Saturday, July 23, 2016

Daily Inspirational Quote for July 23, 2016

“You are not a drop in the ocean, you are an entire ocean in a drop.”

I know there are times when I feel insignificant, perhaps due to unforeseen events or the actions or words of other people. I guess we all do at some time or another. That we don’t matter or figure in the grand scheme of things and that everybody else on the plant does. Sound familiar? I thought so. However, try looking at yourself another way. YOU are a vessel filled with dreams, hope, energy, feelings, etc. all crammed into one special human being. There is NOBODY else like YOU on the entire planet! You are a unique being. A “one off” among men (and women!). How great is that? How reassuring! Try remembering this the next time you’re beginning to feel insignificant. YOU? Insignificant? Really? Never!!

by CathiBew.co.uk

Why We Need To Cultivate Awe In The Workplace

--by Homaira Kabir

There’s a profound feeling that shifts us outside the box of the routine and familiar and opens us to something much larger than ourselves writes Homaira Kabir. We’ve all felt it – the goose bumps on our arms when standing below towering Eucalyptus trees or the expansive feeling in our chests when watching the sun slowly set in the horizon.

Researchers define it as the emotion of awe. Like most positive emotions, it boosts physical health and inspires altruistic action. And yet, awe is more – because it recruits both motivations of the paradoxical human brain. It gives rise to a feeling of fear that is initiated in the more primitive parts of the brain. But it also opens us up to belonging to something much larger than the self, the most human of all needs. It is this whole brain functioning that is so essential for optimal performance, both in our personal lives and at work.

The Reality of the 21st Century Workplace

Most workplaces today function on the quick-fix, efficiency model of the industrial revolution that stands in direct contrast to awe-cultivation. It may have worked in an era when workers clocked in the necessary hours in order to live life after work. But in an age of evolving consciousness and where change, uncertainty and competition are the norm, we’re overworked, unhappy, and disengaged. Somewhere on the journey to progress, we seem to have lost our soul.

Why Awe May Be the Answer

Awe jars us out of our usual way of seeing things. But instead of making us resist change, it opens us up to the passing nature of life and to our integral, albeit tiny place in a much larger whole. We see our fragility and vulnerability, which gives us a profound sense of humility. But we also appreciate the vastness of experience, and the desire to leave something of ourselves behind in the world.

What Leaders Can Do to Cultivate It

Employees who are aware of their role in the organization and driven to do their best to fulfill it are the “awe-struck” ones who can focus on what is important by connecting it to a larger purpose. Even though these capabilities lie in two separate hemispheres in our brains, we as humans are uniquely equipped to harness both at the same time. As leaders, we would do well to nurture this capacity.

A daily practice of mindfulness develops the awareness to break through the safety of routine and the hammer wheel of emotions in order to experience a much larger sense of being alive.

mentor who has the potential to experience both the anxiety and the thrill of extending themselves beyond their comfort zone can help employees discover more of who they are and thus rise to their true potential.

Visits to museums and operas are great ways to be moved by something powerful. Organisations that encourage employees to get in touch with the wholeness of their being help them bring their full selves to work.

Organizations that take volunteering and “doing good” seriously answer an inherent human need to find meaning. Employees who can appreciate the positive effect of their work are intrinsically driven to do more.

Connecting with nature is one of the best ways of belonging to something larger and of being reminded of the impermanence of life. It kindles the responsibility we carry towards it – something that is often forgotten in the daily churn of deadlines.

Tapping into an awe-based consciousness has profound implications for the way we live our lives. Instead of confining it to the spiritual realm, leaders would do well to nurture its daunting and exalting qualities in the workplace. But as Kirk Schneider, author of Awakening to Awe points out, it’s not a tool we can use at will. It’s at best a way of being – perhaps closer to the Taoist concept of wu-wei (pronounced ooo-way) – translated as “trying not to try”.

An enigma as paradoxical as the human brain.

 

Friday, July 22, 2016

Daily Inspirational Quote for July 22, 2016

“To dream by night is to escape your life. To dream by day is to make it happen.”

I usually have very vivid dreams. You know the kind that, when you wake up, you can remember perhaps not all of it, but certain bits and don’t they feel real? I have given up trying to find meanings in most of them although some are obviously born from what I’ve read or watched on TV previously. In fact, when I think about it, dreams are like programs appearing on the screen of our sleeping mind. We are at the mercy of our very own, personal, unique show. On the other hand, our daytime dreams can only play out for us if WE take the time, energy and commitment to make them reality. We are the Producers and Directors solely responsible for bringing our dreams into being. Scene 1…….

by CathiBew.co.uk

Letting Love Come In: Lessons from a Nursing Home

"Two and a half years ago my grandmother was placed in a nursing home where she will live out the rest of her life. She has dementia and so her memory capacity has been marred. Somehow though she remembers kindness. She is my constant teacher. One of things we like to do is walk down the halls in the nursing facility saying hello to the other residents...When I go to the nursing facility, it is like going to the village. I do not know the individuals histories but I have a sense of their spirits now and I have come to care for them. In that context, I would like to share a story of my time with my grandmother and some of these elders that I have come to think of as my relatives too in a way."...

http://www.dailygood.org/story/1340/letting-love-come-in-mia-tagano/

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Daily Inspirational Quote for July 21, 2016

“When you do what you fear most, then you can do anything.”

