Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Use Meditation To Relieve Stress

Meditation is a form of alternative medicine that promotes relaxing and mental calmness through the use of controlling or suspending thoughts for a certain period of time. Since meditation involves physical and mental relaxation, it's a great way to relieve stress.

When some people hear about meditation as a way to relieve stress, they laugh and think it's a bunch of baloney. They think that meditation is not a viable solution to eliminating stress. But research has shown that meditation works and is a practical technique for stress management.

The most notable research on meditation's usefulness in relieving stress was done in 1968 by Dr. Herbert Benson of Harvard University. Dr. Benson wrote that meditation increased the skin's resistance to damage or infections, slowed the heartbeat and breathing rate, and reduced oxygen consumption.

Meditation is all about consciously relaxing your mind and body for a period of time. Meditation means that you need to focus inwardly so that your mind is basically so busy concentrating on breathing and body form that there's no time to think about the events that are causing you stress.

The act of meditation is actually quite simple to do. Meditation does not require you to be a mystic or to be very spiritual. Meditation is something that anyone can do almost anywhere.

When you prepare yourself for meditation, be sure to set aside a certain amount of time where you're guaranteed not to be interrupted. Meditation doesn't require hours of practicing at a time for it to be effective in reducing stress. Practicing meditation is ten- or twenty-minute time slots is definitely good enough.

Effective meditation requires that you're in a comfortable, quiet environment. This means that when you practice meditation, you should make sure that you're wearing comfortable, unrestrictive clothing. The atmosphere temperature (whether you're indoors or outdoors) should also be comfortable for you in order to make your meditation session as stress fighting as possible.

Stress-relieving meditation is all about concentration. Focus your attention of your breathing throughout your entire meditation session.

When you're in a meditation session is to use imagery, another way to control wandering thoughts. Imagery is very popular in meditation. All you have to with imagery is focus on something you consider refreshing or pleasant. Music is also a popular way to help mind concentration during meditation. You can do a monologue hum. Or you can use some soothing music that features plenty of nature sounds.

The key to meditation is mind control. When you learn to control your mind, you can control your thoughts, and you'll be able to better control the functions of your muscles. Sometimes it takes a bit of time to learn not to let your mind wander to other thoughts while you're in a meditation session. Once you've mastered meditation, you'll discover you'll be able to do it almost anywhere to relax when you're feeling overwhelmed with stress.

When some people hear about meditation as a way to relieve stress, they laugh and think it's a bunch of baloney. The most notable research on meditation's usefulness in relieving stress was done in 1968 by Dr. Herbert Benson of Harvard University. Meditation doesn't require hours of practicing at a time for it to be effective in reducing stress. The atmosphere temperature (whether you're indoors or outdoors) should also be comfortable for you in order to make your meditation session as stress fighting as possible.

Once you've mastered meditation, you'll discover you'll be able to do it almost anywhere to relax when you're feeling overwhelmed with stress.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Livin’ the Dream, Beyond Your Dreams

Do you want to be healthy, happy and deeply fulfilled? You can practice self-improvement and wellness of body and mind until the cows come home and still not feel happy or find health and fulfillment. This psychiatrist, naturopath, brain researcher and experienced meditator offers guiding principles to create a dream life that is beyond what you can dream.

I’ll bet you want to be in great health, to be strong and feel boundless energy? Well, you can exercise ‘til the cows come home, eat perfectly, take the best supplements in the world and do everything health experts recommend and still not have optimal physical wellness! So, what gives?

How could you hope to be in good health if you’ve got a troubled mind? Mental wellbeing is needed for physical wellness. Feeling victimized by life, having low self-esteem, being driven to self-destructive behavior—can all rob you of physical health. Of course, the opposite is also true—feeling physically well helps you feel mentally well.

Now, you can go to therapy for a hundred years, follow all the self-help advice in the world and any other treatment recommendations mental health professionals give you and still not feel mentally well. Now what gives?

How could you hope to be mentally well and as happy and at peace as you can be if you have troubled relationships? To love and be loved, to belong and share life’s moments in a supportive community—this is all crucial to feeling well and happy inside. Of course, in return, it helps to have mental stability and wellbeing to be able to create an empowering community.

With the best of intentions, you can surround yourself by the most loving and supportive family and friends in the world and still not be able to fully benefit from your relationship with them? What gives, you ask?

