1. There are three attributes that have proven throughout history to be imperative for those trying to be the best they can be. These are:
i) To become detached from the ‘good opinion’ of others
ii) Not to focus exclusively on outcome
iii) To have no desire to control others
Those who are detached from the good opinion of others have the courage to listen to their own hearts and dance to its beat. This does not mean they are unable or unwilling to listen but if what they are hearing does not resonate with their own experience and understanding, they are not afraid to walk alone.
Those trying to be the best they can be realise the journey is as important as the destination. They know that as long as they are doing what’s right, in line with their own conscience and experience, then ‘right action’ will illuminate their path, taking them to their desired destination.
Those who relinquish the desire to control others do not get entangled in the web of envy and jealousy, or become responsible for another person’s destiny. They are busy focusing on their own journey and do not waste time obsessing about others in the wrong way. Instead, they make it their mission to help those that they meet listen to their own hearts because they know it is by doing this that true happiness and peace will be found.
2. We are all part of the unified field (the four forces that construct the physical universe) and to realise our potential we need to understand that our energy, our consciousness impacts on others, the physical world and our own bodies. We are not victims to the universal forces – we are powerful forces ourselves. The trick is to harness the power we possess. Albert Einstein in 1935 first coined the phrase ‘spooky action at a distance’. Since then, the power and role of consciousness and how it relates to matter, have been the subject of much scientific research (see: Noetic Sciences). What has become clear is how our intentions impact on outcomes. In other words what you think and what you focus on really matters. You can alter the destiny of life events by using your greatest resource (your mind) to become the artist you are – creating your own masterpieces in the process. So, work out what you really want, write it down or create a vision board, and then obsessively focus on it. This is how you can become the master of your destiny.
3. The great Sufi poet, Rumi, said, ‘what strange beings we are, whilst sitting in hell, at the bottom of the dark, we’re afraid of our own immortality’. In so much of his poetry, he describes the contradiction of the human spirit. On the one hand we’re told we’re frail and powerless beings, who live in a world where things just happen for no apparent reason and on the other hand our most ancient and cherished spiritual traditions tell us there’s a force that lives within each one of us that has the power to survive the darkest moments in life. Kahlil Gibran, the Lebonese philosopher and poet, in his classic book The Prophet (1923), also speaks of this contradiction. He suggests that we have the great gift and the power already lying dormant within us. He states ‘no man can reveal to you aught than that which already lies half asleep in the dawning of your knowledge’. So which is it? Are we hopelessly fragile victims of events that are beyond our control, or are we powerful creators, harbouring unimaginable abilities that we’re only just beginning to understand? The answer is both. According to the choices we make we can be the master of our destiny or its slave. The universe is dancing to our tune. It’s mirroring back the expressions of our thoughts, feelings and actions. The more we stand in a position of clarity about who we are and where we’re going, the more we can mould our lives to reflect the paradise we seek.
4. High tech brain-imaging scans (MRI) have been used to help patients ‘wish away’ chronic pain. Trials have been conducted in conjunction with Stanford University and Dr. Jon Hawkinson led this research. The pilot study allowed patients to see where the pain was coming from (using the MRI scan) and then watch as their own positive thoughts drove it away. The results thus far have shown a 64% reduction in pain. Chronic pain is often unresponsive to conventional treatments such as painkillers but an increasing number of studies have shown it is possible to ‘think away’ some chronic pain, or at least distract oneself from it. This new treatment plan used the MRI scans to monitor blood flow in the brain. This identified activity levels in the area involved with pain. Patients were then given special goggles similar to those used in virtual reality computer games, which showed this area of activity, represented by the image of a burning flame – the greater the pain, the greater the blood flow and the bigger the flame. Patients were then taught to reduce the size of the flame e.g. visualising the flame being put out with a bucket of water. The theory was that once the patient saw their thinking reducing the size of the flame, they would in turn learn to control their pain without having to see the flame. This research clearly shows that we are able to manage or transcend pain with the power of positive thought and helping patients to see that, strengthens their belief in their own ability to do so.
5. A group of scientists at the Medical School of Turin University carried out an unprecedented study looking at the power of belief to heal, in a medical setting. They began by administering drugs that mimicked the effect of dopamine (a neurotransmitter) that relieved the patients’ symptoms. These drugs had a short lifespan in the body, lasting only about an hour, so as they wore off the symptoms would return. 24 hours later, the patients underwent a medical procedure where they ‘believed’ they were receiving a substance, which would restore their brain chemistry to normal levels. In reality they were simply given a saline solution that should have had no effect on their condition at all. Following the electronic scans of the patients’ brains what was seen was quite remarkable. Their brain cells had responded to the procedure as if they had been given the drug that originally eased their symptoms. Fabrizio Benedetti, the team leader of the study, stated it was the first time that he’d seen such an effect at the neuron level. This research supported similar studies that had been conducted at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. These investigations showed that placebos could actually raise the brain’s levels of dopamine. It’s interesting to note that in 1864 William James MD, who is best known in America as the Father of Psychology, wrote in an article that he was in little doubt that the real power of healing was less about procedures and more about the way doctors help their patients to feel about themselves.
