned a few coping mechanisms, so I thought about it and decided I could create something tailored to just get you through one day when your world overwhelms you.

So I did.

I called it The Ten Commitments – How to survive when the world overwhelms you.

It’s a very short Kindle book. Deliberately brief so that the solution to the problems doesn’t itself add to the overwhelm.

The premise is simple. Commit to doing 10 simple things and you will discover that you can survive your day.

The 10 simple things have been carefully designed to bring about subtle changes in how the world is viewed and consequently that overwhelming world is changed forever.

The book isn’t designed to solve your problems. It’s designed to get you through today. Having done that, you know that you can do that any time you choose and so no future day can threaten your safety any more.

It is simply powerful.

It will change your world if you do what it suggests.

But it is only for those who are overwhelmed, have reached the end of their tether, and feel they can no longer cope.

It is for those on the point of giving up on themselves.

Keep it in mind and recommend it to anyone you know who is struggling with life right now.

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Stressed Out? Then Just Eat Yourself Calm

I’m a great fan of using the mind, but when you are stressed out what you want is quick and easy stress-reduction, or maybe just something that gives you a boost. Brain chemistry is involved here, because stressed brains have different levels of neurotransmitters than peaceful brains. My position is that thoughts, beliefs and ideas are the cause of those changes in brain chemistry. But if changing your thinking is too much effort right now – and when you are stressed most things are too much effort. There are things you can eat that can help the brain chemistry along the right path and reduce the impact of stress on the body. This will help you stay younger and live longer.

Vitamin C helps with the reduction of stress, blood pressure and cortisol levels. So eat oranges. They taste much nicer that Vitamin C tablets, and are nicely messy so eating an orange is going to distract you from your worries for the time it takes to eat and wash up afterwards. But if stress is a more or less permanent state of affairs you might want to consider taking a high dose vitamin C supplement once or twice a day. It won’t taste as nice as the orange, but might keep your Vitamin C levels up so the stress symptoms stay under control.

Magnesium is an essential mineral. It’s good for your heart, your blood pressure, and is a muscle relaxant. Apricots are an easy source. Eat them fresh, or buy a packet of the dried sort to keep in your desk. Spinach is another good source of magnesium. You can also find a regular source of magnesium if you switch to eating bread made from whole grain wheat flour. Insufficient magnesium in the diet may be responsible for feelings of fatigue. Fatigue is a cause of stress.

Omega 3 in your diet lowers adrenaline and cortisol, so fish like mackerel, sardines and salmon are good – though probably not ideal for a snack, so make sure you pop some in your basket next time you visit the supermarket and look forward to a delicious meal at the end of a stressful day. If you are a vegetarian a good source of Omega 3 is flax seeds or walnuts. But if you don’t fancy that, as usual you can buy it in a tablet you can pick up alongside the vitamins and minerals. Though research suggests much better absorption into the blood when your Omega 3 comes in food rather than as a supplement.

Potassium is another essential for keeping blood pressure healthy. Bananas are frequently suggested as a plentiful source of potassium with around 450 mg. This is more than the recommended daily allowance, but just in case you don’t like bananas there’s plenty more potassium in beans, potatoes, avocados, and halibut. You can also get in canteloupes, meat, tomatoes, and citrus juice, so oranges give you double your money’s worth.

Vitamins are essential to our health and well-being. They are also good at looking after our bodies when they are subjected to stress. So watch out for vegetables with dark green leaves – full of vitamins and minerals – when you are out shopping. And yes, I know that means you have to cook them, but that helps too because you won’t be eating all of that unhealthy take-away, or pre-packed ready meal junk.

Buy yourself a variety of shelled nuts, and a stack of different kinds of dried fruits. They keep for ages. Then make up a mixture, pop it in a sandwich bag and stick it in your pocket or bag. When you are feeling stressed just tip a little of the mixture into the palm of your hand and munch away on a delicious, healthy snack filled with vitamins, minerals, and sugars to give you an energy boost, without spiking your blood sugar.

Eating your way to peace and tranquillity won’t solve all the challenges in your life, but it might give you a little breathing space and in that space, who knows, you might start to see solutions rather than problems.

