A Psychiatrist’s Tips for Calming Your Pandemic Stress

By Jill Suttie | Greater Good Magazine

What happens when the whole world is facing a massive threat like we are now with coronavirus? According to psychiatrist James Gordon, founder of the Center for Mind-Body Medicine in Washington, D.C., the pandemic is setting off a community-wide mental health crisis. It’s creating anxiety, uncertainty, and isolation that are similar in some ways to what communities feel when enduring war, mass school shootings, opioid epidemics, or climate-related disasters.

Gordon has worked all around the world helping people deal with trauma and its aftermath, including refugees of several war-torn countries, U.S. military personnel, and those struggling with end-of-life challenges. His recently published book, The Transformation: Discovering Wholeness and Healing After Trauma, outlines practices he teaches to help people cope—not only during a pandemic but any time they face difficulties in life. His methods, grounded in scientific research and the wisdom of his years of experience, help communities build supportive networks to heal from disaster.

In a conversation with Greater Good, he spoke about his work and its relevance for our times—including tools we can use to cope today.

Jill Suttie: How has the viral pandemic affected the mental health of the people you are seeing at your center?

James Gordon, M.D.

James Gordon, M.D. 

James Gordon: Pretty much everyone is anxious about what’s happening now—anxious about their lives, anxious about their health, their family’s health, their economic well-being. They’re often feeling disconnected from other people and, sometimes, anxious about their connections with others. Everyone is worried about the future and what it holds. So, they have the symptoms you would expect from people who’ve been traumatized.

I’m not saying they qualify for a diagnosis of posttraumatic stress disorder, but they have the kinds of symptoms you see in people who are in a chronic state of fight or flight, which is what we go into when we’re under threat. We react to the coronavirus threat as if it were a predator. Our heart rate and blood pressure go up, and our digestion goes down. Our frontal cortex stops functioning well; so we’re not terribly self-aware, compassionate, or thoughtful. Meanwhile, the amygdala—the center of fear and anger in the brain—is firing like crazy. [People are] anxious, they’re agitated, they have trouble focusing and sleeping, and they are often irritable.

Also, a lot of people are depressed and ask themselves, what’s it all about? What am I supposed to do now? There’s a level of uncertainty that’s bigger than it’s ever been. I don’t think something like this has happened in the United States since the second world war, but then the trauma was mitigated by a lot of communal effort and people all coming together. Plus, the war was somewhere else, far away. This may be worse than even the 1918 pandemic because we know more about it, but we’re not sure what to do. And everybody’s affected.

JS: Have you noticed that people are reluctant to admit that they’re suffering emotionally during this time?

JG: Yes, a lot of people are saying, “Who am I to be hurting? I’m safe in my home; I still have a job; nobody in my family has died.” So that can make some people feel uneasy about talking about psychological issues. But people who’ve lost family members or health professionals who’ve seen a lot of patients die are more willing to admit their grief and deep pain about what they’ve experienced to other people.

For the most part, these are not psychiatric disorders that people are having. These are ordinary responses to an extraordinary situation. People are overwhelmed, and that’s to be expected in this situation. Everybody is going to be affected, absolutely everyone. Try to tell me that the people parading in front of the Michigan governor’s mansion with semi-automatic weapons are not affected by this crisis; I don’t think so. They’re being triggered and they’re very fearful. This is their response to that.

JS: On top of the pandemic, we are facing the realities of racial injustice in our country. How has that affected people’s mental health during this time?

JG: The image of that cop kneeling on George Floyd’s neck for nine minutes is now in everyone’s psyche, and it’s bringing up many emotions and thoughts for different people. Several black men have told me about nightmares they’ve had of choking and not being able to get their breath, and it’s bringing up feelings of powerlessness in people of every color. Many women have mentioned memories of sexual assault because that same feeling of being helpless and unable to do anything—of being trapped—is being evoked. In some cases, these are memories people thought they’d moved beyond, but now they’re being affected again. So, it’s stirring up images and memories of various kinds of oppression and brutalization in everybody.

It’s definitely increased the level of fear in many people, too—certainly in black people. Every black woman I know has told me that they are more scared for their children, especially their sons. This is something they’ve been afraid of anyway, but now they’re even more worried about their children being targets.

But it’s also opening up people to a greater sense of compassion, too. They feel more connected with people who’ve been oppressed. If there’s a positive side, that’s it. Also, part of the response to the dark side of re-experiencing feelings of oppression, subjugation, and not having a voice is that people are finding their voices again and coming together. They’re discovering that they have similar thoughts and feelings about their own oppression and the oppression of others, so it’s been a pivotal moment for many people.

JS: What can people do to cope with a massive-scale crisis like the pandemic—when so many are affected?

JG: I’ll tell you what we’re doing at the Center for Mind-Body Medicine. First, we’re encouraging the communities we work with to provide information to people that explain what they’re likely to go through. People want to be reassured that what they’re experiencing is understandable, and they want to have perspectives and tools that they can use to help heal while being connected with each other.

Many of the people we’ve trained around the country are doing online groups where people can come together for two hours a week and work on helping themselves cope. What we’re offering is really pretty simple. We’re giving people the tools to come back into biological, psychological balance. And we’re helping them mobilize their imagination to look for solutions that can help them stop ruminating while providing them with support. This is the public health response that we should be having all over the country.

By now, there are probably a thousand or more of these groups happening all over the United States. We’re not the only ones offering these kinds of tools, but we’ve been doing this now on a population-wide level for over 20 years, and we’ve worked with probably a couple of million people around the world. So, we know how to do this. What’s required is that organizations in communities—say, the public health department or the school system—decide this is a priority. It should be an admission of our universal psychological vulnerability to what’s going on.

JS: What tools are you promoting to people?

JG: The tools we give people provide a basic way of dealing with the fight-or-flight response. To calm that down, we start with slow, deep breathing—in through the nose, out through the mouth, with the belly soft and relaxed. You do that for about 10 minutes, and your heart rate slows, blood pressure goes down, and you’re calmer and less irritable. This helps you realize that you can make a difference in how you feel.

Sometimes under threat, we go into a freeze response, and we withdraw psychologically and put up a barrier against the pain we’re feeling. To deal with that response, you’ve got to move your body. With the possible exception of working with a very skilled, compassionate therapist, physical exercise is the single best intervention for depression—better than antidepressant drugs, without the negative side effects. The movement exercise I teach first, which is the easiest, is shaking and dancing. It’s what indigenous people all over the world do regularly. If you shake your body, the feelings that you’ve been suppressing start to come out, and you feel better.

Beyond that, we use expressive meditations which help to break up the repetitive rumination and bring feelings back into our lives. Once you get more comfortable with these techniques and become more balanced in your physiology, there are many other techniques we teach people, too.

JS: How do these techniques create a supportive community?

JG: If you’re feeling lonely, anxious, and needy, it’s super hard to connect with other people. If you’re feeling a little bit more relaxed and more confident in calming yourself down, the parts of your brain that make a connection with others easier function better. This may seem counterintuitive or paradoxical, but the first way of connecting with other people is connecting with yourself. Once you start doing that, you’re better able to talk to others.

