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Meditation

Contemplation – Benefits of Introspection

Death and rebirth

Three years ago, I lost someone that I loved which was very difficult. It was painful. I touched rock bottom; I was depressed and with no energy to do anything in life.

I have imagined a marathon runner losing his legs, a writer losing his eyes and a basketball player losing his arms. These people have lost part of their life, as I did, and I needed to open my eyes to different perspectives. Nevertheless, it is painful to accept the reality.

Finding happiness in everything you do

After such event, I understood that material things come and go, but when a love is gone, he or she can’t ever be replaced. Since then, I take my time to enjoy the small events around me, such as watching my dogs play, contemplating my brother’s reading, watching birds bathing in the river… Even the air that I inhale I enjoy.

You may ask yourself, “Why is the reason that Sandro is telling me his life?” Because I want to share something that made my life more fulfilling, less stressful and happier, with greater knowledge and imagination.

Learn to focus on yourself

Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” I will touch on this later in this article.

I have read the same concept that I’m about to share over and over again from different authors, such as recognized psychologists, ancient philosophers, mathematicians, and even the Bible talks about it. And I have applied it in my life.

However this concept is not superficial. The need for inner change needs to be applied to be able to perform it.

To begin with, I comprehend that we need to control our mind, not the other way around – letting our mind control us. Once we can control our thoughts and get rid of the desires that society has make us crave, we can begin our journey.

Practice makes the master

It requires a lot of practice to master the mind and it can be very difficult, but not impossible, for people who drag their past issues around with them. There are many books and therapies that can help with past issues.

Once past issues are taken care of, mastering the mind will be our priority. By the way, to achieve anything worthy in life, effort and persistence is a requirement. Now back to the concept.

Here is how an author put it to me, “Everything is always created twice, first in the mind and then in reality”

In other words, whatever it is that we want, we need to take time to think about how we see ourselves in the future. We need to see ourselves doing the steps required for us to be where we want to be.

As an example – if you want a healthy body, shut your phone off, be in a quiet place, close your eyes, take two deep breaths and think about you with a healthy body as you want it.

Think about your workouts, about the weights that you are lifting, about the food that you are eating (healthy food of course), about your hiking, etc. Soon enough you will be operating at your desire thoughts.

This works in all aspects of your life, monetary, relationships and others.

One more thing that makes my life happier is my purpose

I do not have to think about work anymore. To me, I play every day. There is not a single day that I do not want to be in my studio or waking up. I’m looking forward to continue my day, my week, my month and my year.

The reason is because I have found my purpose.

Like I always say, all the amazing brains such, such as Albert Einstein, Mother Teresa, Buddha, Gandhi, Jesus, Socrates and those who left a positive mark in life, recommend that we need to find our purpose. And such purpose needs to be “worthy,” worthy meaning that our purpose needs to help others and make this world a better place.

There is magic in all the knowledge that these transcendent people left for us, & there are benefits of introspection. Let’s take advantage of it and be happy. It that not what we all are looking for?

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Are The People Around You Holding You Down?

 

Do you know who Anthony Robbins is?

If not, don’t worry, I didn’t know either. However I am currently reading one of his best selling books where he talks openly about his personal battle with being overweight.

He mentions how he was extremely overweight and how he realized all he needed to do was observe and model people who were thin, find out what they ate, how they ate, what they thought, what their beliefs were, and he could produce the same results.

Drop those who are pulling you back

He made me think about past articles where I talk about how important is to leave “crab” people behind and continue with your fitness journey.

Crabs have a tendency to pull another crab back.

When fishermen catch crabs they put them in a bucket. And becasue they want space they attempt to climb up to the top but all the time others pull them down. Sound familiar?

Many people do the same with others who try to succeed in their weight loss program

There are many reasons. Some people are lazy and don’t want you to be progressing because they don’t want to be left behind. Others simply don’t want to lose you and since you are adopting different habits they feel that you are spending less time with them.

Their reasoning usually is not about supporting you.

This makes me think about the people who we spend time with. Are they people of progression or are they time wasters?

We all model other people. Subconsciously we model our peers, co-workers, families and celebrities.