Fear makes us prisoners of us. It prevents us from doing the things we want to, perhaps even preventing our dreams from becoming reality, because we ourselves allow it power over us. Why not give it a “bloody nose” by taking your power back? Go on, gather all your courage, believe in YOU, and do what you fear the most. You’ll find that nothing terrible happened but that, actually, you feel great and experience a wonderful sense of “release” because that old bogeyman “Fear” has been banished forever. YOU, have given yourself the great gift of a fear free life apart, of course, when fear works in your favor and prevents you from doing something really dangerous, then its ok!

by CathiBew.co.uk

Former Dress Shop Owner Feeds Thousands Through Gardening

What started out as a simple gardening project for a grad student has now grown into a multitude of flourishing gardens, and a community coming together. This is the story of how the Randolph Street Community Garden came to give nearly 2,000 people access to fresh fruits, and vegetables and become a place where food, fun, and friendships grow.

http://encore.org/purpose-prize/dawn-m-blackman-sr/

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

How to Save Your Marriage from Parenthood

By Amie M. Gordon

Amie Gordon offers five tips to maintain (or reignite) the spark in your relationship.



I became a parent a year and a half ago, and my life changed forever.
When I was pregnant, lots of parents gave me advice (Enjoy going to the grocery store by yourself while you still can! Go out on dates! Clean your house!). One even warned me that becoming a parent would “rock my world.” I thought I understood. I thought I was prepared for the huge change coming. And while I wasn’t unprepared, I really had no idea exactly how life-changing becoming a parent would be.
Now I try to explain to my friends who don’t have children what exactly getting swept into parenthood felt like, and the best I have come up with is this—I had my daughter and she was more wonderful than I could have imagined, and the rest of my life fell into chaos. One of those pieces of my life was my relationship with my husband.
We look at each other and marvel that we used to sit around on the weekend and lament that we did not know what to do with ourselves. Now we would give anything to learn the secret to freezing time. Now we try to hold on as life rushes by. Now I tell my husband we need more time and he agrees but asks, “what time?”
In just a little over a year and a half, our life before baby is becoming a distant memory. Nights cuddled up on the couch together, lazy weekend mornings, and all-day hikes are a thing of the past. I know they’ll be back someday, but I fear in the meantime we might get used to the “new normal” of having very little time together. I worry that the stress of jobs, long commutes, lack of sleep, and the realities of taking care of a sweet little girl who can’t take care of herself yet will do a number on our relationship, and it might have bent into an unrecognizable shape by the time we again find ourselves able to cuddle up on the couch to watch a movie.
I worry about what parenthood might be doing to our relationship because I have spent the past 12 years studying the psychology of relationships and there are countless articles examining “the decline in marital satisfaction during the transition to parenthood.”
There are disagreements about how bad that decline really is, whether it is worse for men or women, and what helps prevent it. And because researchers can’t randomly assign people to have children or not, we can never have the necessary experimental evidence to definitely say that parenthood is bad for marriage. But studies of couples who were followed from before they had children until years after their first child was born (and compared to couples who did not have children) seem to consistently show that for a sizeable portion of couples, having a child is hard on the relationship.
But these studies also show that this hit to your relationship is not an inevitability. There is always variability and some couples in these studies aren’t in a downward trajectory after having their first child. Of course, we all want to know how to be one of these couples. Some of it is not easy to change—having more financial resources, having a planned pregnancy, and having parents who didn’t divorce have all been suggested as protective factors. And of course, prioritizing your relationship and finding time together as a couple is important. But that is easier said than done.
So regardless of your income level or whether you planned your pregnancy, even for those of you who can’t or don’t want to hire a babysitter for regular date nights, here are a few suggestions for how to maintain (or reignite) the spark in your relationship.

1. Prioritize sleep

Easier said than done. But researchers think that one of the reasons the transition to parenthood might be hard on relationships is because that adorable bundle of joy wreaks havoc on your sleep. When you’re low on sleep, you might find yourself feeling more irritable and hostile and reacting more strongly when something bad happens. And my colleague and I found that couples fought more, and were worse at resolving conflict, if either partner had slept poorly the previous night. Even if you are no longer dealing with nighttime wakings, you might still be suffering from a massive sleep debt. After several days of sleep loss, people report not feeling as tired, but they still perform poorly on mental tasks.
I, of course, am bad at prioritizing sleep—it’s hard to leave the dishes unwashed and the living room strewn with toys and sometimes you just want a little bit of me (or we) time at the end of a long day. But even if you are still waking up at night to care for your little one, there are things you can do to prioritize sleep. For example, try giving yourself a bedtime, don’t take your phone or tablet to bed with you, engage in good sleep hygiene so you’re not tossing and turning all night long, and even consider sleeping in a separate bed from your partner at times if you wake each other up. Think about whether there are ways to divide up the night so that you can both get a bit of consolidated sleep.
The bottom line: Everything is easier and better if you’re facing the day fully rested. You’ll be more efficient, get your work done faster, make fewer mistakes, and have more control over your emotions. So rather than stay up to deal with some household, work, or personal problem, get some sleep and see if that problem isn’t easier to solve in the morning. Oh, and forget the old adage “never go to bed angry.” Instead, try “if you’re angry, say I love you and goodnight, and see if it’s still a problem in the morning.”

