Category Archives: Self Mastery

Will “Victory Gardens” Make Comeback As Global Food Crisis Worsens?

Spring in the Northern Hemisphere is two weeks away, and interest in planting gardens could rise as the breadbasket of Europe was choked off by the Russian invasions of Ukraine, jeopardizing global food exports resulting in skyrocketing prices.

Even before the turmoil in Ukraine, American households were under pressure due to soaring food and gas prices. The invasion just made things a lot worse, as commodity prices jumped the most last week since the stagflationary period of the mid-1970s.

New UN global food prices, released on Friday, showed global food prices in February surpassed a previous record set in 2011. About a quarter of the international wheat trade, about a fifth of corn, and 12% of all calories traded globally come from Ukraine and Russia. Food exports in the region have been halted due to conflict and sanctions.

This leaves us with a shrinking global food supply that may further increase prices. Since spring is just weeks away, Americans will be in for a shock at the supermarket as the latest round of food inflation makes it to the store shelves. To mitigate the impact of grocery bills tearing apart household finances — interest in farming and planting gardens could take off and help expand the food supply.

The US government highly encouraged the planting of ‘War Gardens,’ commonly known as ‘Victory Gardens,’ in the dark days of World War II. People planted gardens in backyards, empty lots, and even city rooftops — people pooled together their resources and harvested all sorts of diversified vegetables and fruit in the name of ‘patriotism.’

The most abundant crops of Victory Gardens were beans, beets, cabbage, carrots, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, peas, tomatoes, turnips, squash, and Swiss chard because they were easily canned and stored.

Victory Gardens are not a thing of the past and could soon be revitalized as food supply chains are disrupted as conflict breaks out in Eastern Europe.

E-Course: Bio-Intensive Gardening

While empty shelves and supply shortages are still a lingering side effect of the virus pandemic, the call by the American people for NATO to erect a “no-fly zone” to protect Ukraine from Russia soars, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll on Friday. Russian President Vladimir Putin said a no-fly zone would be considered ‘an act of war.’ For more on what a no-fly zone means, read: “Reality Check: A “No-Fly-Zone” Over Ukraine Means WW3.” 

Better start planting those Victory Gardens as spring is just two weeks away. Also, you might want to load up on bread at the supermarket as prices may jump.

The Profound Health Benefits of Being Grateful

By Joseph Mercola 
December 4, 2021

Gratitude is a simple practice that can have profound effects on your health and well-being. Positive effects linked to gratitude include social, psychological, and physical benefits, which increase the more you make gratitude a regular part of your daily routine.

“The limits to gratitude’s health benefits are really in how much you pay attention to feeling and practicing gratitude,” said neuroscientist Glenn Fox, a gratitude expert at the University of Southern California. “It’s very similar to working out, in that the more you practice, the better you get. The more you practice, the easier it is to feel grateful when you need it.”

How Gratitude Changes Your Brain

Gratitude has distinct neurobiological effects, including in brain regions associated with interpersonal bonding and stress relief. When Fox and colleagues told stories of survivors of the Holocaust to elicit gratitude in 23 female subjects, they found that “ratings of gratitude correlated with brain activity in the anterior cingulate cortex and medial prefrontal cortex,” which are associated with moral cognition, value judgment, and theory of mind. Theory of mind is a psychological term that refers to our capacity to understand other people by attributing mental states to them.

Fox grew deeply interested in gratitude after his mother’s death from ovarian cancer. During her illness, he would send her studies on the benefits of gratitude in cancer patients, and she kept a gratitude journal in her final years.

In one example, 92 adults with advanced cancer engaged in mindful gratitude journaling or routine journaling. After seven days, those who kept a gratitude journal had significant improvements in measures of anxiety, depression, and spiritual well-being, so much so that the researchers concluded that “mindful gratitude journaling could positively affect the state of suffering, psychological distress, and quality of life of patients with advanced cancer.”

“Grateful people tend to recover faster from trauma and injury,” Fox told The Pulse. “They tend to have better and closer personal relationships and may even just have improved health overall.”

As it turns out, putting your gratitude in words can be an effective way to improve your mental health. Among 293 adults who sought psychotherapy services, those who engaged in gratitude writing reported significantly better mental health after four and 12 weeks than those who didn’t write or who wrote about their thoughts and feelings.