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Fix Stress Quickly And Easily

Worry seems to be normal. At least worry seems to be normal if you class normal as what most people do. Natural is not the same as normal and worry is not natural. It’s not natural because worry is something we learn to do.

As tiny humans we are ‘engineered’ to learn rapidly by observing and emulating those around us. This is a survival trait. The sooner we learn what’s safe in our world; the sooner we learn what to steer clear of in our world; the greater our chances of survival.

What we observe most adults do is worry.

Now watch the news.

There must be a channel with news on. Go and watch it for 30 minutes.

Now tell me there is nothing in the world to be concerned about.

Are there crazy gunmen randomly killing people? Do tsunamis, earthquakes, and volcanoes wipe out the lives of thousands as if they were of no more value than the ant you probably accidentally squished when you were out yesterday? Are the finances of your country in a total shambles with meltdown, and the devaluing of all your hard earned savings and investments, just around the corner? Are jobs scarce, difficult to get and harder to hang on to? Do you now know how many million unemployed there are, and just how serious this is – for you? Do you know now just how bad the weather is (again?) this year and the adverse affect it’s going to have on crop yields and food prices? Do you know where all the floods and droughts are? Are you fully clued up on all the infidelities and dishonesties of your favourite politicians?

And talking of politicians – do you know how the war is going? There’s always a war, politicians arrange wars to provide an external distraction from the internal problems they are not dealing with and don’t really want you to pay too much attention to.

Go pick up your daily paper.

Isn’t it full of the same stuff?

There is plenty to worry about. But, most of it is brought to you from outside agencies. Consider for a moment that you are away on holiday, perhaps in some isolated place, maybe camping away from people; maybe somewhere quiet and peaceful with a nice beach where you can just relax, read a good book and generally chill out. This is a holiday where you’ve left your phone at home. Now who would do such a crazy thing as that– I mean what if the world couldn’t go on without me?  What if something bad happened and no one could let me know? You’ve also decided that the only reading you are going to do is enjoyable books, and you’ve come to a place with no tv, and no internet.

It sounds like Hell I know. No tv, no papers, no phone, no facebook, just sunshine, sea and sand, or maybe trees, lakes, open spaces, beautiful mountains, and amazing wildlife.

Could you survive this hell for a couple of weeks?

The truth is the world does what the world does and it does it whether you are paying attention or not. Worrying about volcanoes, earthquakes, and other tragic events, doesn’t stop them doing what they do. If there is a real danger then take whatever action you can to protect yourself and then forget about it. I‘m not suggesting for a minute that you shouldn’t take precautions, just that you should do it or not do it and then get on with your life. If you choose not to take sensible precautions then recognise that that’s a choice you’ve made, don’t keep worrying about what might happen because you’ve not done the sensible thing.

In my part of the world it’s usual to lock up your doors and windows when you go out even though there isn’t a lot of crime. It also makes sense to lock your car when you leave it. What doesn’t make sense is spending the time away from home, or car, worrying about what would happen if someone broke in.

I have a simple solution to the worry problem. I don’t watch news on tv. And yes that means I sometimes don’t hear about disasters and serious crimes until two or three days, or maybe a week or two after they’ve happened. Oddly, I’ve found that makes absolutely no difference to me – other than my mind is freer of worry than a lot of people I know. I haven’t read a newspaper regularly since 1975. I find there is so much more interesting and inspirational stuff to read that newspapers are just a waste of my mindtime.

Of course as soon as I got interested in hypnosis, for use as a therapeutic tool, I realised that newspapers are just a way to hypnotise and control the masses.

No I’m not a conspiracy nut, but when you step back from this stuff you can see what’s going on. While it’s important to you and you are in the middle of it, you will defend it against criticism.

I value my own opinion. Newspapers tell you your opinion.

So, if you haven’t guessed it already, the first step on the way to fix stress quickly and easily is to try out an experiment.

For just one 24 hour period, watch something more fun than the news, and read something more interesting than a newspaper.

And see what happens.