2. Give each other the benefit of the doubt

Sleepless nights, a crying baby, and all the other demands of parenthood are added on top of everything you were doing before baby came along. Although a joyous time in so many ways, the transition to parenthood can also be incredibly stressful. Stress makes it difficult to be a loving and present partner.
So when your partner snaps at you, forgets to do something you asked them to do, or just isn’t as loving and affectionate as you’d like, rather than getting angry, trying chalking it up to the fact that, like you, he or she is probably sleep-deprived and stressed. Blaming minor relationship issues on external causes like lack of sleep or baby-induced memory loss can help you keep things in perspective, possibly preventing something small from turning into a big, sleep-deprived fight.
Of course, it’s hard to remember to give the benefit of the doubt, especially if you are running low on sleep, so you could try creating a rule for yourself (called an implementation intention). For example, every time you start to feel annoyed at your partner, you could repeat to yourself, “It’s not him, it’s the lack of sleep,” or something along those lines. You could also try to remember the last time you did something similar and remind yourself that you are both going to make a lot of mistakes during this time.
Of course, if you find yourself facing real relationship issues, it’s not healthy to just shrug them aside; there are things you can do to reduce conflict in your relationship. But it is still important to keep a good perspective.

3. Be appreciative

Little time and lots to do may mean you find yourselves taking each other for granted. Who has time to say thank for making dinner when you’re rushing to get the baby ready for bed? Plus, again, that whole not getting enough sleep thing—I have found in my own research that people tend to be less grateful when they aren’t getting enough sleep. But a little gratitude could go a long way.
Research shows that more grateful people are more satisfied with their relationships, and this might be particularly true during transitional times like having a baby. So little things, like recognizing your partner’s efforts, taking a few moments to feel lucky you get to share this chaotic journey together, or reflecting back on how you felt when you met and then expressing those feelings to your partner, might help keep the spark alive.
And if you start expressing your gratitude, you’ll likely find that your partner is more likely to express his or her gratitude as well. And how good would it feel to receive a heartfelt thanks for all those dinners you’ve made or those diapers changes that you thought went unnoticed?

4. Start a new (not time-intensive) hobby together

Research shows that engaging in novel activities together is good for couples, and this might be particularly true during the transition to parenthood when so much of your time is spent focused on things other than your relationships—especially if you find that your old hobbies don’t work well in your new lifestyle.
Sure, we go on walks pushing our daughter in the stroller, but it’s no longer reasonable for us to take day-long hikes up the mountains each weekend or make pancakes and watch a Psychmarathon on Saturday morning. Nights out at the movies or late-night dinners are also a thing of the past.
Even if you are able to engage in some of your old hobbies together thanks to a babysitter, it still might be worth finding a new hobby the two of you can start together. A new hobby could bring you together, give you something new to talk about, and provide you with a little bit of fun during a time when the majority of your interactions sans children might feel like business meetings.
Of course, I’m not encouraging you to pick up skydiving (maybe after the last kid leaves for college?). Choose something not too time-intensive that you can easily fit into your new lives. If you both like reading, start a book club with just the two of you or take turns reading a chapter to each other before bed at night. Pick up a new game—I played boggle for the first time in years this summer and thought how easy and fun it would be to play 10 minutes of boggle together a few nights a week. Into food? Find a top-10 list for restaurants in your area and commit to trying one every few weeks and work together to plan out what you’ll eat before you go.

5. Commiserate with each other

When things are at their worst, don’t stew in silence. Remember you are in it together. Even if you’re not sleeping, are snappish, and have no time for appreciation or new hobbies, it might help you feel better about your relationship if you take the time to gripe together.
If you know that your partner is also tired and wishes more than anything he or she could run away to a deserted tropical island with you, you might not feel so alone and frustrated. It’s not that your partner doesn’t care, it’s that she is also struggling with getting through her day and forgets to tell you that she cares.
You could even schedule a weekly gripe session—just five minutes on Friday night to sit down and take turns complaining and commiserating with the other person’s woes could help you stay a “we” rather than turn into a “you” and “me.”
Did you have a hard time in your relationship when you became a parent? Did you find any strategies that worked? How old were your kids when you had time together again?

Daily Inspirational Quote for July 20, 2016

“The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.”