Gratitude Boosts Health, Well-Being

Gratitude can be difficult to define, as it has elements of an emotion, a virtue, and a behavior all rolled into one. Gratitude involves a two-step process, as explained in “The Science of Gratitude,” a white paper by the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California–Berkeley. Those two steps include “1) ‘recognizing that one has obtained a positive outcome’ and 2) ‘recognizing that there is an external source for this positive outcome.’”

In this regard, the benefits of gratitude may be gleaned from the actions of other people or experienced in an internalized manner, such as when feeling gratitude about good fate or nature. In this way, gratitude is both a state and a trait.

As a state, gratitude is based on a person’s ability to be empathic and experience grateful emotions that promote prosocial behavior. As a trait, it describes the practice of being grateful, noticing the little things in life, and appreciating the positive in the world and in other people. Gratitude can be felt from both being helped by others and habitually focusing on the good in your life.

A study published in Clinical Psychology Review found that gratitude has a positive effect on psychopathology, especially depression, adaptive personality characteristics, positive social relationships, and physical health, including stress and sleep. What’s more, they noted that “the benefits of gratitude to well-being may be causal.

Fox also explained that “benefits associated with gratitude include better sleep, more exercise, reduced symptoms of physical pain, lower levels of inflammation, lower blood pressure, and a host of other things we associate with better health,” including improved resilience.

It’s likely that gratitude leads to benefits via multiple mechanisms, not only by improving life satisfaction but also by contributing to an increase in healthy activities and a willingness to seek help for health problems. Those who are grateful have even been found to have a better sense of the meaning of life by being able to perceive good family function and peer relationships.

Gratitude Could Help You Sleep Better, Be Less Materialistic

Gratitude is known to facilitate improvements in healthy eating, and it benefits depression by enhancing self-esteem and well-beingA 2021 study comparing gratitude and optimism similarly found that both traits were associated with lower heart rate and blood pressure, better sleep quality, more exercise, less stress, more positive expectations and reflections, and greater feelings of appreciation toward others.

Feeling grateful can help you sleep better and longer, perhaps by improving your thoughts prior to sleep.

“The relationship between gratitude and each of the sleep variables was mediated by more positive pre-sleep cognitions and less negative pre-sleep cognitions,” a study in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research reads.

Those who scored higher on measures of gratitude had better sleep quality and sleep duration, as well as less sleep latency (the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep) and daytime dysfunction.

Further, people who are more grateful tend to be happier, less materialistic, and less likely to suffer from burnout. Among adolescents, the simple practice of keeping a gratitude journal significantly reduced materialism and the negative effect of materialism on generosity.

Those who wrote down what they were grateful for donated 60 percent more of their earnings to charity, for instance. There’s good reason to teach children the importance of gratitude, as doing so can improve school performance and orient individuals toward a positive life approach.

Positive Gratitude Interventions

If you’re not a particularly grateful person, you might have to work on your gratitude skills. Fortunately, gratitude is something that you can practice, according to Fox.

“I think that gratitude can be much more like a muscle, like a trained response or a skill that we can develop over time as we’ve learned to recognize abundance and gifts and things that we didn’t previously notice as being important,” he said. “And that itself is its own skill that can be practiced and manifested over time.”

Rather than a magic bullet, it’s the regular practice of being grateful that makes a difference, according to Fox.

“You know, it’s like water cutting rock through a canyon,” he said. “It’s not done all at once, and it’s just steady practice is where you start to get things.”

Two gratitude practices that you can try in your daily life include keeping a gratitude journal and expressing gratitude.

With a gratitude journal, you write down lists of what you’re grateful for on a regular basis. Expressing gratitude is exactly what it sounds like, expressing grateful feelings to others, such as by saying thank you or writing gratitude letters, which you then read to the recipients.

Showing gratitude to your partner is also a good way to boost your relationship. In a study of romantic partners, gratitude from interactions was linked to increased connection and satisfaction in the relationship, with researchers suggesting that “gratitude had uniquely predictive power in relationship promotion, perhaps acting as a booster shot for the relationship.”