It’s just a day. Anyone, no matter how addicted, can survive a day without the negative input of tv news and newspapers. Yes you may miss the world’s biggest disaster and have no idea what’s going on when everyone else is talking about it, but then if it isn’t in your immediate neck of the woods isn’t it just voyeuristic anyway?

If there’s a serious problem in the world, then if you can take action to help – take action; if you can’t then forget about it. Your thinking or worrying or stressing about it all day will not change one tiny aspect of what’s going on.

The only place true freedom exists is within your own mind.

You cannot experience that freedom while your emotional state is being manipulated by others.

Take that first step towards Freedom and give yourself a taste – just for a day.

If this resonates with you then please leave a comment below.

Michael

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What To Do When The Past Gets In The Way Of Peace And Happiness

Something happens, it doesn’t really matter what it is – it could be an argument, betrayal, disappointment, rejection, something you did that you shouldn’t, something you didn’t do that you should… but it generated negative emotion within you and continues to play on your mind.

The problem lies, not in the happening, but in the continual mental replay, and the constant analysis. This is where you attempt to figure out what you should have done differently. In other words, you want the past to be different from the way it was and if you could only figure out how to make that happen, then you’d be okay. If you can’t figure out how to make that happen then your life is effectively over. Yes, I know I’m exaggerating a little, but that is frequently how it feels while the intensity of the ThoughtStorm is still being played out in your mind.

So you are looking for a solution to make everything ok. What you really want (change the past) is impossible – so would you accept a solution that simply makes the past irrelevant?

You see what most people really want is peace and/or happiness. But they always want these things from a place where they have neither and so have a tendency to place conditions upon them. When you actually arrive at an experience of peace or happiness what you realise is that nothing matters. Nothing matters because you realise that peace and happiness arise from within. They are a state of mind, not a state of circumstances.

The first step you need to take is one of looking at what is actually going on. What is going on is that your mind is filled with an unpleasant memory and that memory is surrounded by, and fuels, a barrage of thoughts… and analyses… and what ifs… and should’ves… and shouldn’ts… and maybes.

A memory is itself just thoughts about something that happened and when you access those thoughts you have associated pictures, feelings and sounds. The thoughts themselves are sounds. Just as if someone was taking to you. So the Hell you are experiencing is just pictures, feelings and sounds. All of which are going on in your present.

If you could find a way to stop these feelings, pictures, and sounds then you wouldn’t have a problem. It wouldn’t matter what had happened, you just wouldn’t have a problem.

A clock ticking is just a sound in your mind.

How much importance do you give to that sound?

A bird singing is just a sound in your mind.

Do you let a bird run your life?

Your mind is filled with sounds from your external world, yet very little of it is remembered or even noticed.

When you get caught in a ThoughtStorm remind yourself that it is just sounds and sensations.

Become aware of the activities that engage you fully: a hobby, or a book, or a videogame, or craftwork, a puzzle…

Then use your favourite activity to distract you. In time you will train yourself to shift your attention away from that memory.

The problem of course is when you are convinced that what happened shouldn’t have happened, or that life has been really unfair to you – but that’s another story.

 

Michael

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Meditation – How It Can Open the Door to a New Life.

It’s a Saturday morning here, it’s been raining all night, and the sky is grey. I was sitting enjoying my cup of green tea after breakfast and wondering what I would write about today. My mind was drawn to illusion. Then I checked my email and received a wonderful message from Alex who’d been using my Chakra Meditation CD and finding it powerfully beneficial. Alex’s email lifted my spirits. It’s always so nice to hear how my work is benefiting other people. So, following the flow as it were, I started thinking about meditation and how it connects to the idea of illusion.

I’ve recently joined a group where we get together once a week and listen to a guided meditation, and then talk about matters spiritual. I use spiritual in a very broad sense to encompass life-purpose and how to make life work for you so that life becomes a pleasurable, satisfying, and fulfilling adventure rather than the drudgery of a daily visit to a place of employment you can’t wait to get home from. Anyway we chat about this and that and something weird happens. When I’m driving home I’m sort of buzzing. My ‘energy’ (I don’t know what else to call it) seems to have been increased and I just feel really good – and it’s a very nice feeling.