I can really relate to this. I love a good laugh. I don’t know anybody who doesn’t and I don’t suppose you do either? I agree with the well known saying that laughter is the best medicine. There have actually been scientific studies that prove that laughter can be very beneficial to people suffering from physical or mental illness. I know it works for me if I’m having a difficult day when things seem to be conspiring to make my day one where I just want to go to bed and hide under the duvet. Being able to find humor in any situation isn’t easy but it pays us to really try, as things tend to not seem so bad if we can don’t you think?

by CathiBew.co.uk

A Tribute to Pakistan's Angel of Mercy

Amidst the violence and chaos of Karachi, there is a ray of hope: Pakistani philanthropist, humanitarian and a man of grit and strength, Abdul Sattar Edhi. Born in 1928 in Bantawa, Gujarat, India, he later migrated to Pakistan in 1947. From a very young age his mother taught him to be kind towards others. Each day, she would give him two paisa - one to spend on himself, and one on someone less fortunate. Started with a mere Rs.5000 (approximately $55.56) the Edhi Foundation runs the world's largest ambulance service and operates free nursing homes, orphanages, clinics, women shelters, rehab centers for drug addicts and mentally ill individuals, to name a few of the many services. One of the most trusted men in Pakistan, Edhi's Foundation has modified the phrase "Live and Let Live" to "Live and Help Live." Postscript: Abdul Sattar Edhi passed away on 8 July 2016, after a long illness, at the age of 88. Edhi was given a state funeral, but buried in the clothes he died in, and buried in the Edhi Cemetary in the outskirts of Karachi in a grave he dug himself several years earlier - true to his ascetic lifestyle even in death.

http://www.karmatube.org/videos.php?id=3379

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Why You’re Not Meeting Your Exercise Goals

By Kira M. Newman

According to a new study, mindfulness may be the key to motivation.




When it comes to exercise, many of us are full of good intentions but not much action. I’ve been meaning to go to the gym, we tell our friends, and their heads nod in understanding.
We accept this state of affairs as normal, but maybe we shouldn’t. If we can’t get ourselves to do something like exercise, which is pretty much unequivocally beneficial—to our health, no less—what hope do we have in motivating ourselves toward more complex goals and aspirations?
Past research has linked mindfulness to better health, so a group of researchers set out to investigate whether mindfulness might play a role in the interplay between feeling motivated to exercise and actually getting up and doing it. And, indeed, they found that the more mindful we are, the more likely we are to translate motivation for physical activity into action.
In their study, published recently in Mindfulness, researchers asked a group of 244 French students about their levels of mindfulness—moment-by-moment, nonjudgmental awareness of thoughts and feelings—in daily life. The researchers also asked why they were motivated to exercise (if at all) and how physically active they were over the past week.
In particular, they focused on intrinsic motivation. People who are self-motivated to exercise are more likely to find it fun and satisfying, rather than (for example) feeling pressured by a family member or guilty for skipping a session.
For less mindful participants, the intrinsic motivation to exercise wasn’t at all linked to higher physical activity. Even those who think sweating it out at the gym is fun weren’t exercising more than the rest of the group if they were also low in mindfulness. But as mindfulness increased, that link between motivation and physical activity became stronger and stronger. Mindfulness seemed to be activating participants’ intentions, and helping translate them into action.
What if you aren’t one of those people who finds exercise pleasurable? (Who are those people, anyway?) Many of us are somewhat less enthusiastic about physical activity, but still acknowledge it to be important and beneficial—a slightly different type of motivation. Can mindfulness still help us?
The researchers can’t say for certain—they didn’t analyze this in the study—but here’s how it might work: Mindfulness involves heightened attention and awareness, which can take us off of autopilot (where we loaf around and watch TV every night rather than taking a brisk walk, for instance). Mindfulness also involves acceptance, which could buffer against feelings of failure related to exercise (Why should I start now? I’m way out of shape). Mindfulness might help would-be exercisers acknowledge their doubts and insecurities, but still be open to opportunities for change.
Future research may dig into these exact mechanisms, and also look at motivation and mindfulness in other domains. Could all of our latent intentions—to eat healthy, control our temper, or stay in better touch with friends—be activated with a bit of mindfulness? Perhaps so.
Now, all we have to do is motivate ourselves to practice mindfulness in the first place.

Daily Inspirational Quote for July 19, 2016

“You are always free to change your mind and choose a different future, or a different past.”

I wasn’t sure what this meant at first. I could relate to choosing a different future but a different past, really? I believe you are NEVER too old to choose a different future to the one you perhaps planned when you were much younger. Life tends to change and shape us in ways we never expected or planned for. There is nothing stopping us responding to these changes by adapting and putting into practice new plans or ideas. However, when it comes to choosing a different past……. I don’t think this is so much about choosing a different past but instead learning from the past and allowing the lessons it has taught us to enhance our future. This is our choice so we need to use it wisely.

by CathiBew.co.uk

Three Steps to Living a Life of Gratefulness

--by Brother David Steindl-Rast

An act of gratitude is a living whole. To superimpose on its organic flow a mental grid like a series of “steps” will always be somewhat arbitrary. And yet, for the sake of practice, such a delineation can be helpful.
 