Robert Emmons, a professor of psychology at the University of California–Davis and an expert on gratitude, has several tips for living a more grateful life. In an article he wrote for Greater Good Magazine, he advises that you remember hard times in your life, which remind you how much you have to be grateful for now; appreciate what it means to be human by tuning into and appreciating your sense of touch, sight, smell, taste, and hearing; use visual reminders, including people, to trigger gratitude, as this helps to combat forgetfulness and a lack of mindful awareness, two primary obstacles to gratefulness; and make an oath of gratitude, as simply vowing to be grateful can increase the likelihood that you’ll stick to the behavior. Post your pledge to “count your blessings” somewhere where you’ll see it often.

If you want to get started today, keep a notebook by your bedside and make a point to jot down one or two things that you’re grateful for each night before bed and express gratitude to others often, such as writing quick thank you notes to friends.

Live Not By Lies — Alexander Solzhenitsyn

From Russia, with Love
February 2nd, 2010

Solzhenitsyn penned this essay in 1974 and it circulated among Moscow’s intellectuals at the time. It is dated Feb. 12, the same day that secret police broke into his apartment and arrested him. The next day he was exiled to West Germany. The essay is a call to moral courage and serves as light to all who value truth.

At one time we dared not even to whisper. Now, we write and read samizdat, and sometimes when we gather in the smoking room at the Science Institute we complain frankly to one another: What kind of tricks are they playing on us, and where are they dragging us? Gratuitous boasting of cosmic achievements while there is poverty and destruction at home. Propping up remote, uncivilized regimes. Fanning up civil war. And we recklessly fostered Mao Tse-tung at our expense—and it will be we who are sent to war against him, and will have to go. Is there any way out? And they put on trial anybody they want and they put sane people in asylums—always they, and we are powerless.

Things have almost reached rock bottom. A universal spiritual death has already touched us all, and physical death will soon flare up and consume us both and our children—but as before we still smile in a cowardly way and mumble with our tounges tied. But what can we do to stop it? We haven’t the strength?

We have been so hopelessly dehumanized that for today’s modest ration of food we are willing to abandon all our principles, our souls, and all the efforts of our predecessors and all opportunities for our descendants—but just don’t disturb our fragile existence. We lack staunchness, pride and enthusiasm. We don’t even fear universal nuclear death, and we don’t fear a third world war. We have already taken refuge in the crevices. We just fear acts of civil courage.

We fear only to lag behind the herd and to take a step alone-and suddenly find ourselves without white bread, without heating gas and without a Moscow registration.

We have been indoctrinated in political courses, and in just the same way was fostered the idea to live comfortably, and all will be well for the rest of our lives. You can’t escape your environment and social conditions. Everyday life defines consciousness. What does it have to do with us? We can’t do anything about it?

But we can—everything. But we lie to ourselves for assurance. And it is not they who are to blame for everything—we ourselves, only we. One can object: But actually toy can think anything you like. Gags have been stuffed into our mouths. Nobody wants to listen to us and nobody asks us. How can we force them to listen? It is impossible to change their minds.

It would be natural to vote them out of office—but there are not elections in our country. In the West people know about strikes and protest demonstrations—but we are too oppressed, and it is a horrible prospect for us: How can one suddenly renounce a job and take to the streets? Yet the other fatal paths probed during the past century by our bitter Russian history are, nevertheless, not for us, and truly we don’t need them.

Now that the axes have done their work, when everything which was sown has sprouted anew, we can see that the young and presumptuous people who thought they would make out country just and happy through terror, bloody rebellion and civil war were themselves misled. No thanks, fathers of education! Now we know that infamous methods breed infamous results. Let our hands be clean!

The circle—is it closed? And is there really no way out? And is there only one thing left for us to do, to wait without taking action? Maybe something will happen by itself? It will never happen as long as we daily acknowledge, extol, and strengthen—and do not sever ourselves from the most perceptible of its aspects: Lies.

When violence intrudes into peaceful life, its face glows with self-confidence, as if it were carrying a banner and shouting: “I am violence. Run away, make way for me—I will crush you.” But violence quickly grows old. And it has lost confidence in itself, and in order to maintain a respectable face it summons falsehood as its ally—since violence lays its ponderous paw not every day and not on every shoulder. It demands from us only obedience to lies and daily participation in lies—all loyalty lies in that.