Negative people pull us down from our success, but even then we also model them making our positive change even harder.

 

This behavior keeps us in the comfort zone, gets us used to the negativity and it is hard for us to see a success.

Have you heard about the 100 Monkeys Effect?

There were 100 monkeys that couldn’t cut open coconuts. They traveled from their region and found another troop of monkeys whom they saw breaking coconuts by smashing them against rocks.

The impossible mission to cut open the coconuts was now possible for them. People see events impossible until they find others succeeding in the impossible event. It is the same in human endeavour. It’s a fact that once somebody breaks a barrier – the Four Minute Mile, swimming the English Channel etc – then very quickly others follow…

Do you want to succeed in your weight loss and fitness journey?

Presumably you do. Then stop modeling people who have negative habits, cut the “crab” out of your life, and model people who have been successful in their weight loss and fitness goals.

Do you want to know how experienced people do it? Do you need models to follow?

You can follow family or friends who are self-motivated, already following a healthy lifestyle and start making plan with them. Another idea is to go to the gym, find a fit person and interview them.

You could also visit your local gym and meet people who are on the way to achieving their goals or have already achieved them.

Does it sound easy enough for you to get to your fitness goals? The reason why it sounds easy is because it is. Act upon your knowledge. Action is what makes people successful in attaining their weight and fitness goals.

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How to Replace Your Bad Habits with Good Habits

Bad habits lie in wait for us to adopt them, like evil pets!

We can find them around the corner with no effort. And once we have adopted them, they make our lives unhealthy and often unhappy.

One of my clients, “Bob,” told me recently that he doesn’t like to miss his exercise sessions because when he does he gets too comfortable and he might stop coming at all. He has achieved his first goal of losing 24 pounds. He’s 61 and thought that it would be almost impossible to lose weight, yet he achieved it. He’s now going for five more pounds.

One of Bob’s strengths is that he knows his weaknesses and is willing to fight them. Many of us don’t want to see it when we are sliding down the slope into bad habits, but Bob does and works to prevent relapses.

From personal experience I know that life is a constant fight to adopt and maintain positive habits. Unlike bad habits, however, good habits are not easy to adopt. Nonetheless the benefit of good habits is a higher quality of life, which in turn means happiness.

Motivation

Bob came to see me because he knew he needed motivation to start a good habit, and now that’s really acquired it, he has the will continue exercising himself.

To stay on track, Bob focuses on the benefits that a good habit like exercise provides – such as weight loss, better appearance, strength, fewer visits to doctors, diminishing aches and more energy. Plus, the exercise habit has nowmotivated him to improve other habits and he eats better now.

Bad habits cannot be “deleted,” only replaced by good habits. And once you start by adopting one positive habit, other positive habits are easier to get on board. One becomes more conscious of one’s ability to improve and keeps going! Our health depends on our good habits.

Whoever thinks that practicing negative behaviors only for a short time will be exempt from consequences is making a mistake. It’s like playing with fire and not wanting to get burned.

You can be the prisoner of  your bad habits

 

When I was young I got into drinking, but a wise man saw me messing up and asked if I planned to drink like that my whole life. I was shocked and told him no.

He continued: “Do you think the people who become alcoholics or addicts dream of becoming alcoholics or addicts?”
“No,” I responded again.
“So,” he pursued, “you think you can control your drinking, but let me tell you, it becomes a habit and soon you’ll be prisoner of that habit. People who become addicted think that they are the exception.”

I’ve never forgotten those wise words. Since then, I’m cautious about my habits. People don’t plan to become a slave of their desires or addictions; instead they like to make choices.

Be strong willed

I’m gratefu I have the willpower to choose to make progress and improve my health and my body, just like Bob. He’s has chosen to better his life over his couch-potato tendencies. He’s happy to be leaving behind a sedentary lifestyle to improve his health and quality of life.

Psalm 126, verses 5-6 tell us that, “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He, who goes out weeping carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.” My take on this ancient wisdomthat they are talking in their own way about habits.

Bob and I understand that good habits are the only genuine way to lose weight and keep it off. Don’t believe those silly TV and Internet ads: There isno shortcut!