In any process, we can distinguish a beginning, a middle, and an end. We may use this basic three-step grid for the practice of gratitude: What happens at the start, in the middle, and at the end, when we experience gratitude? What fails to happen when we are not grateful?

Before going to bed, I glance back over the day and ask myself: Did I stop and allow myself to be surprised? Or, did I trudge on in a daze?

To be awake, aware, and alert are the beginning, middle, and end of gratitude. This gives us the clue to what the three basic steps of practicing gratitude must be.

Step One: Wake Up

To begin with, we never start to be grateful unless we wake up. Wake up to what? To surprise. As long as nothing surprises us, we walk through life in a daze. We need to practice waking up to surprise. I suggest using this simple question as a kind of alarm clock: “Isn’t this surprising?” “Yes, indeed!” will be the correct answer, no matter when and where and under what circumstances you ask this question. After all, isn’t it surprising that there is anything at all, rather than nothing? Ask yourself at least twice a day, “Isn’t this surprising?” and you will soon be more awake to the surprising world in which we live.

Surprise may provide a jolt, enough to wake us up and to stop taking everything for granted. But we may not at all like that surprise. “How can I be grateful for something like this?” we may howl in the midst of a sudden calamity. And why? Because we are not aware of the real gift in this given situation: opportunity.

Step Two: Be Aware of Opportunities

There is a simple question that helps me to practice the second step of gratitude: “What’s my opportunity here?” You will find that most of the time, the opportunity that a given moment offers you is an opportunity to enjoy–to enjoy sounds, smells, tastes, texture, colors, and, with still deeper joy, friendliness, kindness, patience, faithfulness, honesty, and all those gifts that soften the soil of our heart like warm spring rain. The more we practice awareness of the countless opportunities to simply enjoy, the easier it becomes to recognize difficult or painful experiences as opportunities, as gifts.

But while awareness of opportunities inherent in life events and circumstances is the core of gratefulness, awareness alone is not enough. What good is it to be aware of an opportunity, unless we avail ourselves of it? How grateful we are shows itself by the alertness with which we respond to the opportunity.

Step Three: Respond Alertly

Once we are in practice for being awake to surprise and being aware of the opportunity at hand, we will spontaneously be alert in our response, especially when we are offered an opportunity to enjoy something. When a sudden rain shower is no longer just an inconvenience but a surprise gift, you will spontaneously rise to the opportunity for enjoyment. You will enjoy it as much as you did in your kindergarten days, even if you are no longer trying to catch raindrops in your wide-open mouth. Only when the opportunity demands more from you than spontaneous enjoyment will you have to give yourself a bit of an extra push as part of Step Three.

Stop, look, go.

The Review Process It helps me to review my own practice of gratefulness by applying to these three basic steps the rule I learned as a boy for crossing an intersection: “Stop, look, go.” Before going to bed, I glance back over the day and ask myself: Did I stop and allow myself to be surprised? Or did I trudge on in a daze? Was I too busy to wake up to surprise? And once I stopped, did I look for the opportunity of that moment? Or did I allow the circumstances to distract me from the gift within the gift? (This tends to happen when the gift’s wrappings are not attractive.) And finally, was I alert enough to go after it, to avail myself fully of the opportunity offered to me?

There are times, I must admit, when stopping at night to review my day seems to be the first stop on an express train. Then I look back and realize with regret how much I missed. Not only was I less grateful on those non-stop days, I was less alive, somehow numb. Other days may be just as busy, but I do remember to stop; on those days, I even accomplish more because stopping breaks up the routine. But unless I also look, the stopping alone will not make my day a truly happy one; what difference does it make that I am not on an express train but on a local if I’m not aware of the scenery outside the windows? On some days, I even find in my nightly review that I stopped and I looked, but not with alertness. Just yesterday, I found a huge moth on the sidewalk; I did stop long enough to put it in a safe spot on the lawn, just a foot away, but I didn’t crouch down to spend time with this marvelous creature. Only faintly did I remember, at night, those iridescent eyes on the grayish brown wings. My day was diminished by this failure to stay long enough with this surprise gift to deeply look at it and to savor its beauty gratefully.

My simple recipe for a joyful day is this: Stop and wake up; look and be aware of what you see; then go on with all the alertness you can muster for the opportunity the moment offers. Looking back in the evening, on a day on which I made these three steps over and over, is like looking at an apple orchard heavy with fruit.

This recipe for grateful living sounds simple–because it is. But simple does not mean easy. Some of the simplest things are difficult because we have lost our childlike simplicity and have not yet found our mature one. Growth in gratitude is growth in maturity. Growth, of course, is an organic process. And so we come back to what I said at the beginning: To superimpose on the organic flow of gratitude a mental grid like a series of “steps” will remain arbitrary. When I am grateful, I am neither rushing nor slouching through my day–I’m dancing. What is true in dance class is true here too: Only when you forget to think of your steps, do you truly dance.