If your life is a mess, if you are disorganized and ineffective in your daily life, if you are financially irresponsible, don’t manage time well or maintain your home and possessions, you will wear on the people in your life. In the other direction, it’s challenging to get through life and all that it requires if you don’t have support from people—both logistically and emotionally. 

Well, you can engage in excellent health practices, deal with your underlying emotional issues, create love and support in your life and organize your life ‘til your blue in the face and still not be successful in living the life of your dreams. What gives this time, you ask?

You need to live in accord with your highest values and principles. If you aren’t living in accord with your highest values and principles, you are not going to be a success in any area of your life. Without sticking to higher principles you will lose sight of what is in your best interests. One in particular, one special value, is to leave the world a better place because you were here using your unique talents or interests. This is called your mission or purpose. Without having a mission, you will soon feel trapped by life.

Yet a mission can quickly turn self-serving and values can get corrupted even with the best of intentions. So, what gives now? What could you possibly need this time?

An appreciation of your existence! An appreciation of your existence helps keep you in touch with your highest values and gives you passion to change the world. Appreciating your existence requires that you penetrate the truth of this simple fact: your birth defied astronomical odds considering the countless events that had to happen over eons of time in exact way. In other words, this moment, right now, that you are alive, is miraculous. And, the fact that you can know you are alive is the most miraculous thing in the universe!

The more you penetrate this realization, the more you awaken to the miracle of your existence, the more it changes your life. It refocuses your values from the trivial, gives your life instant meaning, relieves you of stress, vitalizes your health, frees you from self-limiting beliefs and self-destructive behavior, and helps you value your relationships in ways you couldn’t before. You become wiser and more effective in how you negotiate life.

At this point, you are close to living a dream life, beyond your dreams. Are we done now? Almost.

You can think about the miracle of your existence ‘til you pop, practice gratitude and even do several kinds of spiritual practice and still not come to a full appreciation of your existence—or at least not for very long.

That’s because to appreciate your existence you must grasp that this moment is really happening now, that you are alive right now—that this is not a dress rehearsal or never-ending story. Yet, this is a brain skill not a thought or idea. Actually, it is a series of brain skills I call “Inshifting.” Inshifting means that your higher brain (the parts that tell you you are alive) is more activated than your lower brain (basically your mind programming). This process helps you grasp being alive and let go of self-limiting beliefs that blind you to how monumental this moment is.

Mindfulness practices are just the beginning of the Inshifting process, but a good place to begin. To get a better sense of what it might be like to be Inshifted, try asking yourself this question: “Where do I most experience ‘now’?” Then notice what you do to try to lock your attention onto that answer. It is not as simple as it may seem, but arguably the most important skill you can learn.

So, practice an interconnecting web of wellnesses that are integrated with brain evolution skills such as mindfulness or Inshifting…and you will live the dream, beyond your dreams! 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Are You a Compulsive Happiness-Seeker?

Find out why most of us are barking up the wrong “happy-tree.”

[Eastern spiritual wisdom has much to say about happiness. Combining Eastern wisdom with Western psychology and wellness can reveal some interesting facts and clear strategies for finding deep and abiding happiness –and resisting compulsive pleasure-seeking.]

Eastern spiritual wisdom has much to tell us on the subject of happiness — brought to you by the people who coined the term “Nirvana.” We’re talking serious happiness here.  

Individuals in most of Eastern traditions who have attained the highest stages of human development possible have been able to describe how they did it in a way that can be readily separated from religious or cultural biases.

Here’s what they said. And it won’t be a surprise, because these notions have been popularized in Western cultures for decades. Yet, profound thought bears repeating — for all of us.

Happiness is a matter of definition. There is a world of difference between pleasure and happiness. Pleasure is a sensation. A transient state. It feels good or even great. Yet, it quickly fades. You all know it: sex, coffee and other drug buzzes, being praised, winning a contest, discovering a new place, enjoying a video game.

Happiness is a trait, a characteristic or style of experiencing that lasts. It is a deeper, abiding sense of wellbeing. It is more profound than pleasurable states. Most of us do not know this trait, except in rare moments, such as feeling pride in the accomplishments of a loved one, in intense love that is not self-serving, in being absorbed in utter tranquility that feels safe and secure, in the discovery that one’s existence is profoundly significant.