Is weight loss your goal?

Do an inventory of your habits and find out which bad habits are making you gain weight. Then, start developing good habits that will do the opposite. Keep in mind that you may be so used to your bad habits that you might not be able to identify them. And you may have become so attached to those bad habits that unconsciously you don’t want to give them up.

Believe in yourself

But believe in change: You are stronger than any bad habit you have developed. Reclaim your life and start losing the pounds  you always wanted to lose.

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How Your Environment Affects What You Eat

If you don’t control your mind, someone else will.

— John Allston

How do you make decisions?

Are the decisions you are making strictly your own, or are they influenced by someone else?  Do you think you have control over your mind or that your mind has control over you?  Is junk food really what you want, or did someone else put that idea in your head?

I made some bad decisions in the past that yielded bad results.  These decisions were based on my experiences, knowledge, beliefs and feelings.

Went things went wrong, I used to blame it on everything and everyone.  I thought I was born with destructive desires and that there was nothing I could do to fix it.

First step: admitting blame

My negative desires were so powerful that I enjoyed them and I didn’t want to do anything about them because they gave me immediate pleasure.  Thinking about the future results of my negative behaviors was not one of my strong points.

There came a time when I admitted I was making wrong decisions and wanted to change.  I became hungry for knowledge.  This was the first time I challenged myself with questions that challenged societal norms.

The truth is that soon everything started to make sense to me.  I understoodwhy people were different and why cultures have different beliefs.

For some people it is very difficult to ask questions that go against their beliefs because their life has been guided by those beliefs.  It would be like building a house, living a comfortable life there and suddenly demolishing it.

Overcome negative influences from the environment

I started studying why I’d been making bad decisions.  It was partly because of the information I got from friends, teachers, my parents, TV and my surroundings.  This is what we call environment: everything that surrounds us and affects us.

A social environment is usually designed by the beliefs of the majority.  For example, if most people say that the earth is flat, then most people believe it.  Or if most people say that diseases are genetic, most people believe it.  And when someone goes against these norms, they are seen as being out of touch.

So my research led me to understand that my brain was programmed according to the environment and that no one taught me how to control my feelings.  I had no control over my mind.

The difference between a computer and a human being is that we have feelings upon which we base our decisions.  Machines make decisions according to their programming only.

Even if I don’t want it to, environment does affect my brain.  The reality is thatI can’t control my outside environment, but I can control how I respond to it.

Negative influences within your environment

For instance, if there are commercials on TV that make a particular food sound very delicious and cheap, I can choose not to watch TV at all.  I can’t control the commercials, but I can control what I can do about it.

This is why I would avoid TV: I’ve learned that food commercials are designed to touch us in a deeper level.  They may play upon a feeling, such as happiness, boredom, depression and so on.  Remember that more than 85 percent of our actions are unconscious, so these commercials affect our unconscious decisions leading us to choose these specific foods.

Friends

My friends can also affect my decisions. Sometimes we choose what our friends choose simply because we want to be accepted by them.  By choosing the same foods, even though we know these foods are not good, we feel accepted.  However, if I want to control what I eat, I need to control my decisions, but I can’t control my friend’s decisions, including their rejection.  I might want to find new friends.

Common wisdom

So-called common wisdom is another way environment affects me.  I used to trust authority, but now I question everything, and I make sure I find real research that backs up any statement. I use common sense as well.  I noticed that believing without questioning put me on the wrong path. Therefore I don’t take action without doing my own research.  (Well, I can still be foolish once in a while but not that often and soon I get back in track).

Environment will always affect the decisions I’ll make in the future.  However, I can also affect my environment by choosing what to watch, what to read and who to be with, and by actively searching for knowledge.

“It is virtually impossible to understand how biology works outside the context of environment.”

–Dr. Robert Sapolsky

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Acceptance and Empathy – Understanding Your Depression

“Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar poured on a wound, is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.”

— Proverbs 25:20

Understanding your depression

It was a dark night. I was alone in my room with a lot of pain in my heart. Negative — even suicidal — thoughts were in my head.