We offer a lot of groups through our website, and doing the practices together helps create a community. But, for people who are already connected to each other, it’s important to maintain those connections, too. Wherever you are, have a meeting, get together with people online, say hi to them. Whatever impulse makes you feel like connecting to other people, act on it. If you’re inhibited about doing that, close your eyes for a minute or two and ask yourself, “Who should I connect with today?” If somebody comes to your mind, reach out. Get over the self-consciousness.

What I’ve found is that during this time, people are generally more open to connecting than they were before the pandemic. But, besides reaching out to individuals, a lot of people are also doing online classes—an online yoga or cooking or dance class—and enjoying those. These can be important ways of connecting, too.

We need community right now, and the primary way of working on psychological issues should be within groups. Research shows that group support is the single most important intervention for psychological trauma, and that’s pretty much what we’re going through right now. People want to understand that what they’re experiencing is a normal response to an abnormal situation and to have tools to help them cope. Reassuring themselves that they are not alone should be a primary way of working through whatever they need to work through.

About the Author

Jill Suttie

Jill Suttie, Psy.D., is Greater Good’s book review editor and a frequent contributor to the magazine.

6 Psychological Tricks To Command Respect Instantly

Video Source: Charisma on Command

Normally, earning respect takes years of demonstrating high character, but there are exceptions.

This video covers 6 psychological tricks that you can use to command respect almost instantly.

Study Finds Being Exposed To Buddhist Concepts Reduces Prejudice and Increases Pro-Sociality

Photo credit: Flickr user neonow (Creative Commons)

By Eric W. Dolan | PsyPost

Researchers from Belgium and Taiwan have found that being exposed to Buddhist concepts can lead to increased pro-social behavioral intentions and undermine prejudice towards others.

Buddhism contains a variety of teachings and practices – such as meditation – intended to help individuals develop a more open-minded and compassionate personality. Unlike the three dominant monotheistic religions, it does not draw a sharp line between believers and unbelievers.

In three separate experiments of 355 individuals, the researchers found that being exposed to words related to Buddhism could “automatically activate prosociality and tolerance, in particular among people with socio-cognitive open-mindedness.”

The study adds to a growing body of research about priming, a phenomenon in which merely being exposed to certain words or concepts changes the way people think or behave. It was published in the April issue of the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

When Westerners familiar with Buddhism read religious words like “Dharma” and “Nirvana” – which they were exposed to under the guise of completing a word puzzle – they reported lower negative attitudes toward outgroups compared to participants exposed to positive non-religious words like “freedom.”


Science Reveals that Wellbeing is a Skill You Can Learn, Practice and Strengthen

By Kate Love | Uplift Connect

Wellbeing is something that is hard to define and yet we all have an understanding of what it is. It derives from how you feel about yourself and your life, whether things are going well, and how you cope with stress. Wellbeing changes over time and is influenced by every aspect of our lives, from close friendships to feel that you belong and a sense of purpose.

Neuroscientist Richard J. Davidson, the founder of the Center for Healthy Minds, is one of the world’s leading experts on the impact of contemplative practices, such as mindfulness meditation, on the brain. He says that wellbeing is not a static ‘thing’–but a set of skills that we can practice and strengthen, just like learning to play a musical instrument or ride a bike.

“Wellbeing is fundamentally no different than learning to play the cello. If one practices the skills of wellbeing, one will get better at it”

The Four Keys to Wellbeing

Research reveals there are four areas of mental training that can significantly improve your wellbeing: Resilience, outlook, awareness, and generosity. “Each of these four is rooted in neural circuits, and each of these neural circuits exhibits plasticity,” explains Davidson. “So we know that if we exercise these circuits, they will strengthen.”

It’s easy to be content when things are going well but what about when we face hardship? I’ll never forget the moment when my mum told me that she had breast cancer. It is in times like these that we need the strong foundation of wellbeing to hold us up.

Practicing these four skills can provide the key to enduring change and increased wellbeing.

1. Resilience

Resilience, or how quickly we recover from adversity, influences the amount of negative emotion that we experience. My mum was a doctor who cared for other people, the one who held our family together, and it was a shock to recognize her vulnerability.

Some people recover from a failed exam or loss of a job slowly, while others are able to rebound more easily from adversity.

“We know that individuals who show a more rapid recovery in certain key neural circuits have higher levels of wellbeing. They are protected in many ways from the adverse consequences of life’s slings and arrows.”

One of the ways that Davidson has found to improve your resilience is by regular practice of mindfulness meditation. It takes time to alter these specific brain circuits and you need many hours of practice before you see real change. “It’s not something that is going to happen quickly,” he says. “But this insight can still motivate and inspire us to keep meditating.”

2. Outlook

Whether it’s savoring the last bite of chocolate cake or enjoying a family holiday, a positive outlook on life increases our wellbeing. “I use outlook to refer to the ability to see the positive in others,” says Davidson. “The ability to savor positive experiences, the ability to see another human being as a human being who has innate basic goodness.”

Even people who suffer from depression show activation in the brain circuit underlying outlook, but in them, it doesn’t last—it’s very transient.

“Here, unlike with resilience, research indicates that simple practices of loving-kindness and compassion meditation may alter this circuitry quite quickly, after a very, very modest dose of practice.”

I couldn’t take my mum’s cancer away but I could be there for her, spend time holding her hand, and go for long walks together on the beach. I savored every moment I had with her because I didn’t know how long it would last.

A recent study by Healthy Minds found that compassion training for 30 minutes a day for two weeks resulted not only in changes in the brain but also made it more likely for people to be kind and help others.


The Cyclical Science Behind Personal Experience

If you’re anything like me, it doesn’t take you once to learn something. Nope, you’re the type of person that likes to repeat things, as painful as they may be, just to be sure you didn’t miss something the first time.

Although a fast learner when it comes to concepts and acquiring new abilities, I tend to dive back into waters that weren’t best served to create space of one’s own waves but is one hell of a place to learn how to swim…

I’ve finally come to consider myself a living, breathing paradox as I shy away from the typical adrenaline junkie faves like sky-diving and such, yet have seemingly no fear when it comes to jumping out of planes traversing the inner skies of the human psyche. In fact, I am sort of addicted to it.

Ever since I can remember I always grasped the brilliance of “measure twice, cut once.” I could always appreciate the time and effort people put into things they loved and cared about; mostly because it showed. But not only in the effect of an outcome or product built, but all throughout the person’s being. Although I didn’t fully understand it at the time, and to this day still feel miles from fully grasping it entirely, when people are doing what they love, what they were born for and meant to do, if you look less with your eyes and more with your heart, you can literally see this fulfillment shine through one’s entire being.

These types of people, whether fully conscious of it or not, have perhaps learned one of life’s hardest lessons and to me, that is to accept yourself.

You see, if you think about how quickly or slowly we tend to learn and the overall quality of our lives, we can’t help but notice the connection. And perhaps this is entwined with our ability to accept what it and use it as a catalyst to create what can be.