And the simplest and most accessible key to our self-neglected liberation lies right here: Personal non-participation in lies. Though lies conceal everything, though lies embrace everything, but not with any help from me.

This opens a breach in the imaginary encirclement caused by our inaction. It is the easiest thing to do for us, but the most devastating for the lies. Because when people renounce lies it simply cuts short their existence. Like an infection, they can exist only in a living organism.

We do not exhort ourselves. We have not sufficiently matured to march into the squares and shout the truth our loud or to express aloud what we think. It’s not necessary.

It’s dangerous. But let us refuse to say that which we do not think.

This is our path, the easiest and most accessible one, which takes into account out inherent cowardice, already well rooted. And it is much easier—it’s dangerous even to say this—than the sort of civil disobedience which Gandhi advocated.

Our path is to talk away fro the gangrenous boundary. If we did not paste together the dead bones and scales of ideology, if we did not sew together the rotting rags, we would be astonished how quickly the lies would be rendered helpless and subside.

That which should be naked would then really appear naked before the whole world.

So in our timidity, let each of us make a choice: Whether consciously, to remain a servant of falsehood—of course, it is not out of inclination, but to feed one’s family, that one raises his children in the spirit of lies—or to shrug off the lies and become an honest man worthy of respect both by one’s children and contemporaries.

And from that day onward he:

  • Will not henceforth write, sign, or print in any way a single phrase which in his opinion distorts the truth.
  • Will utter such a phrase neither in private conversation not in the presence of many people, neither on his own behalf not at the prompting of someone else, either in the role of agitator, teacher, educator, not in a theatrical role.
  • Will not depict, foster or broadcast a single idea which he can only see is false or a distortion of the truth whether it be in painting, sculpture, photography, technical science, or music.
  • Will not cite out of context, either orally or written, a single quotation so as to please someone, to feather his own nest, to achieve success in his work, if he does not share completely the idea which is quoted, or if it does not accurately reflect the matter at issue.
  • Will not allow himself to be compelled to attend demonstrations or meetings if they are contrary to his desire or will, will neither take into hand not raise into the air a poster or slogan which he does not completely accept.
  • Will not raise his hand to vote for a proposal with which he does not sincerely sympathize, will vote neither openly nor secretly for a person whom he considers unworthy or of doubtful abilities.
  • Will not allow himself to be dragged to a meeting where there can be expected a forced or distorted discussion of a question. Will immediately talk out of a meeting, session, lecture, performance or film showing if he hears a speaker tell lies, or purvey ideological nonsense or shameless propaganda.
  • Will not subscribe to or buy a newspaper or magazine in which information is distorted and primary facts are concealed. Of course we have not listed all of the possible and necessary deviations from falsehood. But a person who purifies himself will easily distinguish other instances with his purified outlook.

No, it will not be the same for everybody at first. Some, at first, will lose their jobs. For young people who want to live with truth, this will, in the beginning, complicate their young lives very much, because the required recitations are stuffed with lies, and it is necessary to make a choice.

But there are no loopholes for anybody who wants to be honest. On any given day any one of us will be confronted with at least one of the above-mentioned choices even in the most secure of the technical sciences. Either truth or falsehood: Toward spiritual independence or toward spiritual servitude.

And he who is not sufficiently courageous even to defend his soul—don’t let him be proud of his “progressive” views, don’t let him boast that he is an academician or a people’s artist, a merited figure, or a general—let him say to himself: I am in the herd, and a coward. It’s all the same to me as long as I’m fed and warm.

Even this path, which is the most modest of all paths of resistance, will not be easy for us. But it is much easier than self-immolation or a hunger strike: The flames will not envelope your body, your eyeballs, will not burst from the heat, and brown bread and clean water will always be available to your family.

A great people of Europe, the Czechoslovaks, whom we betrayed and deceived: Haven’t they shown us how a vulnerable breast can stand up even against tanks if there is a worthy heart within it?

You say it will not be easy? But it will be easiest of all possible resources. It will not be an easy choice for a body, but it is the only one for a soul. Not, it is not an easy path. But there are already people, even dozens of them, who over the years have maintained all these points and live by the truth.