Three months earlier, my life had been good.  I was a regular person with the same desires as anyone else.  Then it happened; I lost a loved one.  I thought this could only happen to famous people, a neighbour, or a co-worker, but I never thought it would happen to me.

I had never lost a loved one before.  After three months I discovered that things were even worse than I imagined.

Living in silence with depression

So there I was in my bed, feeling demons around me reminding me that I deserve the pain,  that if I had made better decisions in my life, it would have been different.  Even though the light was on, the room felt dark.

In silence with my depression, I started asking myself questions that I would never forget: “Why is everyone happy and I’m not?”, “Is there is something wrong with my life or are people good at faking their lives?”, “Did my decisions put me where I am? Or is everything that’s happening merely coincidence?” 

A new beginning

These questions felt like a ray of light entering my room.  I picked up a self-help book that I had superficially read a long time ago and which was collecting dust in my room.  This was the new beginning of my new life.

After three years of researching and fighting against negative thoughts (or demons), I finally overcame my depression.  I found the answers to all my questions.

These days, I study psychology in college and do my own research as well.  Many people believe that depression is a genetic disease or can be caused by altitude.  Others know that depression is a state of mind, that it’s under our control and we can manipulate it.

Have control over your depression

I choose to have control over depression.  I know that I’m not mentally lazy, and I’m not going to let other people or events control my life and thoughts.  Genetics is only a suggestion for me.

I learned that we enter into state of depression when we lose someone or something valuable.  This can range from a loved one or pet to a part of our body or sensation to material things such as our house or money.

Sometimes even our status in society can lead  us into depression:  We can lose our jobs, get demoted or lose our fame or popularity.  Also depression can be triggered when we lose control of our surroundings or things that can affect us.

Control your thoughts to overcome depression

The truth is we can’t control our surroundings directly, but we can control their impact by controlling our thoughts.

There are many steps I followed to overcome depression.  One of them was talking to God.  That is how Mother Teresa describes it, but Buddhism refers to it as a “connecting with the universe.”

When I was depressed, all I wanted was not to suffer any more over my loss.  I was drinking and listening to sad music.  While it made me feel good for the moment, those behaviors were like drinking sea water when thirsty:  It actually makes the problem worse and soon will kill me.  The human mind can be deceived when we are not consciously aware.

The affect music has on our minds

Things went on like this for three months until the night I decided to change my life and make conscious decisions.

I learned that our minds respond to what we are listening to.  For example, the more sad music we listen to, the more sad we feel.  Nevertheless, our mind and heart enjoy such music.

I have noticed when I listen to sad music, I get depressed, and people who are depressed listen to sad music.

Nevertheless, sad music is not a bad influence in ours lives.

There are five stages of grief. These are the stages that we go through when we lose something or someone that is very meaningful for us:

Denial

We don’t know if it’s real.  Sometimes we even ignore it.  We start contemplating all the details about how it happened and why it happened.  Sometimes we look for someone or something to blame.

Anger

We are angry with the world, God, people, events, life and whoever orwhatever we think is guilty for the results.  Many musicians create songs based on this emotion and express their anger through music.

This is the reason we empathize with many of them and listen to their music.  It helps us to understand this stage, but if we want to heal, we need to get to the next stage, which is…

Bargaining

We ask for forgiveness from people, the Universe and ourselves.  We accept our mistakes and we are willing to make our lives better and not make the same mistakes any more.

However, we are looking to go back in time and change the event.  Our hope is to restitute our lost.  What we need is to come to terms with the loss.

Depression

We have an internal battle.  Having overcome the three past stages does not mean that we are going to climb out of the five stages.  Many of us make wrong decisions and unconsciously go back to the denial stage.

Or many of us stay here since we “enjoy” depression:  We like to feel victimized.  Many people have created the best art in their lives in this stage, including musicians.  Here is where we love listening to sad music.

Listening to sad music when we are in this stage can help us.  When we listen to sad music we feel that someone understands our pain.  The words resonate with our event, thoughts and life; we feel empathy.