In my experience, personal or otherwise, it seems that those empowered with this connection, are either consciously or subconsciously breaking the cycle, the patterns we all end up forming, healthy or otherwise. They are instead living from what is commonly known as the “heart-space” and a little less to serve the “mind-space”.

On some level, it’s as if they’ve tapped into the awareness that while technically “Mind” is the only thing that moves, it is US, the conscious creativity we each envelop when incarnating here on Earth whom initiate the push. It’s like being chained up your entire life only to finally realize the chains were never locked or attached to anything solid or stable.

Image result for habitual pattern quoteInner freedom is perhaps the spark of the science behind our experiences. The freer we feel in our lives, in our choices, and the events going on around us, the more grounded we become in our understanding. Knowing that this freedom, which we are all born with and yet only some regain, would act to naturally give us a sense of controlled comfort, yet not unyielding to the possibility of suffrage or struggle. Not to say this acceptance or inner knowing doesn’t come with a nice side dish of fear, but rather than allowing said fear to barricade progress, it is used as a launch pad forward. And the fear eventually ceases because with this knowledge comes the foresight that you actually have a say in the direction in which your next move is fired and with how much ammunition. 

Such a simple yet misunderstood concept of learning is we only need to learn something as long as it takes us to accept we have learned it. We’ve all heard the power of belief and it is my own, that they are ever more powerful than we’ve ever been taught. They are both the lock and the key to our inner strength and when put into motion with intense positivity, cycles can not only be broken but forever collapsed into the foundation of one’s personal integrity.

Tamara Rant is a Co-Editor/Writer for CLN as well as a Licensed Reiki Master, heart-centered Graphic Designer and a progressive voice in social media activism & awareness. She is an avid lover of all things Quantum Physics and Spirituality. Connect with Tamara by visiting Prana Paws/Healing Hearts Reiki or go to RantDesignMedia.com

Tamara posts new original articles to CLN every Saturday.

Follow Tamara on FacebookTwitter and Google+

This article was originally created and published by Conscious Life News and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Tamara Rant and ConsciousLifeNews.com. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this Copyright/Creative Commons statement.

Being Single Is More Deadly Than Obesity, Says Study

By Amanda Froelich | Truth Theory

It might feel good to spend time alone, or it may not. What is clear is that long periods of social isolation is bad for one’s health, and is even more likely to kill them than obesity.

According to a new review of 218 studies that looked into the effects of loneliness and social isolation, those with bad social connections are 50 percent more likely to die prematurely than those with good social connections. Obesity, on the other hand, increases a person’s risk of death by just 30 percent

Said Dr. Julianne Holt-Lunstad, lead author and professor at Brigham Young University: “Being connected to others socially is widely considered a fundamental human need, crucial to both well-being and survival.”

“Extreme examples show infants in custodial care who lack human contact fail to thrive and often die, and indeed, social isolation or solitary confinement has been used as a form of punishment,” she continued. “Yet an increasing portion of the US population now experiences isolation regularly.”

As a result of these findings, experts are warning that loneliness should be considered a public health risk. They add that we, as a society, are experiencing a “loneliness” epidemic.”

This isn’t the first data suggesting social isolation can adversely affect one’s health. A survey by Granset, the over-50s social networking site, concluded that nearly 75 percent of the elderly in the UK are lonely. Furthermore, most have never spoken to someone about their feelings.

Said Holt-Lunstad: “There is robust evidence that social isolation and loneliness significantly increase the risk for premature mortality, and the magnitude of the risk exceeds that of many leading health indicators.”

“With an increasingly aging population, the effect on public health is only anticipated to increase,” added Holt-Lunstad. “Indeed, many nations around the world now suggest we are facing a ‘loneliness epidemic.’ The challenge we face now is what can be done about it.”

The professor urges greater priority to be placed on research and developing resources to tackle loneliness. For example, children should be taught social skills to combat loneliness or voice their emotions in schools.

Source: The New York Post

Image Copyright: antonioguillem / 123RF Stock Photo

About the Author

 Amanda Froelich

I’m an RHN, plant-based chef, a freelance writer with 6+ years of experience, Reiki master therapist, world traveler and enthusiast of everything to do with animal rights, sustainability, cannabis, and conscious living. I share healthy recipes at Bloom for Life and cannabis-infused treats at My Stoned Kitchen. Read More stories by Amanda Froelich

Read more great articles at Truth Theory.

Tell-Tale Signs That Suggest You Might Be An INFJ – The World’s Rarest Personality Type

By Amanda Monteiro | Collective Evolution

Every day, people are reading books, watching documentaries, and seeking help with the intention of getting to know themselves better. The rise of self-help books – increasing 13.6% from 2005 to 2008 — speaks for itself, as does the $11 billion we spend on self-improvement books, CDs, seminars, coaching, and stress-management programs. We’re all working hard to scrape away bad habits we’ve carried on since childhood and new ones we’ve adopted as adults so we can better navigate the stressful lifestyles we’ve been pushed into.

There are certain methods that allow us to better prepare ourselves when it comes to how we respond to everyday aggravations. We can meditatejournal, and seek out help from our partner, friend, or therapist. These tools help to quiet our mind and, sometimes, if we’re lucky, offer us glimpses of our true Self. Now, what does this have to do with our personalities?

There is no clear definition of what a personality is, but it’s theorized to be a conjunction of habits, environmental influences, and past interactions and experiences. Psychologists have even gone so far as relating our personalities to our birth order, and how we were disciplined growing up. The definition of personality that I resonate most with is the traits that predict a person’s behavior, defined by Raymond Cattell. Cattell discovered the 16 separate primary trait factors within the normal personality sphere and created the 16 personality factor model with Maurice Tatsuoka and Herbert Eber. It’s based on decades of empirical research that psychologists and mental health professionals use today as an instrument to help diagnose psychological disorders. It can also help individuals better understand which career is best suited for them.

That being said, labels and definitions of you shouldn’t really be taken too seriously. Something like this is not the most helpful tool to describe you or who you are. Sometimes with information like this, one can take on the label and its characteristics which they are told best suits them. Sure it may assist us in our lives, but nobody can really tell you who you are. Just be yourself, and let go of the need to be defined with a specific label, don’t put yourself in a box.

16 Personality Types

Most of us are familiar with Carl Gustav Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist, and psychoanalyst who founded analytical psychology, also known as Jungian psychology. It uses psychological methods based on regular interaction to help people overcome their problems, and “emphasizes the importance of the individual psyche and the personal quest for wholeness,” an idea we celebrate here at Collective Evolution, given that each human being on Earth has separate needs and wants and should be treated accordingly.

Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers were inspired by Jung’s theory, that humans experience the world using four principal psychological functions — sensation, intuition, feeling, and thinking — and that one of these four functions is dominant for a person most of the time. Katherine and Isabel utilized this theory and created the Myers–Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) in 1944, a simple way to describe the order of each person’s Jungian preferences.

