The Voices In My Head

To all appearances, Eleanor Longden was just like every other student, heading to college full of promise and without a care in the world. Then one day as she was leaving a seminar she heard a voice in her head for the first time. “She’s leaving!” It said. The voice had arrived and her nightmare began. Soon she was diagnosed with Schizophrenia, hospitalized, drugged, and discarded. She began to believe that the voice in her head was the problem and she began to fight them. The problem only grew worse and the number of voices multiplied.

It was only with the support of her mother and a few supportive doctors who expressed confidence in her ability to recover that Eleanor began her journey to recovery. A key insight was accepting that the voices were a meaningful response to traumatic life events. The voices were not her enemies, but a source of insight into solvable emotional problems. Soon she was able to get off medication and complete her college education. She has now gone on to complete her Masters in psychology and is working towards her PhD.

In many ways Eleanor is the face of the over-medicalization of mental illness. Psychiatry in recent decades increasingly views mental illness through the lens of brain chemistry. Consequently most treatment is reduced to pushing medication. Eleanor on the other hand is advocating a new approach that goes from asking, “What’s wrong with you?” to “What’s happened to you?”

She is now advocating for people who hear voices in their head and directs them to where they can find help and support. Please pass this along as there are millions of people who suffer from this.

Intervoice: The International Community for Hearing Vocies
Hearing voices: Coping Strategies
Treating the diagnosis rather than the individual
Concern against DSM-5

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On Finding Our Truth: Four watch-outs

Finding Truth

Yoga is about reaching a conscious state where the ego-self is dissolved and a union with a deeper state of oneness is achieved. This is supposed to lead us to the Truth with the capital “T”. Millions of yogis spend their lives in pursuit of this Truth. Even those who are not yogis spend obsessive amount of time in search of truth with a smaller “t”. We gossip endlessly to find out who is saying what about whom. We fixate on the news to find out what is happening where. Scientists and academics write papers proclaiming new truths in their field. Companies spend millions trying to find out more truths about their customers and products. Religious wars are fought to stake ownership on Truth.

It seems our societies and our lives are shaped by the churning caused by our obsession with truth. So here are four pitfalls to avoid:

1. Do not use truth as a weapon

Ahimsa (non-violence) and Satya (truth/honesty) are two values that are highly regarded in Yoga. However Ahimsa is higher than Satya. This means that if by speaking the truth you are likely to cause harm, then you should stay silent. Under no circumstance must you use truth as a cudgel to beat someone with. Unnecessarily speaking ill of someone behind their back, even if true, is to be avoided. The value of truth and honesty is really meant to be applied to oneself rather than others:

Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.” – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

2. Do not think of truth as something definitive

The remarkable thing is that two different observers of the same event will usually have widely different accounts of what happened. This is because of the following reasons:

  • Our perception is colored by our biases.
  • In addition we may have errors in perception.
  • And finally our memory may trick us and we may have errors in recalling what we saw.

This means that what we think of as truth is an interpretation that exists in our head. It is just a story we believe in. Others may believe something entirely different to be true.

There are no facts, only interpretations.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

3. Do not assume that you “know it all”

Humility is a key value when it comes to truth. Even when we become experts in our field and know more than most around us, this is no reason to assume a position of excessive pride. If we maintain a posture of humility, we then find that the more we know, the more we find unknown. Learning and growth never stops and our expertise keeps growing.

A true genius admits that he/she knows nothing.” – Albert Einstein

4. Do not lose hope that Truth is unreachable

The Truth that spiritual people, mystics, and Yogis seek is beyond space and time. The lucky few who have glimpsed it find impossible to speak about it. So is Truth unknowable and unreachable? It is easy to get despondent and look for crutches. A rigidly dogmatic view of Religion may be one result. But this is not what Yoga is about. Yoga is about finding the Truth yourself without crutches. Though it may seem difficult, it is possible to make rapid progress in the direction of Truth. A key thing to keep in mind is that no progress, however small, is ever wasted. The journey towards Truth is inevitable, but it can be hastened when we avoid the pitfalls as highlighted in this article and follow the path laid down by realized Yogis past and present.

Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.” – Henry David Thoreau

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Credits:This has been written by Raj Shah and edited by Ketna Shah.

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Lets Go Nuts! Seven Things To Know

Lets Go Nuts

Multiple studies have shown the benefits of eating tree nuts. Here are seven things to know:

1. Decreased blood sugar levels

Eating nuts has been linked to a lowering of blood sugar levels in those with type 2 Diabetes. It has also been linked to lowering complications arising from type 2 Diabetes.