This essay first appeared on Beliefnet, Summer 2001.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Why Your Office Needs More Nature

By Jill Suttie

According to a recent study, sunlight and natural elements in the workplace may improve workers' moods and job satisfaction.



A recent Gallop poll found that almost a third of American workers are disengaged and unhappy at their jobs. Could a dose of nature give them a boost?
According to a newly published study, workers exposed to sunlight and natural elements in the workplace report better moods, higher satisfaction with their work, and more commitment to their employer—something that Amazon would be happy to hear, as they construct massive greenhouses for employees around their downtown Seattle headquarters.
Spaceo / Wikimedia
Researchers at Central Michigan University surveyed hundreds of workers from the United States and India and asked them about natural elements in their workspace, including views out of windows, office plants, and screensavers or wall prints depicting nature scenes. They also asked how much workers were exposed to direct sunlight (from working outside or being able to go outside during the day) or indirect sunlight (through windows), as well as surveying their levels of depression and anxiety symptoms, job stressors, job satisfaction, and commitment to their employer.
Analyzing the data, the researchers found that people with more exposure to natural elements in the office were less depressed, and more satisfied with and committed to their jobs, than those with less nature around them.
Even stronger links were seen for sunlight exposure. Indirect sunlight in the workplace was associated with reduced depressive symptoms, while direct sunlight was linked to increased job satisfaction and employee loyalty—suggesting, in general, that sunshine may be good for people at work.
Why might views of nature or exposure to sunlight have positive impacts on people at the office?
“There is a pretty large literature on the positive effects of nature and sunshine exposure in other settings,” says one of the study’s authors, Stephen Colarelli, though few studies have looked specifically at offices. “Nature has restorative effects, making people feel better in a variety of ways.”
For example, compared to views of walls or non-natural settings, studies have suggested that nature reduces stress, improves mood and recovery from surgery for hospital patients, and helps kids do better in school and feel more positive about their classroom experiences. Even the presence of plants in a room has been shown to increase kind and helpful behavior and well-being, which could have an indirect impact on work relationships and job satisfaction.
In this study, the results suggest that nature may buffer against the effects of stress: The relationship between job stressors and anxiety was weaker for workers exposed to natural elements, as was the relationship between job stressors and lower job satisfaction. There might be other reasons for this—perhaps workers in higher-level positions have offices with nicer views, as well as improved stress and job satisfaction—but the results held even after controlling for worker age, reducing the plausibility of this explanation.
“[Our] result helps support the notion that it is exposure to nature that is having the effects,” Colarelli says.
He notes that most companies and interior designers pay scant attention to nature and sunlight exposure, or neglect them in order to keep costs down. But, he suggests, if we want to improve well-being at work, we may want to look at environmental factors more closely.
To that end, he and his colleagues are exploring what types of natural views and built environments are most conducive to restorative effects. He’s also working with colleagues to look at the effects of nature views inside a factory environment in China. He hopes studies like these will support more efforts to bring nature into the workplace.
“We evolved in nature, and our species is adapted in many ways to a natural environment,” he says. “People are likely to feel better and experience greater well-being when their environments are in synch (are matched) with their human nature.”