Mind, Energy, Nature, Tactics, and Identity are the five personality aspects that, combined, create and define personality type:

Mind: Extroversion vs. Introversion

Energy: Sensing vs. Intuition

Nature: Thinking vs. Feeling

Tactics: Judging vs. Perceiving

The 16 personality types are:

  1. Architect (INTJ, -A/-T)
  2. Logician (INTP, -A/-T)
  3. Commander (ENTJ, -A/-T)
  4. Debator (ENTP, -A/-T)
  5. Advocate (INFJ, -A/-T)
  6. Mediator (INFP, -A/-T)
  7. Protagonist (ENFJ, -A/-T)
  8. Campaign (ENFP, -A/-T)
  9. Logistician (ISTJ, -A/-T)
  10. Defender (ISFJ, -A/-T)
  11. Executive (ESTJ, -A/-T)
  12. Consul (ESFJ, -A/-T)
  13. Virtuoso (ISTP, -A/-T)
  14. Adventurer (ISFP, -A/-T)
  15. Entrepreneur (ESTP, -A/-T)
  16. Entertainer (ESFP, -A/-T)

You can find out which personality you are here.

Here’s How to Tell If You’re an INFJ Personality Type

INFJ people are amongst the rarest of personalities, occupying less than 1% of the population. They are more Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, and Judging. These individuals are active dreamers, as they don’t wait for their dreams to manifest, but rather create plans and concrete steps to realize their goals to make a sustainable, positive impact.

INFJs are altruistic in nature and are often found engaging in charitable tasks, but what truly sets them apart is their drive to create a world where people don’t need saving. They see the good in all beings and do not hold anyone at a higher or lower standard than them. They see all beings as equal and deserving of attention, comfort, and compassion.

People are very attracted to the warmness that INFJs exude, and usually feel very comfortable around them, often finding themselves divulging their deepest fears, secrets, and dreams. This type speaks in a language of energy and empathy, which forms a sensitive language that creates a safe environment for all. Close friends would label these individuals as extraverted and strangers would assume them to be introverts. This combination can be very tiring, so it’s important they allow themselves alone time to decompress and reconnect to themselves.

INFJs are highly intuitive and can tell someone’s true character within minutes of meeting them. They do not care for anything or anyone who is inauthentic or those they perceive to be dishonest, deceitful, or ineffectual. This doesn’t necessarily categorize them as judgemental, but just shows they truly know what they like. If any of their friends exhibit these behaviors, however, they are far more forgiving, as they have a full understanding of who that individual is and understands that their actions are based on insecurity and past trauma. They stray away from small talk, as they prefer deeper conversations that stimulate a positive energy exchange. They want to know the depths of your soul, what you’re passionate about, what you want to achieve in life, and how and if you’re interested in helping mankind.


The Noticeable Need to be Needily Noticed

Image result for needs metFor the past 3 years, I’ve had the pleasure of working out of my home. The INFJ, empathic introvert in me loved being able to interact with people from the comfort of my PJs, and often timezones apart. But after a while, I noticed boredom creeping in along with a pull for more actual human interaction.

Now, if you’re anything like me then you’ve spent years of your life getting your self-worth from doing things for others, whether it felt good or not, whether our gut told us “no”, our mouth always said “yeah, sure, of course, I can help”, even when it drained you emotionally, mentally or financially.

In recent years, however (and I know my period of reclusion contributed greatly), I began to realize that it doesn’t matter what you do or don’t do for others, if you do something with a resentful heart, people feel it. So, nowadays I give only when I can, and I’ve learned to accept that’s enough and that guilt is a waste of time.

Perhaps the biggest aspect of this lesson is knowing that if one gives from an empty cup, it leaves you feeling, well…empty. Yet when we begin to embrace that our own needs are just as valid and important as others, you also come to see that giving from a full cup ensures you are in the right place physically, emotionally, mentally and financially to give with an open heart and pure intent.

Why is it that so many of us absolutely must get our fill from others? Why do so many people feel completely ugly until someone compliments them? And oftentimes we don’t even believe people when they actually do say something nice to us, whether about our appearance, ideas, or how you cook a steak. Image result for self worth

I honestly feel that until one experiences the self-actualization that even if we were the only human alive on the planet, we would still have value and worth even though there’s no one around to let us know, remind us or reflect our own beauty back to us.

But once it happens there’s no going back. You innately recall that this familiar yet foreign undertone of not being enough is a huge damn lie and that the incessant and quite noticeable need to be needily noticed so many of us grew up with is a false facade.

Once we can realize we are not what other’s think or believe, that we are not measured by the weight of outer opinions and judgments, we set ourselves free…literally. As the legend, Bob Marley said it best…”None but ourselves can free our minds.”

Once we noticed our need to be noticed, we let go of the power it’s been given for so long. Once we face our ignored needs, we’ll notice the opportunities we’ve blocked showing up as when we are looking through the lens of insecurities, the world seems rather unsafe. It’s our own will to expand and grow and come into self-reflection that shows us who we really are.

So stop and notice, and then never forget. You are needed simply by being here. And that will always be enough…

Tamara Rant is a Co-Editor/Writer for CLN as well as a Licensed Reiki Master, heart-centered Graphic Designer and a progressive voice in social media activism & awareness. She is an avid lover of all things Quantum Physics and Spirituality. Connect with Tamara by visiting Prana Paws/Healing Hearts Reiki or go to RantDesignMedia.com

Tamara posts new original articles to CLN every Saturday.

Follow Tamara on FacebookTwitter and Google+

This article was originally created and published by Conscious Life News and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Tamara Rant and ConsciousLifeNews.com. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this Copyright/Creative Commons statement.

What Solar Eclipses Can Teach Us About Being Human


By Kira M. Newman | Greater Good Magazine

Clinical psychologist Kate Russo saw her first total solar eclipse in 1999 on the coast of France—fulfilling one of the bucket-list items she dreamt up as a teenager. Little did she know that the experience would change her life and determine the course of her career.

“After it happened, I was so, so gobsmacked and so surprised. I thought I knew what was going to happen, but I didn’t,” she recalls. “I just knew that I had to see another one.”

“Eclipse-chasers” aim to put themselves in what’s called the path of totality, the thin region where the sun is completely blocked out. Next Monday, a solar eclipse will occur where the path of totality arcs across the entire United States, offering Americans a unique opportunity to witness this astronomical phenomenon.

While partial eclipses are interesting—many people who recall seeing an eclipse probably saw a partial one—total eclipses are breathtaking. Full darkness descends as the moon blocks the sun and its shadow covers the Earth. Viewers can remove protective glasses and stare at the black circle and the “corona” of the sun—the wispy plasma that surrounds all-stars—with their naked eyes.

Since 1999, Russo has traveled around the globe, from Mongolia to Madagascar, to witness 10 total solar eclipses. (They occur somewhere about once every 18 months, although any given city will only see a total solar eclipse every 375 years.) She has also embarked on a research program to document and analyze the experiences of eclipse-chasers, publishing her findings in the books Total Addiction and Being in the Shadow.

We checked in with Russo, who plans to view next Monday’s eclipse from Wyoming, to learn why eclipses are such powerful experiences—and what that says about humanity.