So you will not be the first to take this path, but will join those who have already taken it. This path will be easier and shorter for all of us if we take it by mutual efforts and in close rank. If there are thousands of us, they will not be able to do anything with us. If there are tens of thousands of us, then we would not even recognize our country.

If we are too frightened, then we should stop complaining that someone is suffocating us. We ourselves are doing it. Let us then bow down even more, let us wail, and out brothers the biologists will help to bring nearer the day when they are able to read our thoughts are worthless and hopeless.

And if we get cold feet, even taking this step, then we are worthless and hopeless, and the scorn of Pushkin should be directed to us:

Why should cattle have the gifts of freedom?
Their heritage from generation to generation is the belled yoke and the lash.

2 Surprisingly Powerful Ways To Calm Your Mind

Nick Polizzi,
July 22nd, 2020

We are living through tumultuous times. Between the global pandemic and the worldwide outcry for social change, it is easy to become overwhelmed. I know I do.

Alarming footage is everywhere, there’s a hodgepodge of different ideas, and it seems like everyone is on edge.

That’s why it is incredibly important to cultivate a few practices that will calm and center you – within minutes.

If you’re in a constant state of fight-or-flight, your body’s vital processes slowly shut down, and your immune and digestive systems are the first to suffer. BUT – if you can catch yourself in those challenging moments before they turn into anxiety, your body can bounce back quickly!

Here are two of the biggest allies I have in my arsenal to nourish and calm my mind.

1) The magic of magnesium 

There are a lot of supplements out there and trying to find what’s right for you can sometimes be dizzying. But studies have shown that up to 75% of adults in the US are not meeting the 320 mg (women) or 420 mg (men) of magnesium needed daily.

Why is this a problem?

Magnesium is a vital nutrient that your body needs to make and use energy in your cells. It also stops your body from absorbing toxins that you come into contact with in your everyday life!

But the big reason you absolutely need magnesium is because it pulls the plug on your brain’s reflexive responses to stress, so you produce fewer stress hormones!

Otherwise, when you’re constantly stressed, your hippocampus creates an excess of cortisol, which eventually can lead to big problems like the inability to retain memories.

Here’s an awesome recipe for plant-based magnesium-rich granola bars!

Magnesium Power Bars

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ cups oatmeal
  • ¼ cup almonds – 1 oz, 80 mg of magnesium
  • ¼ cup pumpkin seeds – 1 oz, 168 mg of magnesium
  • ¼ cup cashews – 1 oz, 74 mg of magnesium
  • ? cup honey/molasses/maple syrup
  • ? cup peanut butter + 2 tablespoons, 49 mg of magnesium
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract (optional, but yummy)
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt salt
  • ½ cup berries or chocolate chips (or both)

Instructions

  1. Pour oats and nuts onto a cookie sheet and bake at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for 5 minutes. Shake the pan and flip larger pieces over. Then bake for another 3 minutes.
  2. Combine liquid ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. Add in nuts and oats.
  4. Stir until completely combined.
  5. Transfer mixture to a large wax paper-lined cookie sheet and press flat.
  6. Freeze for at least 3 hours.
  7. Slice and enjoy

2) Deep Belly Breathing

First of all, what is “deep belly breathing”? Diaphragmatic breathing is when you breathe in with enough depth that your stomach (specifically the area of the diaphragm) expands followed by your lungs.

According to a study at Harvard, belly breathing helps oxygen travel all over the body. This calms down racing hearts and stimulates the vagus nerve which lowers the body’s need to produce stress hormones.

If you can get yourself into the habit of practicing deep belly breathing 1-4 times a day, you can ease tension in your body, decrease your anxiety levels, find deeper sleep, and boost your energy.

Here’s how to do it

  1. Find a safe place — somewhere quiet where you can lay flat on your back or sit with your back flat against a wall. When your back is straight, it’s easier to notice the depth of your breath.
  2. Take 3 normal breaths.
  3. Place your hands on your stomach, just above your belly button.
  4. Breathe in slowly through your nose and try to expand your stomach so much that your hands rise with it.
  5. Hold for just a second and notice how far your hands have risen on your belly.
  6. Now breathe out slowly through your mouth.
  7. Repeat 5 times. Each time, try to relax even deeper into the breath.