Why do we bark up the tree of pleasure at the cost of happiness?

Neurophysiologically, you could say that pleasure releases high amounts of dopamine faster than happiness which can require enduring low dopamine levels before levels rise. In other words, happiness may require letting go of control over dopamine secretion.

Psychologically, you could say that pleasure is immediately reinforcing. It has a more immediate outcome than happiness, which requires a few extra steps of awareness or behavior before it can be reached.

Also getting pleasure is more straightforward than happiness. Happiness requires trust and letting go, etc. Behaviors that are not necessarily built into the survival wiring of our brain. Pleasure is a more primitive and instinctual.

Sociologically, pleasure is reinforced by popular cultures as a way to control the masses. Pleasure is powerful means of control. Happiness cannot be manipulated in that way. Economically, pleasure can be bought. Happiness cannot.

So, what is the reason we bark up the wrong tree? It is the reason that may underlie all the others: We all know what pleasure feels like. Happiness takes advanced personal development to really feel it, or a good deal of trust in other’s descriptions of it to work towards it, or a lot of luck to stumble into it. It takes time. Pleasure doesn’t.

So, what are the consequences of barking up the wrong tree? What’s so wrong with that tree? We all know the answer, but again it bears repeating.

Pleasure is addictive. It’s a bottomless pit — like an itch that cannot be scratched enough. You can scratch an itch, use sex and drugs, work for praise and try to have new experiences until you are blue in the face and never find the penultimate pleasure — which incidentally is happiness! That’s how people die from overdoses when they are addicted and from thrill-seeking that knows no end. That’s how people’s lives get ruined, by working for a level of approval, praise and respect that cannot be achieved — at least not enough to cause real happiness or to make up for the unhappiness hole that the pleasure is trying to fill.

So, if pleasure is hard-wired, easily and quickly achieved, reinforced by society and if happiness requires skill and patience and time, what hope do we have of achieving happiness?

OK, step one: recognize and remember the difference. Believe that happiness exists. Understand intellectually at least that it is the ultimate kind of “pleasure.” That it is unlike other kinds of pleasure because it is deeper and more fundamental. This knowledge will help you resist the impulse to dive into pleasure addiction.

Step two: recognize happiness when it happens. It can present more subtly at first until it builds on itself.

Step three: learn the skills of happiness-building. They are holistic skills that encompass every area of your life: physical vitality, mental wellbeing, love and social connection, competence in expressing your talents and abilities, adhering to morals and values that make the world a better place, and spiritual practices that lend themselves to wide perspectives and existential experience.

All of these practices must be informed by and focused on activating certain parts of the brain that are key to happiness. The parts that help you grasp the significance of each moment.

Vive la difference!

Learn more about this at

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Stress Reduction Techniques: How to Turn Stress into Big Success

Learn one Eastern practice that can make all the difference.

If you lead a busy modern life, then there’s one crucial strategy from Eastern practices that will help you find real happiness. This one skill (hint: it’s in your brain) will keep you from being led astray and swallowed up by stress.
By Jeff Skolnick, MD, PhD. 

Let me set you straight right away. The title of this blog might conjure up an image of a corporate employee or better yet an executive using stress to get more done. No. That’s not what I mean.

I’m talking about turning stress — whether from something specific, like a boss riding you, or something general, like being worried about getting older — into life success.

What is life success? It’s feeling like your life is complete. Being so satisfied, so fulfilled, so dialed into happiness and peace that even if you knew you were going to die in the next hour, you’d feel grateful that you had lived fully. No regrets. No disappointments. Life success is success that’s on a whole different level than just accomplishing things.

It’s really important to say that stress is not just something to be removed as fast as possible — if at all really. It actually helps you get to life success. 

So, how can that be — stress being good? And how is it possible to be so happy and fulfilled you could die in the next moment being really ok with it?

Well, we know that both are possible, because people from every walk of life have reported being able to achieve it. All kinds of people throughout human history. Here’s a modern take on what they said they did.

First, recognize that stress, the mental and bodily tension and emotions that make it up, is a source of energy, a motivator. It’s what makes you want to take the journey to the highest place in life you can get to. You wouldn’t be motivated without it. In fact, you probably wouldn’t even bother reading this blog without it.