Kira M. Newman: Based on your research and interviews, what are the common elements of the experience of viewing a total eclipse?

Dr. Kate Russo: My survey data was interesting because it showed me that, again and again, the eclipse-chasers were saying the same things. It was so amazing. For the first time, I was like, Oh my god, I’m not the only crazy one here! There is something about this experience that is so profound and really life-changing. I basically teased out the common elements of it, and it creates an acronym called SPACED.

What happens is that you’re standing there waiting for it to happen, and there’s this “sense of wrongness”—that’s the S. You’re picking up that there’s something in the environment that really is not right. This is the element that’s very hard to describe to people who haven’t seen it because they just imagine that it goes from day to night, and we all experience that every day. But there’s something otherworldly that happens; you just cannot communicate with other people how weird the environment gets. We pick up on a very primitive level that this is not right, that this is wrong; it’s like the rules of nature are turned on their head and it’s just too eerie.

And then that leads to primal fear. The hair on the back of our neck stands up, we get goosebumps, and this is the moment where the shadow comes towards us. You’re looking at the sky and there’s this creeping darkness; it’s so ominous and really wrong and we just think, What is going on? So, that’s the P, the “primal fear.”

And then as totality comes above you and the darkness descends, and you’re standing there in the shadow of the moon and you’re looking up and you’re seeing the eclipsed sun, it’s just the most spectacular thing you’ve seen. I know you’ve seen photos of it, but to actually see it with your naked eye is just mind-blowing; it’s incredible. That’s when we get that sense of complete “awe”—that’s the A.

We know the emotion of awe involves vastness: We get a sense of the significance of something and how powerful it is in relation to us, and so we feel insignificant ourselves. We have to actually change our mental structures to help us understand what we’re seeing because it’s just so vast, so huge.

I think the awe we experience during a total solar eclipse is very unique because it is the universe that we are experiencing. When you think about it, you are actually standing in the shadow of the moon, which is a solar object out there, and it’s the shadow that’s passing over us—that’s what the darkness is. Therefore, the moon is a three-dimensional object—and if that’s how vast it is, how much further does the universe extend? I believe it’s probably the strongest awe we can feel, apart from going into space and seeing our little planet from above.

So, we feel insignificant, but we also then feel “connected” to something greater—and that’s the C in SPACED. I myself feel connected to humanity and nature, so I just have this sense of how we are all one. It doesn’t matter what color, religion, background, the culture you come from, regardless of how you make sense of it, we all experience this. We are human beings standing there at that moment at that point in time, all connected with our experience.

We feel connected to our primitive ancestors, as well. I almost feel like time doesn’t matter anymore and I go back in time and I imagine: What if I’m a primitive ancestor and I have no idea this is happening and then suddenly everything you know about the world just disappears and it goes dark? And you absolutely would imagine it was the end of the world. And so you know how those people would have felt because you’re feeling elements of that yourself.

And then afterward is the “euphoria”—that’s the E. There’s such a range of intense emotion over a very, very short period of time, like a rollercoaster that happens within minutes. You have the most intense highs and it’s just incredible.

And then the total eclipse is over and then we are just left with this “desire to repeat,” and that’s the D. It’s so strong. If you’re in a group of people who have seen their first total eclipse, the next question is When’s the next one? People just can’t fathom the idea that that’s all it is; they have to see it again.

“I think the awe we experience during a total solar eclipse is probably the strongest awe we can feel, apart from going into space”―Dr. Kate Russo

KMN: How does seeing a total solar eclipse in a group affect the experience?

KR: I’ve seen totality in a group, I’ve seen it by myself, with my partner, I’ve seen it up in the mountains and in the ocean. Every time is different and unique and beautiful.

I think the group experience adds an element to it that is pretty hard to beat. Whenever you’re plunged into darkness and that ominous feeling, you can feel the group feeling that; it’s electric. And then as the shadow passes over you when everyone feels that euphoria, people scream out, people cry. The noises of the crowds just lift up and the sound really permeates within you. It is chilling, and that’s the moment that I get goosebumps. Even now, if I sit here and watch a video clip of totality happening above a crowd, I get goosebumps watching it—and it’s the sound of the crowd that does it for me.

But also when you’re experiencing totality itself, when you’re experiencing the awe, you turn inward then. It’s like you’re in a private moment with the universe, and it’s so, so powerful—it’s kind of like you’re in your own little world, you’re connected, the universe is speaking to you. And then at the end, it goes away and you’re sharing the crowd’s experience again. Everyone just comes together, there’s such a festive feeling, there’s a feeling of excitement and connection; you’re hugging people you’ve never seen before, there are tears, you’re sharing emotional stories.

KMN: I’ve very goosebump-prone, so I’m getting goosebumps just hearing you talk about it.

KR: I think that there are some people that are primed to be eclipse-chasers. There are some people who are more sensate than others. If you’re someone who can have a very deep emotional reaction to a piece of music, for example, or hear someone talking about something with passion and have it really resonate within you, I think these are the types of people who become eclipse-chasers when they see a total solar eclipse because the experience is so profound.

It usually is one of the most profound experiences of people’s lives. I’ve heard grown men say that it was more important than the birth of their child. It’s very, very powerful. If you love to travel and you’re one of these people who experience things like that, and you’ve got little passions and hobbies in your life already, then you’re probably primed when you see the first total solar eclipse. It might change your life, too.

But you have to see the total eclipse. None of this happens during a partial eclipse.

KMN: You mention that seeing a total solar eclipse can create motivation and meaning in life for certain people, beyond just the desire to chase eclipses. Can you talk more about that?

KR: For me, it has given me so much passion and drive to experience life to the full. Every time I see a total solar eclipse, it just confirms that I’m doing the exact thing I should be doing, and I just feel so much energy. I feel so humbled that I’ve had this insight into life, that [otherwise] I may only have gotten through experiencing loss.

You learn life insights when you’re about to lose someone or when you have lost someone. You understand that it’s so important to live in the moment, to take things day by day; you understand that it’s the experiences you have and the people you share them with—that’s what life is all about. And we tend to only really fully appreciate that when we’ve lost someone, and then some people go on to say, Okay, I know how fragile life is, I’m therefore going to make some big changes. The same thing happens during a total solar eclipse, except there’s no loss. When you ask how has it enriched my life, it just makes me feel so passionate, so humble; I want to do things for others.

I always say that if everybody sees a total solar eclipse, the world would be a better place.

Read more great articles at Greater Good Magazine.

How the Human Heart Functions as a Second Brain

Jacqueline & Pao Chang | Waking Times

The word “heart” is an anagram for the word “earth”. Hence, the phrase “home is where the heart is”.

Did you know that the human heart is the organ that generates the strongest electromagnetic field of any organ of the human body? In fact, the electromagnetic field of your heart can be measured up to a few feet away from your body. Furthermore, this energy field changes in relation to your emotions. One thing you should know about the electromagnetic field is that every organ and cell in your body generates an energy field.