Healing Body and Soul Through Divine Gnosis

by Tau Malachi
(Article originally published in The Llewellyn Journal.)
When we look into the stories told about the life and teachings of Yeshua (Aramaic-Hebrew for "Jesus") we find a very luminous Jewish teacher and mystic, an amazing prophet and wonderworker, and most important of all a holy man who embodies the fullness of the presence and power of God, the Divine—hence, the Messiah, the anointed of God.
In him we see the union of a human being and God—the embodiment of the knowledge of God or enlightenment.
When we look into the many wonders or miracles he performs, more than anything else what we find is the removal of displaced energies, the mending of souls from "spiritual possession," and the healing of illness and disease, the restoration of well-being and harmony on physical, psychic (mental-emotional), and spiritual levels. In fact, according to all accounts he brings about some of the most radical healings, and even brings the dead back to life on a number of occasions, and we may say that he is, perhaps, the greatest healer to have ever walked upon the earth.
If we look into the stories of great adepts and masters, aside from the mystery of the crucifixion and revelation of the resurrection, Yeshua stands out for his active love and compassion in healing works, relieving the sorrow and suffering of the people, and drawing them nearer to God, the Divine.
In orthodox or mainstream forms of Christianity we are taught that Yeshua is the Messiah, the Son of God, who comes for the forgiveness of "sin," the dispelling of negative karma—he comes to make a sacrifice of himself for the remission of sin, the negation of karma that binds souls, so that whosoever believes in him as the Messiah, the Son of God, may be forgiven and set free, receiving eternal life.
There is, indeed, some truth in this—the generation of a sanctuary of grace through which negative patterns in consciousness are dispelled or removed, a release from sorrow and suffering. Yet, from a Gnostic perspective there is something much more essential in the Divine Incarnation—the Messiah is not only the Savior who releases souls from negative karma or sin, but it also the Gnostic Revealer, a teacher of enlightenment or self-realization.
In Gnostic Christianity, in fact, the issue is not so much sin or negative karma, but rather the state of ignorance that leads to the generation of "sin" or negative karma and negative energy. Thus, more than the forgiveness of sin or the dispelling of negative karma, Yeshua Messiah (Aramaic-Hebrew for "Jesus Christ") comes to dispel ignorance (agnosis), imparting spiritual knowledge (gnosis). While faith may be the beginning of our salvation, our enlightenment, and our liberation, spiritual knowledge and the experience of divine illumination is the fruition of our enlightenment and liberation—the knowledge of self, reality, and God through direct spiritual and mystical experience.
According to orthodox or mainstream forms of Christianity the Messiah is the Son of God who comes to save us from sin, and the wonders he performs are to demonstrate that he is, indeed, the Son of God so that we might believe in him and receive our salvation. Gnostic Christianity, however, takes a somewhat different view. In Christian Gnosticism and ChristianKabbalah, the presence and power of the Divine embodied in Yeshua Messiah is within us all, so that beholding the living presence and power embodied in him, the Messiah, our true essence and nature, our true being, is revealed to us—he comes to reveal our true being as we are in God. Likewise, teaching and performing wonders, he reveals our innate unity with the source of our being, God, and he reveals the true nature of the reality of our experience.
In a manner of speaking, from a Gnostic point of view, Yeshua is like a lucid dreamer who enters into the collective dream we call "reality" and the "world" in order to awaken us so that we might also become lucid in the dream. In the play of radical wonderworking he performs, he reveals that we are completely interconnected with the reality of our experience and its source. He also reveals that the reality of our experience is "dream-like," which is to say that it is a radiant or magical display of our own mind, consciousness, or soul.
In Gnostic Christianity and Christian Kabbalah we are taught that God, the Divine, is pure spirit, energy, or light—the one Being-Consciousness-Force—and we are taught that we are all emanations of Divine Being, Divine Consciousness, Divine Force, the "Light of the Infinite," and so is all creation on every level. As such, we are co-creators with God, co-creating the reality of our experience on an individual and a collective level. It is all the radiant or magical display of the one Being-Consciousness-Force, the spirit, energy, or light that we are and God is.
According to Gnostic teachings, Yeshua is the pure emanation of the Light Continuum (Yahweh), the Human One of Light (Messiah); but, then, so also is our soul, our energetic being—we are a person of light who emanates from the Light Continuum, and who, in fact, never depart from it, for all is the emanation of this Holy Light, even our physical body and the physical world.
In this regard it is very interesting what modern science has to say about the material universe and the matter that composes it. According to modern physics it is all energy, the energy of the Big Bang and light of the stars. In explaining the actual nature of matter, one British physicist has said that, in effect, matter is "frozen light:" energy or light in its most dense manifestation.
Basically speaking, modern physics is confirming what mystics and metaphysicians from many different wisdom traditions have been teaching for thousands of years (although most often in a primitive way, failing to recognize the source or cause, the one Being-Consciousness-Force that we call "God," the True Light).
In our essence and nature we are spirit, energy, or light—our soul is, in essence, an energetic or light being, emanating from the source, God, the Light Continuum. When we incarnate, our energetic being, our soul, emanates through a process of restriction at various levels, through spiritual dimensions into the material dimension, eventually generating a physical or material body and life, an incarnation in the physical or material world. When we incarnate, in effect, we become a dual being, having an existence on an energetic and material level; that is to say, we become an energetic being and a material being. At the outset, usually, when we are little children our energetic and material being are aligned and in harmony, completely integrated with one another, and although unconscious of it, we experience an inseparability from our environment and we are near to our source, experiencing our innate unity with the source of our being, the True Light.