These are two incredibly simple, and surprisingly powerful, additions to your daily routine. Be sure to be kind to your mind every day, but especially during these stressful times.

About The Author

Nick Polizzi

Nick Polizzi has spent his career directing and editing feature length documentaries about natural alternatives to conventional medicine. Nick’s current role as director of “The Sacred Science” documentary and author of “The Sacred Science: An Ancient Healing Path For The Modern World” stems from a calling to honor, preserve, and protect the ancient knowledge and rituals of the indigenous peoples of the world.

Three Meditation Exercises to Practice at Home

Exploring Your Mind
August 24th, 2020

These meditation exercises derive from an ancient technique used for training your mind to reduce stress, anxiety, and, also, to connect deeper with yourself. In fact, just 30 minutes a day can considerably change these states of mind. Furthermore, not only does it lessen any discomfort you might have but it also helps you feel much better.

Although you may not know it, there are many advantages to meditating at home. However, you must find a place away from distractions to do so. It’ll help you feel much better and more protected. The best part is you can do it at any time of the day.

It can be a bit difficult to attain an optimal state of concentration and relaxation if you’ve never meditated before. However, just follow a few simple steps and practice it frequently, and you’ll see how soon you get it.

A woman meditating.

Firstly, create an appropriate atmosphere where to practice meditation exercises

Before preparing your meditation environment, you must decide whether you’ll do these exercises on your own accord or if you’ll follow the guidelines of an app or a video.

Apps are very useful. In fact, you can program the time you want to dedicate and the level from which you’d like to start. Also, they make this practice easier for beginners.

Once you’ve decided how to do it, you’ll have to take into account the following to make the most out of it:

  • Find a quiet place. It’s essential to find a corner that’s as silent as possible, where the possibility of interruption is either null or minimal. You won’t get good results in a spot where there are frequent interruptions.
  • Comfortable posture. The lotus position is the classic choice for meditation, but you can start with other postures. You can even meditate while lying down. The most important thing here is to be in a relaxed position in which your body isn’t a distraction.
  • Avoid distractions. As we indicated above, it’s essential to avoid all sources of distractions: turn off your phone, the television, close the door of the room, close the windows, etc. You must be relaxed enough to be able to focus on your bodily sensations.
  • Finally, find the right moment. Yes, meditation is good for reaching a state of relaxation. However, if you do it in a hurry or under pressure, you won’t be able to do it correctly and the practice will be pointless. As you can see, you must choose a time in which you feel well enough and you can put your mind into it.

Basic meditation exercises to practice at home

Although there are many techniques for meditation exercises, some of them are easier for beginners to meditate at home.

1. Breathing exercises

This is the most basic exercise for relaxation and meditation. All you have to do is concentrate on your breathing. Controlling this physiological mechanism is essential for you to be able to relax. Note that it requires practice and concentration in spite of how easy it seems to be.

Forgetting about external stimuli, begin to take deep and slow breaths. Pay attention to them and notice how your body relaxes. Try to ignore any thoughts you might have at the moment and give your body your full attention.

In addition to being very useful in itself, you’ll also use it during the other two. Thus, it’ll be your basis for meditation.

2. Objective observation

In the previous exercise, you were encouraged to avoid thoughts. Contrary to it, the goal of this exercise consists of relaxing your body and allowing your thoughts to flow.

Thus, it’ll be necessary to focus on “watching” your thoughts without trying to change them or intervene in any way. Simply pay attention to them and let them be.

Ultimately, this exercise is about being a witness to your thoughts without getting carried away by them. It’s about thinking about them without judgment and watching them go by without concentrating on any of them in particular.

3. Body scan

Another simple exercise to meditate at home is the body scan technique. For this exercise, you must be in a comfortable position while controlling your breathing. Also, you must focus on the various areas of your body and the sensations you’re experiencing at that particular moment.

To do this, you first have to try to clear your mind and leave it blank while you focus on your various muscle groups.

For example, start by connecting with your feet; feel them, without judging them, and notice the sensations you have in them. Then, move on to your legs and notice the weight, the heat, the shape, and so on until you go through your entire body.

A woman practicing meditation.