Because the heart generates the strongest electromagnetic field, the information stored in its electromagnetic field affects every organ and cell in your body. Could this be why the heart is the first organ to function in a fetus? Besides generating the strongest electromagnetic field, the heart has an intelligence of its own, which is why certain neuroradiologists refer to it as the heart-brain or the fifth brain.

According to neuroradiologists, the heart is not only made of muscle cells but also neurons. Researchers at the Institute of HeartMath have done experiments proving that the heart’s role is not limited to just pumping blood. They believe it has intelligence and plays a major role in the perception of reality.

Related Article: This Short Meditation Will Relax You & Center You in Your Heart

Here is an excerpt from my book Staradigm that talks about the deeper roles of the heart:

The heart is one of the most important organs in the human body because it is one of the main mediums for connecting us to each other and the Universe. Conventional science has taught us that the main role of the heart is to pump blood to all the systems of the body. This definition of the heart is not very accurate. Besides pumping blood, the heart also has an intelligence of its own.

According to neuroradiologists, 60 to 65 percent of heart cells are neuron cells, not muscle cells.1This discovery has helped them to develop experiments that have proved the heart works similar to the brain and in some ways is even superior to the brain. This may be the reason why the heart is the first organ to function after conception. Within about 20 days after conception, the heart starts to function, but the brain does not function until after roughly 90 days. This information tells us that the brain is secondary to the heart.

The Heart, Brain, and Feelings

The brain and the heart are sometimes said to work in opposition. We are constantly trying to determine whether to place more emphasis on our thoughts or feelings. Rational people would say that the mind is the key to keeping us out of trouble, as the mind thinks in terms of what has the most payoff and is quite possible the safest or most calculated risk.

The heart, on the other hand, allows us to feel what is best at an internal level that connects to our intuition. Operating with either one of these alone, only the mind or the heart can sometimes lead us into trouble. The mind can be afraid to seek happiness outside of the comfort zone, and the heart sometimes urges decisions that are unknown and risky, but using the two in balance can bring great clarity to a person.

Related Article: Open Your Heart Chakra with This Simple Yoga Pose

Follow the heart is a common phrase that is tossed around, but it is not necessarily easy to enact. Follow the heart means letting deep feelings draw us one way or another without a logical answer or obvious reasoning. This organ provides a feeling of intuition or guidance, but we must have the contentment and the confidence to understand when it is pushing us in a direction, and then act upon this with complete faith in the outcome. Our feelings are what help us to understand the world beyond logic and therefore they are the keys to understanding the spiritual aspects of ourselves.

The Intelligence of the Heart

Some researchers and neuroradiologists are pushing the idea that the heart can actually act like another brain, helping to guide us with a different form of intelligence. Many physiological studies are currently being done regarding the interconnection of the heart and the brain, and why certain sensations and feelings are experienced at the level of the heart. Generally, love and certain emotional states are felt at the heart level, producing different physiological reactions of the heart.

Heartbeats have been found to be affected by inner states and emotions, including disorder in heart rhythms when we are experiencing stress or negative emotion. Conversely, when we are feeling positive, the heart rhythms are more cohesive and beat more regularly and steadily.

The nervous system of the heart contains roughly 40,000 neurons or sensory neurites. One of its roles is to monitor the heart’s hormones, neurochemicals, heart rate, and pressure information. The information about how these chemicals behave is also sent to the brain. The heart and brain are always communicating through the vagus nerve system and the electromagnetic field of the body. It is through this dynamic communication process that the consciousness of the heart can change how the brain process information. This process can also affect how energy flows in the body.

These findings indicate that the heart works with the brain and body, including the amygdala, to process emotions and incorporate emotional memories. The amygdala is the part of the brain that assists us in making decisions about incoming information and processing them based on our past experiences. This shows a link between the emotions and feelings and the actual brain and body physiology.

Other mental attitudes and stress also affect the body and our overall health, and these issues can be linked to the heart as well. Recent scientific research has determined that the emotions of anger, anxiety, and other negative feelings can significantly increase the risk of heart disease. Therefore, stressful situations and high anxiety levels negatively affect the heart as an organ.

Connecting the brain and the heart as its own emotional processing center is a topic that many researchers are focusing on. It has been shown that emotions experienced mentally will also manifest physically in the body, and feelings can affect the rhythms and beating of the heart. The best way to maintain a healthy heart is to not only eat a healthy diet but also incorporate meditation techniques to balance the energy of the heart and brain.

Why the Heart Holds the key to World Peace

The heart helps us to understand the world through feelings. It allows us to understand our reality in a universal kind of way, giving us universal characteristics. This biological electromagnetic field generator allows us to understand each other at the emotional level and beyond, giving us a sense of connection to all things. This emotional connection is what creates bonding between individuals.

When we learn how to think with our hearts, it becomes easier for us to understand others and live in harmony with them. For these reasons, the heart holds the key to uniting humanity and achieving world peace.

About the Author

Pao L. Chang is the author and founder of OmniThought.org and EnergyFanatics.com. His main goal is to empower you with the knowledge that is beyond the conventional paradigm to help free your mind and increase your spiritual well-being to a whole new level

Your Brain Performs Better When It Slows Down (Video)

Video Source: BigThink

Best-selling author Steven Kotler visited Big Think to discuss the optimization of consciousness through flow states, a key topic in his recently published book, The Rise of Superman. The best way to describe a flow state is to use the example of practically every action movie released since The Matrix. Experiencing flow is similar to being in “bullet time.” Like Keanu Reeves’ Neo (though certainly not on his level), a person in flow obtains the ability to keenly hone their focus on the task at hand so that everything else disappears.

Kotler describes it like this:

“So our sense of self, our sense of self-consciousness, they vanish. Time dilates which means sometimes it slows down. You get that freeze frame effect familiar to any of you who have seen The Matrix or been in a car crash. Sometimes it speeds up and five hours will pass by in like five minutes. And throughout all aspects of performance, mental and physical, go through the roof.”

While this may sound like sci-fi hocus pocus, Kotler explains that beneath a flow state lies “a complicated mass of neurobiology.” There’s a common myth that humans only use about 10% of their brains. If we were to assume this (and we wouldn’t, because it’s bogus), an optimal performance would then mean the brain works harder and faster to achieve 100% efficiency. As Kotler explains, the 10% myth has it all backward:

“Inflow, parts of the brain aren’t becoming more hyperactive, they’re actually slowing down, shutting down. The technical term for this is transient, meaning temporary, hypofrontality. Hypo – H – Y – P – O – it’s the opposite of hyper means to slow down, to shut down, to deactivate. And frontality is the prefrontal cortex, the part of your brain that houses your higher cognitive functions, your sense of morality, your sense of will, your sense of self.”

The prefrontal cortex also calculates time. When we experience transient hypofrontality, we lose the ability to assess past, present, and future. As Kotler explains it, “we’re plunged into what researchers call the deep now.”

So what causes transient hypofrontality? It was once assumed that flow states are an affliction reserved only for schizophrenics and drug addicts, but in the early 2000s a researcher named Aaron Dietrich realized that transient hypofrontality underpins every altered state — from dreaming to mindfulness to psychedelic trips and everything in between.