2. Lower bad cholesterol levels

Nuts have also been shown to lower bad cholesterol levels. This means that daily intake of nuts could reduce chance of heart attack and stroke.

3. Reduced cancer and all causes mortality

There have been studies that have linked consumption of nuts to reduction in cancer and mortality from all causes. A study found mortality reduction by an astounding 39% over a period of 4 years.

4. Get vital nutrients

Almonds can provide you with Calcium and vitamin E. Walnuts will provide you with anti-oxidants and Omega 3 fats. Pistachios are rich in vitamin B6, which is important to keep hormones in balance (could be useful for those experiencing period problems). Pistachios also have lutein and zeaxanthin. These play important role in protecting eyes. Pecans are rich with plant sterols. These are compounds that lower cholesterol levels. Pecans are a great source of vitamin B3, anti-oxidants, and oleic acid. If you are looking for minerals, Brazil nuts can provide you with Selenium, while Cashews provide iron and zinc.

5. Watch for allergies

Some people have visible allergies to nuts. Others have hidden allergies. So if you are starting out for the first time on incorporating nuts in your diet start slow with a very small portion size and increase it gradually over weeks. If you get an allergic or inflammatory response you may have to avoid nuts or reduce portion size.

6. Un-roasted and unsalted are the best

Consume your nuts raw. It is best to avoid roasted and/or salted nuts. Avoid nut butters as you may overdo the portion size. Most studies on benefits of nuts have used raw nuts. If you wish to include almonds in your diet then it may be best to soak them overnight.

7. What to consume

It is best to restrict daily nut consumption to 1 to 1.5 ounces per day. The best nut with most studies showing its benefits is Walnut. Another great nut is Almond and so also is Pecan. Make sure you have these daily. Since some nuts like Cashews, Brazil nuts, and Macadamia are rich in saturated fats, you want to include them in your diet no more than once a week and in small portion sizes of just a few pieces.

Nuts are delicious and healthy and that is a rare combination. So why not make the most of it?

You may also like: Are Fruits The Healthy Choice?

Credits:This has been written by Raj Shah and edited by Ketna Shah.

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The Art Of Failure

A great soccer player knows how to take a tumble. Similarly a successful person knows how to fail. This short must-watch video shows us how to reduce the pain of failure. If you learn the art of failure then the doors of success are opened. Please watch and click on like to share it with your friends.

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The Body-Mind Connection: Three Things To Know

Body Mind Connection

There is a lot written about the “mind-body” connection. But little, if anything, is spoken about the “body-mind” connection. Here are three things to know:

1. Its not just mind-body

In the 1970s Dr. Herbert Benson of the Harvard Medical School discovered something strange. He found that as little as 20 minutes of meditation sets up a response in the body that reverses its stress and relaxes it. He called this the “Relaxation Response”. This was the discovery of the “mind-body” connection. Since then there has been much research done on this subject and the “mind-body” connection is now accepted as a fact. But it is not just the mind that has an effect on the body. The connection works in both directions. The body also has a strong impact on the mind.

2. Foundation of many limbs of yoga

In fact the body-mind connection is at the heart of many limbs of yoga. We must first understand that yoga is the state of mind when all thoughts are brought to rest. Such states are usually achieved via meditation, and hence yoga is primarily about meditation. So why do we need anything else besides meditation? The reason is that to calm down the mind we must also calm down the body. This is the body-mind connection. This means that the primary reason for asana practice, within the context of yoga, is to calm the mind down so that it becomes easier to meditate. The same goes for Pranayama (The practice of controlling the breath). This is also done with the primary goal to calm the mind down.

3. Virtuous cycle

The fact that the connection between the mind and the body works in both directions allows us to set up a virtuous cycle. This is a self reinforcing cycle and leads to positive results. This means that a calm mind de-stresses the body. And a de-stressed body allows the mind to further quiet down. A “virtuous cycle” is put into place, and if this is taken to its logical conclusion the end result is a mind that is completely quiet and in a state of yoga. This is why the limbs of yoga are not considered as sequential steps. They are instead called “limbs” because like the branches of a tree they all grow simultaneously and the growth of one reinforces the growth in others.

So what is the key take away? The key lesson is that instead of just practicing only yoga postures, we must also practice breathing exercises and meditation (along with other limbs of yoga) to set up a virtuous cycle. If you experience benefits from doing yoga postures, you will find that these multiply many fold if other limbs of yoga are also practiced simultaneously.

You may also like: Why You Are Not Trapped By Your Genes

Credits:This has been written by Raj Shah and edited by Ketna Shah.

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