Progress after practicing meditation exercises

As with every form of exercise, you must be constant and patient. You probably won’t notice much difference and will be a little disappointed at the beginning. This is normal.

However, it’s hard to get short-term benefits with this practice. To do it, you must give yourself time and continue to try it even though it doesn’t go as you thought it would.

Some people think you have to do something for about 21 days in order for it to become a habit. However, you must go beyond and try to build a new lifestyle. In other words, integrate this new activity into your routine and try to find the right time and environment for it. Especially when it comes to working on your emotions. Progression is slow when it comes to meditation but the benefits are well worth it.

Studies Show That Writing In A Journal Can Benefit Your Emotional & Physical Well-Being

Alanna Ketler
May 27, 2020

If you have read any of my previous articles, you may already know that I am a huge advocate of keeping a journal, or diary or notebook – whichever term you like best to describe the act of writing out your thoughts on paper, or if you prefer, typing them out on a screen.

Personally, journaling is something that has helped me get through some really tough times in my life and is also a great tool for just allowing some new perspective and a space to vent without judgment or advice. But for all of those skeptics out there who don’t understand how something like this could actually help, well, there’s science to prove it.

Psychologists from the University of California were able to investigate the effect of journaling by inviting 20 volunteers to visit the lab for a brain scan before asking them to write for 20 minutes a day for four consecutive days. Half of the participants wrote about a fairly recent emotional experience, while the other half of the participants wrote about something neutral.

Those who chose to write about an emotional experience showed more activity in the part of the brain called the right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex. In turn, this relaxed neural activity that is linked to strong emotional feelings.

According to Lieberman, men seemed to benefit from writing about their feelings more so than women, and writing by hand seemed to have a bigger effect than typing on a keyboard. That’s an interesting note: could men benefit from journaling more because in general they tend to keep their feelings to themselves? A journal can certainly act as a safe space for emotionally deprived men to vent.

“Men tend to show greater benefits and that is a bit counterintuitive. But the reason might be that women more freely put their feelings into words, so this is less of a novel experience for them. For men it’s more of a novelty,” Lieberman said.

Aside from drastic improvements to your mood and emotional well-being, writing out your thoughts and feelings regularly can actually benefit your physical health as well. Journaling can increase your chance of fighting specific diseases like asthma, rheumatoid arthritisAIDS and cancer. Amazingly, it can even help physical wounds heal faster.

study conducted in 2013 found that 76% of adults who spent 20 minutes a day journaling for three days in a row before a scheduled medical biopsy were fully healed 11 days later. On the other hand, 58% of the control group had not yet recovered. The study concluded that just one hour of writing about a distressing event helped the participants to better understand the events and reduce stress levels.

Lead researcher on expressive writing at the University of Texas and author of Writing To Heal, James W. Pennebaker, has found that by translating our experiences into our own language by writing it out, we are able to make the experience more comprehendible.

Pennebaker says: “Emotional upheavals touch every part of our lives. You don’t just lose a job, you don’t just get divorced. These things affect all aspects of who we are — our financial situation, our relationships with others, our views of ourselves…writing helps us focus and organize the experience.”

The Most Efficient Way To Cope With A Big Life Change Is To Journal

Journaling will help you to get over a break-up or cope with other up and down relationships in your life. While it may seem to be overanalyzing, studies have shown that venting about a past relationship actually helps to speed up emotional recovery and can help build a stronger sense of self-identity following a break-up. I don’t know about you, but this is something that I wish I would have done after break-ups that leave you feeling lost and like you don’t know who you are anymore.

By venting I don’t mean to your friends. While this certainly can help, the act of writing, with a pen or pencil, will provide you with the most health benefits.

“Writing accesses the left hemisphere of the brain, which is analytical and rational,” Maud Purcell, a psychotherapist and journaling expert, told Fast Company. “While your left brain is occupied, your right brain is free to do what it does best, i.e. create, intuit, and feel. In this way, writing removes mental blocks and allows us to use more of our brainpower to better understand ourselves and the world around us.”

Journaling Can Provide Long-Term Benefits

Journaling helps you to cope with the experience at hand but it can also help to prepare you to face similar experiences in the future.