Sometimes these altered states involve other parts of the brain shutting down. For example, when the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex disconnects, your sense of self-doubt and the brain’s inner critic get silenced. This results in boosted states of confidence and creativity.

Kotler describes it as his mission over the past 15 years to reclaim the study of flow states from “the hippie community” and place it back within the gaze of hard science. While researchers have been studying flow for over 140 years, recent advances in brain imaging technology have led to significant neuroscientific revelations and should lead to many more. Whether or not we’ll be able to develop a “Neo switch” so that bullet time can be all the time… well, I suppose it depends on just how far the rabbit hole goes.

Evolved To Forgive: People Are More Forgiving Than You’d Think [VIDEO]

Source: SciShow

Scientists report that humans might be quick to judge, but we may have also evolved to be quick to forgive.

A recent study found that when assessing the moral character of others, people cling to good impressions but readily adjust their opinions about those who have behaved badly, according to new research.

This flexibility in judging transgressors might help explain both how humans forgive — and why they sometimes stay in bad relationships, said the study’s authors.

The research — conducted by psychologists at Yale, University of Oxford, University College London, and the International School for Advanced Studies — appeared Sept. 17 in the journal Nature Human Behaviour.

We are predisposed to forgive, new research suggests
Beliefs about bad people are volatile


How Many Different Human Emotions Are There?

By Yasmin Anwar | Greater Good Magazine

Psychology once assumed that most human emotions fall within the universal categories of happiness, sadness, anger, surprise, fear, and disgust. But a new study from Greater Good Science Center faculty director Dacher Keltner suggests that there are at least 27 distinct emotions—and they are intimately connected with each other.

Using novel statistical models to analyze the responses of more than 800 men and women to over 2,000 emotionally evocative video clips, Keltner and his colleagues at UC Berkeley created a multidimensional, interactive map to show how feelings like envy, joy, pride, and sadness relate to each other.

“We found that 27 distinct dimensions, not six, were necessary to account for the way hundreds of people reliably reported feeling in response to each video,” said study senior author Keltner, whose findings recently appeared in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

emotion map
A map of human emotion

Moreover, in contrast to the notion that each emotional state is an island, the study found that “there are smooth gradients of emotion between, say, awe and peacefulness, horror and sadness, and amusement and adoration,” Keltner said.

“We don’t get finite clusters of emotions in the map because everything is interconnected,” said study lead author Alan Cowen, a doctoral student in neuroscience at UC Berkeley. “Emotional experiences are so much richer and more nuanced than previously thought.”

“Our hope is that our findings will help other scientists and engineers more precisely capture the emotional states that underlie moods, brain activity, and expressive signals, leading to improved psychiatric treatments, an understanding of the brain basis of emotion, and technology responsive to our emotional needs,” he added.

For the study, a demographically diverse group of 853 men and women went online to view a random sampling of silent five- to 10-second videos intended to evoke a broad range of emotions.

Themes from the 2,185 video clips—collected from various online sources for the study—included births and babies, weddings and proposals, death and suffering, spiders and snakes, physical pratfalls and risky stunts, sexual acts, natural disasters, wondrous nature, and awkward handshakes.

“There are smooth gradients of emotion between awe and peacefulness, horror and sadness, and amusement and adoration”―Dacher Keltner, Ph.D.

Three separate groups of study participants watched sequences of videos, and, after viewing each clip, completed a reporting task. The first group freely reported their emotional responses to each of 30 video clips.

“Their responses reflected a rich and nuanced array of emotional states, ranging from nostalgia to feeling ‘grossed out,’” Cowen said.

The second group ranked each video according to how strongly it made them feel admiration, adoration, aesthetic appreciation, amusement, anger, anxiety, awe, awkwardness, boredom, calmness, confusion, contempt, craving, disappointment, disgust, empathic pain, entrancement, envy, excitement, fear, guilt, horror, interest, joy, nostalgia, pride, relief, romance, sadness, satisfaction, sexual desire, surprise, sympathy, and triumph.

Here, the experimenters found that participants converged on similar responses, with more than half of the viewers reporting the same category of emotion for each video.

The final cohort rated their emotional responses on a scale of 1 to 9 to each of a dozen videos based on such dichotomies as positive versus negative, excitement versus calmness, and dominance versus submissiveness. Researchers were able to predict how participants would score the videos based on how previous participants had assessed the emotions the videos elicited.

Overall, the results showed that study participants generally shared the same or similar emotional responses to each of the videos, providing a wealth of data that allowed researchers to identify 27 distinct categories of emotion.

Through statistical modeling and visualization techniques, the researchers organized the emotional responses to each video into a semantic atlas of human emotions. On the map, each of the 27 distinct categories of emotion corresponds to a particular color.

“We sought to shed light on the full palette of emotions that color our inner world,” Cowen said.

About the Author

{author}Yasmin Anwar is a Media Relations Representative at UC Berkeley.

Read more great articles at Greater Good Magazine.

How to Decode The Hidden Positive Message of Your Ego

Most of us have at least heard of the ego and most of us who have probably had a negative impression of what it is. Sigmund Freud’s work with the human ego or “id” (ID or identity; personality construct) tells us that it’s development is a necessary part of who we are.  Without it, there is no “I” for us to identify with. Freud goes on to claim that without the ego, our minds would have no conscious way to comprehend where “we” end and the rest of the world “begins”.

“You can either be a host to God or a hostage to your ego. It’s your call.” – Wayne Dyer

I’ve always been a HUGE fan of Freud’s (more so around his less-popular theories on sexuality) and completely agree that without our egos, we would all be leaning toward completely unmotivated. The ego, if used properly as the tool is it meant to be, can show us areas within ourselves that still need healing. The trick, however, to working with the ego is to remember that it does WHATEVER it takes to prevent expansion, growth, change and pretty much anything outside of your comfort zone. It is an expert at convincing you that you are making good, productive choices for yourself when in actuality you literally could be setting lit matches to your proverbial tree-house.

So, the key here is to first study the ego and figure out exactly how it works and maneuvers. Guaranteed it is always sneaky, coercive, and slick in how it will make suggestions for your next move, word or action. But once we know how it works, we’ve pretty much disabled out ego’s best weapon (stealth). And now, we just need to keep playing the game and observing.

“The ego is not master in its own house.” – Sigmund Freud

As we watch our ego in play we will begin to see patterns emerge which will make clear exactly how we are “still stuck” in life situations we swore to ourselves we would’ve had resolved weeks, months or even years ago. We will begin to see how our ego was the one whispering in our ear that “He’ll change and treat me with kindness if I just stick around long enough and prove how much I love him.” or “I deserve to eat this tub of ice cream because I had such a bad day today.”

There are ENDLESS examples that we could list here, but the point is, anything you can think of where you’re subconscious mind convinced you to do something that was not in your best interest, that was not serving your highest Self, was the workings of your EGO doing what it does best and keeping you in the same little box it has grown to love and adore to keep you living small!