6. Procrastination is bad for your health. One who continually defers ‘doing’ becomes like a stagnant body of water. Life is about movement. The more we are clear about where we are going and embark on that journey the more satisfaction will accrue in our lives. King Solomon wrote in Proverbs, ‘Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is the tree of life’. When you keep putting off what needs to be done your emotional energy, motivation and even physical strength begin to wane. So too your creativity and inspiration falter and before you know it you are that stagnant pool of water – a mind inadvertently working against itself. This is why it is crucial to have a vision, to invest your life with meaning and purpose. Whatever else you do, don’t remain sitting on the fence.
7. Forgiveness is good for your soul. Even though forgiving others undoubtedly can have a positive effect on them, the truth is forgiveness heals the forgiver most of all. It is not for us to tell anyone to forgive. This has to be a personal choice because one cannot feign forgiveness: it has to come from the heart. Why a lack of forgiveness is so damaging is that it often keeps the individual ‘nailed’ to the very spot they are striving to be free of. This can lead to the continued build up of anger, pain, even hatred. These emotions lead to the release of unhelpful hormones, which can alter our biochemistry and even poison our brains and bodies. Forgiveness on the other hand doesn’t forget but it does wipe the slate clean allowing for a fresh start. That ‘space’ which was occupied by the pain, hurt, anger or maybe fear makes room for new and unchartered experiences as the old and familiar ones are replaced. So start by forgiving yourself for your mistakes – as this is very cathartic and healing – and then if you can progress to forgiving those who have hurt your heart.
8. William James, the nineteenth century psychologist and philosopher also said, ‘if you want a quality in your life, act as if you already have it. If you want a trait, act as if it is already yours’. The poet William Blake also recognised imagination could be the architect for our dreams and rather than mindlessly daydreaming we should actively daydream – seeing ourselves already where we want to be. The best way to do this is to ‘assume the feeling’ of our heart’s desire, our dream, goal – that unanswered prayer. This practice alone is a wonderful tonic for the mind as it transports us to that place of magic and possibility and increases the prospect of our heart’s desire becoming reality. It also nourishes the body with oxytocin, serotonin, dopamine and other healing hormones. We each hold the power to influence how matter behaves and how reality unfolds simply by the way we perceive the world around us – so act ‘as if’ and you’ll be surprised at how life conspires to assist you.
9. Stress can be a positive force in our lives or it can drastically diminish them. We need to form a healthier relationship with it and introspective practices are a wonderful way of achieving this. The Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) axis is designed to protect us from threats (real or imagined). When we perceive something to be stressful or a threat the hypothalamus excretes a hormone (CRF), which travels to the pituitary gland. This hormone activates special pituitary hormone-secreting cells causing them to release another hormone (ACTH) into the blood. The ACTH then makes its way to the adrenal glands, switching on the ‘fight-flight’ adrenal hormones. The HPA mechanism is an excellent line of defence – however it’s not designed to be continually activated. The way most of us live now means this mechanism is almost always switched on, making us greater candidates for the stress that causes major illnesses. So we all need to find time to switch off – go for long walks in nature, listen to music that moves you, practise conscious breathing and relaxing your body in other ways. Learn to meditate, listen to and watch things that make you laugh. Time out in this way will bring enormous relief and restore balance.
10. Hundreds of scientific studies over the last 50 years have consistently revealed that the ‘invisible forces’ on the electromagnetic spectrum profoundly impact every aspect of our biology. These include energies such as radio frequencies, the visible light spectrum, microwaves and acoustic frequencies to name a few. The impact of these energies is far-reaching as they affect protein shape and function, cell division, hormone secretion, nerve growth function and much more. What’s really interesting is realising that these largely invisible forces with their immense power and influence are dwarfed by the power of another invisible force…. our thoughts. Although we are unable to completely immunise ourselves from these invisible energies, we can mitigate against them by developing a positive mental attitude – eating a rainbow diet, getting enough sleep for our needs, ensuring we are fully hydrated, creating a set of non-negotiables which we honour and live by. In other words, aligning our decisions, choices and lifestyle to The Story of Health.
Also see: Body-wise