I’m not sure it’s the actual meditation that does it because I don’t feel any different when it ends. I think it’s being in the presence of people who understand some of the same things about life that I do. We share our thoughts and find them accepted rather than disagreed with. We hug hello and we hug goodbye and it feels so natural and normal. But this group, and the reason I mention them, understands ‘illusion’.

Let me move over to a more scientific standpoint. This is much easier because the evidence is there and undeniable.

Matter doesn’t exist.

By that I mean that no one has ever found anything solid that everything is made of. Most of us know about atoms and how they are the tiny particles that join together to make up all of the stuff we see around us. We know intellectually that everything is made of atoms. But what are atoms made of? When I was at school they were just made of protons, neutrons and electrons. Now it seems that the protons and neutrons are made up of all sorts of squirrelly little bits and pieces like quarks and muons, and leptons and god knows what else. It seems that as the scientists keep looking they find another weird behaviour that doesn’t fit in with their sums, then they invent a particle that makes the maths work out, then they build a big machine to look for the particle, then they find it, and then it starts all over again with the next particle. Talk about creating a job for yourself.

But what they’ve also discovered is that all these particles are just energy. They are not anything solid. In fact those well-known ones – the electrons – don’t even seem to be in our Universe all of the time. They are here and they are somewhere else. The best the physicists can do is offer probabilities that something will be somewhere often enough to pretend it’s real.

The upshot of all this is that nothing really exists in solid physical form, it’s all an illusion.

Yes I know it hurts when you walk into a wall, but the energy is there and that’s what you feel when you hit the wall. Your energy meets the walls energy and ouch!

Now let’s go inside your head. Consider that at this moment you are reading these words. You experience these words on some sort of electronic screen outside of you. If you close your eyelids the screen disappears. But if you reach out to where you remember the screen to be you will feel something that matches what you were seeing when your eyes were open. If you tap it with your fingernail you will also hear a sound consistent with your vision and your touch.

But what’s actually going on.

Photons (pure energy) of light move from the screen, interact with your cornea (atoms), your eye lens (more atoms), wander through some jelly (yet more atoms) in your eye, hit the squidgy cells at the back of your eye (retina) cause some chemical stuff to happen and then some more chemical stuff happens all the way along your optic nerve until that nerve terminates in some neurons which then nudge some chemicals across the synapses in tiny squidgy brain cells filled with chromosomes and other stuff. But what’s really happening is that the energy of the photon is causing energetic changes in other atoms from the cornea right through to the neuron.

The ‘seeing’ doesn’t take place until the neurons get involved. But the neurons can’t see! They are just grey electrochemical tiny little bits of stuff. They don’t project an image of these words onto a screen in the back of your skull. There is no image in your head – you make it all up out of some chemistry that takes place in the dark of your skull.

It’s just the same with all of your other senses. You make all of that up too.

That doesn’t mean that what you see, hear and feel isn’t real. It just means that you can never be sure.

It’s all very Matrix-like.

But the truth is that if you were dreaming a very real dream, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between that and reality.

Your world exists only in your mind.

So what’s all this got to do with meditation?

Well, when you listen to a guided meditation then you are generally taken by the hand and encouraged to use your imagination to create images that cause you to feel deeply relaxed and maybe view your future self living in improved circumstances. They may be focused on healing so that you focus your imagination on greater health. This activity separates you from your physical world and allows your body some space to heal.

When you do this on a regular basis (and by regular I mean daily or twice daily) you will begin to notice that it causes change to take place. It can bring about physical changes. There is plenty of research around to show that regular meditation lowers stress and blood pressure as well as lengthening life. Life becomes more peaceful. Not only that but it has an impact on the world outside of you too.

Research has shown that the presence of Transcendental Meditation centres in towns causes a significant lowering of the crime rate.

Now if you consider that meditating with a group of other people on a regular basis can improve the way that people relate to each other then you have something occurring where there is no connection between cause and effect. This is the nature of dreams, not reality. This is the nature of illusion.

Groups of people working with single-minded intent have brought about miraculous healing.

Again this is the stuff of dreams, not of a solid physical cause causes effect reality.