Indeed, if we look with the sight of the Spirit, or we look with our interior senses in an expanded state of consciousness, and we gaze upon a little child in the energetic dimension, in most cases what we behold is a vision of incredible luminosity and beauty, seemingly divine or "angelic." We see a radiant aura or field of energy that is somewhat egg-shaped and very bright. As we continue to gaze, looking within this we see the image of the child in a body composed of even more subtle energy or light, and within that body we can see a matrix of energetic channel-ways and centers that look like points of light or little stars. What we see is, indeed, a person of light or energy who is self-generating, self-transforming, with an incredible self-healing power, and it is a vision of holy awe and wonder to see, for seeing this we are glimpsing the truth of a human soul as a radiant energetic or light being.
If and when we are able to see a little child in this way we may understand a curious saying from the Gospel of St. Thomas:
Yeshua Said, "An individual old in days will not hesitate to ask a little child seven days old about the place of life, and that individual will live. For many of the first will be among the last, and they will become a single one" (Saying 4).
This integrated state of being, however, is unconscious in a little child and it does not tend to last very long once a soul is incarnate in this world. Fairly swiftly the karmic continuum of the soul begins to become activated, habitual patterns in consciousness formed in previous lives begin to arise. As the person of the incarnation forms consciousness and becomes conditioned through interactions with family, society, environment, and education, we experience negative exchanges of energy between ourselves and others, or what we view as traumatic events. In this process, more and more we become identified with the surface consciousness, with name and form, and personal history—our material being—and we lose touch with our soul, our energetic being. In effect, we become divided, our energetic being and material being no longer aligned and in harmony, no longer integrated.
When this happens we lose awareness of our inner being, and in losing awareness of our inner being, our soul or energetic being, we lose our awareness of our innate connection with the source of our being, the Divine, the True Light. We become bound up in ignorance, an illusion of separation, a delusion of lack. Likewise, habitual and negative patterns in consciousness from previous lives and from traumatic events in this life (negative self-images, thoughts, and emotions) create distortions, disruptions and, obstructions in the flow of energy or light, and in our energetic being.
Typically speaking, when we look at the energetic being of most adults with the sight of the Spirit, or in with interior senses in an expanded state of consciousness, what we see is very different than with a little child. The aura appears dim in comparison with that of little children, and it often will appear distorted in one way or another, and in it we may see a displaced energy. Likewise, as we gaze deeper we will find distortions in the subtle body or light image of the person, and perceive blockages in the matrix of energetic channel-ways, and we will find various imbalances in the energetic centers within the subtle body.
The state of disharmony between our energetic and material being and within our energetic being is what produces our experiences of sorrow and suffering, illness, disease and ill fortune in life—it all has its root on a spiritual and psychic level, an energetic level, in our soul, which then plays out on a physical or material level. This awareness of ourselves as energetic and material beings, and the cause of illness, disease, and ill fortune on an occurring on energetic level is the basis of spiritual healing—Gnostic Healing.
Essentially, the process of Gnostic healing is the restoration of the original state of our being as little children, a restoration to the state of the original blessing in which we are all conceived, but that as a mature and awakened individual we are also aware of ourselves as a co-creator inseparable from the universal and the source of our being, God, the True Light. In a word, it is a process of reintegration, the reintegration of our energetic and material being, our soul and body, and the reintegration of our energetic being with its source, the Holy One of Being.
The Gospel of Thomas hints at this:
Yeshua said, "When you make two into one, you will become children of the Human One. When you say to the mountain, 'Move,' the mountain will move" (Saying 106).
There is an even more direct teaching about this in the Gospel of Thomas, however, which says:
Yeshua saw some babies nursing and he said to his disciples, "These nursing babies are like souls who enter the kingdom." The disciples said to him, "Then shall we enter the kingdom as babies?" Yeshua responded, "When you make the two into one, and when you make the inner like the outer and the outer like the inner, and the upper like the lower, and when you make male and female into a single one, so that the male will not be male nor the female be female, when you make eyes in place of an eye, a hand in place of a hand, a foot in place of a foot, an image in place of an image, then you will enter into the kingdom" (Saying 22).
In the healing art within Gnostic Christianity we learn how to access the presence and power of the Divine that is in us: the power to re-create our lives, heal ourselves, and to work wonders in our lives, as well as to help others re-create their lives, heal themselves, and work wonders in their lives. It is a journey of self-exploration and self-knowledge that leads to an experience of the awakening of the soul and divine illumination, or to what is called the "Gnostic experience."
The Gnostic experience is, in fact, at the very heart of the healing way, and it is an experience that is threefold: 1) It is an experience of higher or more expanded states of consciousness; 2) an opening of consciousness to new dimensions—inner or metaphysical dimensions, the energetic or visionary dimension; 3) and it is knowledge of God acquired through direct spiritual and mystical experience of God, the fruition of which is a conscious experience of unification with God—our full reintegration with the Light Continuum, the source of all being.
In this we may know and understand that Gnostic healing isn't just the relief of our pain and suffering, or the restoration of wellness and wholeness of our being in this life, but it is also a way upon the path to enlightenment; its ultimate aim is the enlightenment and liberation of our soul, a healing in the body and beyond the body.
The aim is our self-realization in Christ, the realization of Supernal or Messianic Consciousness.
This is why along with practices for the healing of people in the midst of life, the healing art in Gnostic Christianity also teaches practices for the healing of people who are dying, as well as practices for the healing of souls in the afterlife—healing in the body and healing beyond the body.
In truth, the healing arts within Gnostic Christianity are teachings about conscious living, which empower conscious dying: a reintegration of ourselves with the Truth and Light in life, which leads to our full reintegration with the Light Continuum when we depart this body and world; hence, "entrance into the kingdom," the light realm, on earth and in heaven.
From a Gnostic perspective, it is this healing way that Yeshua Messiah comes to teach us.
Article originally published in The Llewellyn Journal. Copyright Llewellyn Worldwide, 2010. All rights reserved.