So, how do we beat this little trickster at its’ own game? First, we need to find that place in our hearts to stop looking at the ego through eyes of judgment and see it through eyes of love. Only then can we shift the energy around our ego from one of annoyance and avoidance to one of willingness to integrate what we can learn from it. And eventually, this process will allow us to grow past the blocks that the ego has previously succeeded in throwing onto our path.

When we know ahead of time the signature signs that certain thoughts, motivations, reactions, etc. are ego-driven, then we are empowered with the knowledge of how to take the next best step. And an uninformed person with a leading ego might end up writing a bunch of accusatory emails they later regret, or shout at their children for no reason, or sabotage a health regimen they’ve put in place for themselves. Why? Because their ego was successful in convincing them it was in their best interest in that particular moment, and because they were in “reactive” mode (letting the outer world determine their moods, thoughts, next move, etc.) they went with it.

This is the difference between living a life of struggle and living a life of true empowerment. As we learn to master the latter, of course, we may shift back and forth between the two as with anything it’s definitely a learning process. However, the more you take the time to observe yourself and your ego the more familiar you become with it all and the simpler it becomes to stay in PRO-active mode.

Once you get a taste of empowered living, there’s no giving that up, there’s no going back to sleep. It would be like locking away your most valuable tool and never using it again; because you have seen how when you move from a proactive, empowered place, the game is yours and YOU now make the rules. Do you feel the difference there? Between insecure, needy, fear-based ego and secured, empowered, healthy ego?

I truly believe the ego is meant to help humanity, not harm it. It is only when we as individuals allow our minds and actions to be ruled by ego does it negatively affect our lives and the lives of those around us. But the ego is best used as a compass of sorts, pointing the way to what areas within us need healing and integration so we can rise up energetically and show up in our lives as we were meant to; connected, yet unique slivers of cosmic Creator Consciousness.

If we listen closely, there is another voice underneath the egos’ loudness that speaks only Truth and has only our best interest in mind. This voice belongs to our intuition, our Higher Selves (Spirit) and if we wish to master the use of our egos, it is wise to let it be guided by Spirit. This is how we develop “healthy” egos that allow us to speak up for ourselves, say no to people with feeling guilty, say yes to people without feeling drained, speak our Truth, and stand authentically in our lives without feeling insecure or feeling the need to incessantly compare ourselves to others.

Another gauge of a healthy ego is that we are okay spending time with ourselves and doing things on our own. We really only feel the need to reach out for assistance when truly necessary and learn to truly value the time, energy and presence of others – because that is how much we now value our own time, energy and presence.

Tamara Rant is a Co-Editor/Writer for CLN as well as a Licensed Reiki Master, heart-centered Graphic Designer and a progressive voice in social media activism & awareness. She is an avid lover of all things Quantum Physics and Spirituality. Connect with Tamara by visiting Prana Paws/Healing Hearts Reiki or go to RantDesignMedia.com

Tamara posts new original articles to CLN every Saturday.

Follow Tamara on FacebookTwitter and Google+

This article was originally created and published by Conscious Life News and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Tamara Rant and ConsciousLifeNews.com. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this Copyright/Creative Commons statement.

Experiment Demonstrates The Deadly Power Of Social Compliance

By Dylan Charles | Waking Times

In his 1974 book, Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View, Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram discusses in detail the findings of his now-famous experiment. Milgram demonstrated just how easy it is to convince an ordinary person to commit torture and murder under the instruction of an authority figure.

Intrigued by the role of Nazi military personnel in concentration camps during WWII, Milgram wanted to know how much coercion people needed in order to willingly inflict harm on another person.

“He asked volunteers to deliver an electric shock to a stranger. Unbeknownst to the volunteers, there was no shock—and the people they were shocking were actors pretending to be terribly hurt, even feigning heart attacks. Milgram found that most people would keep delivering the shocks when ordered by a person in a lab coat, even when they believed that person was gravely injured. Only a tiny percentage of people refused.” [Source]

The suggested conclusion is that people are inherently unable to think for themselves when given a subordinate role in some authoritarian hierarchy, such as the role of the ordinary citizen in a state-controlled world. A documentary of this experiment can be seen here.

The Milgram study was controversial in that some felt the results were skewed in favor of a predetermined bias. In the fifty-plus years since the experiment, there have been no other major research studies to confirm Milgram’s findings. Nevertheless, the presumption that normal people will go as far as to commit murder if they are relieved of responsibility by an authority figure feels inherently truthful in a world of so many organized atrocities.

The question is:

“Can we be manipulated through social pressure to commit murder?” ~Derren Brown

It’s an important question at a time when the converging technologies of AI and social media are affecting individual and group psychology in not yet understood ways. British illusionist Derren Brown recently conducted a similar experiment, this time in a feature documentary for Netflix entitled, The Push.

“This show is about how readily we hand over authorship of our lives, every day, and the dangers of losing that control,” says Brown, who organized the reality TV-like experiment in which ordinary people were duped into doing things most of us would never even consider.

At the heart of the experiment lies the powerful effects of social pressure and social compliance, along with the individual’s inherent need to belong and fit into society. It also questions the nature of individuality, while demonstrating that many of us simply don’t have the courage to assert our own moral courage when faced with even a slight amount of authoritarian pressure.

The Push begins with a phony police officer calling a cafe worker on the phone and in a quick minute, without even a face-to-face interaction, convinces this person to steal a woman’s baby. Interestingly, the worker carries out the abduction even while expressing significant hesitance.

The main experiment picks up from there, involving unwitting subjects who are gradually convinced of the need to push another person off of a high-rise building. It’s an elaborate setup, which builds upon one small act of compliance after another until the subject is put into a situation where they are encouraged to kill a man they just met.

It’s a rather theatrical and unscientific presentation, but the results are noteworthy as three out of four participants actually shove an actor off of a building, believing they are committing murder, after being pressured into it by a small group of others. It’s a shocking act of compliance and subservience to the pressures of a peer group and a persistent authority figure.

What we don’t know about society today, though, is just how many people are this extremely socially compliant, capable of doing anything to appease the directives of others. As Brown notes, “the more socially compliant a person is, the more likely they are to look to others for signs on how to behave. And the more people, the greater the pressure to join in.”

This says a great deal about humans. Are we somehow wired to abandon our own morals and sense of self-integrity for the false belief that fitting into a group is necessary for survival?

A trailer for this show is seen below.

About the Author

Dylan Charles is the editor of Waking Times and co-host of Redesigning Reality, both dedicated to ideas of personal transformation, societal awakening, and planetary renewal. His personal journey is deeply inspired by shamanic plant medicines and the arts of Kung Fu, Qi Gong, and Yoga. After seven years of living in Costa Rica, he now lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains, where he practices Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and enjoys spending time with family. He has written hundreds of articles, reaching and inspiring millions of people around the world.

This article (Experiment Demonstrates the Deadly Power of Social Compliancewas originally created and published by Waking Times and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Dylan Charles and WakingTimes.com. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this copyright statement.

Read more great articles at Waking Times.