If you read The Field by Lynne McTaggart you will find details of a scientific experiment conducted by a professor at an American University where focused thought caused a change to take place in the past!!!!

The evidence for illusion is all around. If you just open your mind, you will begin to see how apparently random, predictive thoughts, insignificant wishes that manifest within hours, & strange coincidences, are all clues so that you can begin to unpick the true nature of reality and see it for very real illusion that it appears to be.

Michael

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Worrying is a Choice – Find Out How to Choose Not To

Worry takes up a lot of time. When I started to stop worrying, I found myself wondering what to do with all the ‘space’ in my head. There was a tendency to want to find something to worry about. I’ve noticed this too with clients who come to visit for help with anxiety and stress. The worry is such a habit that it feels really uncomfortable when it isn’t there.

But that’s true of any habit.

Once a habit is removed it leaves a space. Nature, as they say, abhors a vacuum, so if you don’t fill that space with something else, the habit will return.

So the easiest way to reduce the amount of worrying you do is to do something else.

But first we need to correct the error in thinking that says you are supposed to worry, or you can’t help worrying, or it shows you care when you worry about someone.

None of that is true.

I know how, at times, it can feel as if you are powerless to do anything about it once you are in the grip of a big worry – especially stuff like money. I mean if you can’t pay your bills and you are going to be evicted and end up in the streets, then surely that’s worth worrying about? I would disagree. Worry doesn’t actually change anything; all it does is make you feel bad. When you feel bad, that reduces your adaptability and creativity so you are much less able to find solutions. With the money situation, what you want is a solution. Worrying doesn’t solve your problem. Of course if you feel powerless to do anything to change your circumstances then you might as well just worry. But it still won’t help.

But it’s that sense of powerlessness that is so often at the heart of the problem.

The first step out is to recognise that you are never powerless. There is always something you can do. That something can be quite simple. I have done ridiculously simple, easy things, like just sitting in another chair. You’d be amazed at how this simple action can give you a slightly different perspective. This is partly because you engage in physical action and that always helps, and partly because as you change your viewpoint you encourage your creativity to see things from another direction.

Other simple actions you can take are to read something inspirational or listen to something like a guided meditation.

But I don’t want to go to deeply into the psychology of all of this right now. What I want is to give you a very simple tool that you can use to help you to break out of the worry cycle when you get trapped in it.

Before you use this though, you have to be really sure that you want a rest from worrying. Remember you can always go back to worrying. You will realise after you do this a few times that worrying is a choice. Once you realise that worrying is a choice then you can save your worrying for the really important things in your life and for the people you really care about. It won’t change things for them but it will probably make you feel as if you are a loving, caring human being.

So the first idea that I want you to entertain is that time does not exist. The future is a fantasy that you create. The past is a memory and a memory is not a videotape. Memory changes and is malleable so what you remember is almost certainly not what happened – no matter how real the memory seems to you. So what does that leave you with?

It leaves you with right now.

Worrying, most of the time, is about what happened that you wanted to happen differently, or what you don’t want to happen at all.

Consider that memory is just thoughts.

So when you worry about what happened that you wanted to have happened differently – you are worrying about thoughts in your mind.

When you worry about what you don’t want to happen at all, you are again worrying about thoughts, because whatever it is that hasn’t happened doesn’t exist. All it is is a probable future and probabilities are not real.

So all of your worrying is about thoughts.

And the worrying itself is just thoughts.

So ask yourself this – are thoughts REAL?

No, they are not, they are just movements of energy flowing through your brain cells. This energy flow creates the illusion of images, sounds, and sensations, but it is as real as a dream. If your dreams are real then take your worries seriously. If not then treat your worries as if they were dreams.

I hope you’ve realised that all that’s left is right now and right now is a sort of permanent timeless space.

So do whatever you can do right now. Take whatever action to deal with a problem right now. Make a plan of action, right now. And if you are unable to do any of that then ask yourself whether you are safe right now.

Repeat this mantra to yourself until you feel more stable and ready to tackle the important and pleasurable activities that are available to you.

The mantra is:

‘Am I alright NOW?’

Answer that and repeat – regardless of whether the answer is yes or no.

Michael