We also feel less alone in the world.  Nevertheless, if we want to heal, just as in the anger stage, we need to become mentally strong and get to…

Acceptance

We discover that there’s no one to blame and that things happen the way they’re supposed to happen.  We learn to live with the loss and leave the past in the past.  We understand that thanks to the loss, we become a stronger, better person and have learned something because of it.  That without that specific event, we could not become better.

Personally, after my loss, I started to empathize with people.  I understood that I was made to serve others and make this a better world.  I started listening to people and not judge them anymore.  That specific loss made me stronger and now little things that used to bother me are easier to overcome.

Thanks to my loss, I have found real happiness and I’m doing my bit to  make this world a better place.  My success is thanks to my loss.

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Meditation and Weight Loss – Body, Soul and Spirit

It has been more than five years since I acquired the habit of hiking.

Hiking has helped me mentally – it is a way of meditating.

While hiking contributes to my fitness, it does not replace my exercise. My exercise time is when I’m at CBF lifting weights. Any other outdoor activity is part of my meditation.

Meditation and weight loss are very related.

Any outside activity not only contributes positively to my fitness, but it also keeps my mind healthy.

Running has been a big part of my life. However, after I dislocated my knee, completely sprained three ligaments – anterior and posterior cruciate and medial collateral – and fractured my meniscus, I stopped running for almost five years because of the consequences of the high impact on my knee. After two surgeries and time, my knee feels better – now I’ve decided to run again.

There is something magical about doing outside activities alone.

The mind asks some deep questions about reality and truth, and these questions lead to deep research and finding answers.

Last Tuesday, while I was running (after the first five minutes of difficulty – warmup), I asked myself who I am and why I advocate a healthy lifestyle. I thought about my body and the ability that I have to run and feel good – I know I have no limitations.

Since I have a high quality of life, I want everyone to have the same. And that answer led to other questions… Why do I enjoy a high quality of life? Because of who I am.

I’m my body, I’m my soul (mind and heart), I’m my spirit.

I’m a tri-dimensional being.

My thoughts and research make me understand that maintaining all my dimensional areas is what keeps me healthy and having a high quality of life. Any dimensional area can corrupt the other areas if I do not maintain it.

There are many ways to corrupt the body.

One example is through addiction. We can become addicted to any substance or behavior. Not all behaviors are good even though they are recommended. For many behaviors balance is the key.

Here is an example: an anorexic who has her mind corrupted will exercise excessively to the point that it is not beneficial for her anymore. The addiction started in her mind. She thinks she needs to stay thin, and the more she exercises the skinnier she will get. She is afraid of gaining weight for many reasons.

Just like this example, many people practice destructive behaviors that have become addictions. Our bodies end up paying the consequences. Drinks,refined sugars and other things can also be addictive. This can lead the person to gain weight. The problem is not only the behavior but the way our minds are set up to respond to them.

There is a connection between the human mind and behaviors.

Humans behave according to their mind and spirit. The spirit is who we are, our essential personality. However, the mind is molded according to society and the beliefs someone has created in us.

When we let society lead our mind by leading our thoughts, it starts controlling us and the mind gets corrupted. Our decisions are now made by society, not ourselves.

When we take our time to meditate (do outside activities alone, with no distractions) we can touch our spirit and find out exactly who we are.

Meditation has a lot to do with weight loss.

Meditation allows our spirit to connect with a High Power which helps us make wiser decisions about who we are. These wiser decisions help us stop the unconscious negative and addictive behaviors that we have developed over the years.

These are the requirements for outdoor, active meditation. The more silent the place is, the more ideas come to my head; I can solve my mental problems and feel peace. I leave my cellphone in my car. No ear phones, no company (except my dogs), only my thoughts and I.

Mother Teresa said: “In the silence of the heart God speaks. If you face God in prayer and silence, God will speak to you”.

Food and exercise are not the only factors needed for weight loss. The mind and spirit do play a tremendous role in weight loss; not only in any weight loss, but in healthy and long-life weight loss.

I do my five days of exercise (weight lifting). I add three to four days of outside activities to improve my fitness, but the reality is that I do outside activities to meditate and find my whole self.

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