“Journal therapy is all about using personal material as a way of documenting an experience, and learning more about yourself in the process,” Kathleen Adams, a psychotherapist and author of Journal to the Self, told the Huffington Post. “It lets us say what’s on our minds and helps us get — and stay — healthy through listening to our inner desires and needs.”

The process of journaling allows you to get to know yourself through your feelings and experiences. It’s just plain and simply writing out your feelings. This is different than just thinking because it is more streamline; you aren’t going back and forth or writing the same thing down over and over again.

You can start right now, or the next time you’re feeling particularly stressed about something. It’s so simple you might as well give it a shot! What do you have to lose? It just might help you more than you might have imagined! Plus, wouldn’t it be fun to look back at the big events that happened in your life in 20 years or longer and see how you were able to deal with the situations? It could even provide you with some insight on how to handle situations you are faced with in the future.

We are constantly being faced with challenges. This is what life is all about, but our reactions to those challenges is what defines who we are. Are we strong and capable or are we weak and playing a victim? The choice is ours!

Much Love

Honesty Training: Three Kinds of Falsehood: Simulation, Lies, and Deceit

Exploring Your Mind Staff Writer,
March 2nd, 2020

Falsehood can come in many shapes and it isn’t specific to humans. This type of conduct can also be seen in animals.

Humans are natural-born liars. We could say that there isn’t a single person on Earth who’s been completely honest in every single moment in their lives. Humans can use different kinds of falsehood. Each has many levels, motives, and different consequences.

Morality condemns any form of falsehood. This could be a mistake because lying is part of human nature and the use of simulation, lies, or deception could be valid depending on the circumstances.

The concept of truth is questionable as well because it’s difficult to establish absolute truths about many things. Likewise, you can be so convinced about something and repeat a lie without knowing or understanding that it isn’t true. Meanwhile, it’s worth pointing out the relativity of morality.

“Truth will rise above falsehood as oil above water.”

-Miguel de Cervantes-

Putting on a mask is a simulation, one of three kinds of falsehood.

Different kinds of falsehood in nature

Humans aren’t the only ones who use different kinds of falsehood. Nature is full of examples of animals who use deception to fool predators or simulate behaviors to get something in exchange. They use falsehood as a way to survive.

When an animal stays still to go unnoticed in front of its predator, they use simulation. The same thing happens when they disguise themselves or go into hiding. The goal is to fool those that could harm them. Something similar happens when an animal wants to steal food and distracts its rival to get it.

Humans start lying from an early age and for similar reasons. It’s part of any animal’s nature to look after themselves. It’s a survival instinct. Thus, honesty is a learned behavior but it doesn’t mean the same thing in every society. In some societies, honesty becomes part of a pact for peaceful living; in others, lying is sinful.

Long nose representing lies, one of three kinds of falsehood.

Simulation

Simulation is the less notorious of the different kinds of falsehood. In its simplest form, it’s about pretending. This implies bending reality to a certain degree. As with the other forms of falsehood, there are different levels of simulation. It can go from putting on a little makeup for a night out to the concealment of different aspects of yourself or your life, even taking on a new identity.

Why do people use simulation? There are many answers to that. Sometimes, people use simulation to appeal to others. Other times, they use it as a survival tool. For example, they try not to show fear against a rival. People can also simulate ailments for their benefit.

Lies and deceit

Although these kinds of falsehoods may seem similar, they have some important differences. Lying is related to verbal statements. You lie when you say something is true and know it isn’t. Deception is a wider concept. You can fool someone using words, but also with how you act or by creating situations that conceal reality. A deception involves a whole plan, whether it’s basic or very elaborate. In this case, there’s also a process of awareness-raising.

In human beings, simulation, lying, and deceit can be very sophisticated. What makes these behaviors morally wrong? Two things: motivation and purpose.

False friends, using deception.

A few years ago, in Colombia, there was a raid against the guerrilla where the people used deception, lies, and simulation. This raid helped free a group of hostages. Can this procedure be seen as “morally wrong”? In your daily life, you’ve probably asked yourself the same question.

Simulation, lying, and deception aren’t always morally wrong. Their motivation and purpose are what define their morality. Either way, you’ll gain more from examining these conducts, than from flat out rejecting them due to morality concerns.