And actually, the more stress the better. There’s an ancient expression that says those who suffer the most have the best chance of achieving deep fulfillment, of reaching the highest realms of spiritual attainment (read: life success).

Now, I’m not recommending that you stress the heck out of yourself so you can attain Nirvana. What I am saying is that you shouldn’t try to run from your stress or get freaked out by it, because it is your friend. Welcome it — as bizarre as that may be to hear.

Next, what you’re going to do is use the feelings of your stress to find an inner place of silence and stillness that is stressless. Known for centuries as the “mind’s eye,” “third eye,” or “inner eye,” it is a virtual place inside your head behind your eyes and between your ears.

Pay attention in there carefully enough and you’ll feel it. Of course, you’ll know you hit on it because you’ll immediately see the difference between the feeling of stress in your mind and body and that place of peace within. Try feeling for it. Use your stress like a divining rod. What could be more important than learning how to do that?

That’s a skill that takes some practice. You might be lucky and feel it right away. The trick is to be able to stay there longer and longer. Eventually you’ll move in. Be careful though. The more you grasp for it the more elusive it can be. You have to watch for that.

Finally, when you are able to stay in that inner place of stressless silence and stillness long enough, what happens is that the normal “you” starts slowly disappearing. Now don’t freak out at that possibility. You’re not going anywhere. You just become something more. Let’s call it being less self-conscious to the point that you’re not operating from a place of self-consciousness at all!

Sure, you feel the stress and recognize the thoughts and beliefs that are causing it. You feel the emotions that come from your stress. You just know it from a place of unselfconscious inner knowing. Simply put it means there’s an inner reference point where you are just present, knowing — and really grasping the significance of — the moment. The moment sort of comes alive. It’s really cool even though it does take some practice to find.

The stress of life — which everyone has — happens because you see your life like it’s a movie or story that has a plot and an ending that you have to find. The ending of course is the holy grail, the ultimate goal. You know, happiness. An ideal life that you have to find somewhere! 

When “you” disappear more and more, you find what you want inside you each moment. You enter a wonderful inner place of silence and calm. That’s when the story becomes just that — a story. You realize it doesn’t have to control you.

In that unselfconscious inner place, you find relief from self-consciousness — which is important by itself. When you operate from an inner place of stressless silence and stillness you feel serene, yet excited joy. It’s the fulfillment that we talked about in the beginning of this blog. A place where you could die tomorrow and feel ok because you had lived fully each moment.

So, the lesson? Bless that stress. It leads to success… 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Stress Management Help: Life—the Great Escape

Are you running from or to life? 

Join the club if you have to do something to unwind, relax or shake off the day and—here’s the catch—its gotten unhealthy, obsessive or out of balance. Find out why and what you can do about it.

Do you need to do something to unwind and relax, to shake off the day or cope with stress? Here’s the question: Are these things becoming unhealthy, obsessive or out of balance? If they are, you are eligible to join a highly inclusive club. It’s called Club Humanity.

If you’re caught up doing things to distress or cope or unwind, things that are not serving you, you are likely running from life. So, choose your poison. Whether you move a lot (the “geographic cure”), drink or use drugs; can’t wait to turn on the TV, watch a movie or open your book; eat to feel good, really need to have sex, live for the next vacation, or go from relationship to relationship like Tarzan goes from vine to vine—you may be already be caught up in a vortex of escapism.

Again, it is a rare person who is not trying to escape. Look at the obesity epidemic in children and adults. People eat to feel good. And they find it hard to stop. Again, it’s universal. Whether it’s an elderly black woman in Uganda, a white teen in the US or a Japanese man in Tokyo, we all try to escape life.

Why? Because life is really hard. Because we are vulnerable, sensitive beings who upset each other. Because we hurt ourselves with self-limiting, self-critical beliefs. Because life will never be as good as we can imagine. Because we are just self-aware enough to know that we’ve been given a magnificent miracle called existence, which is going to go away some day.

Even when things are great, some people just can’t enjoy it. They need to add a beer or wish it was better or worry it won’t last.

Now, I’m not trying to be radical here. Some amount of escapism is probably fine. The problem is, for the vast majority of us, escapism becomes a trap. It’s a vicious cycle that propels us dizzyingly through life more stressed, scared and unhappy than we would have been if we just turned and faced what we were running from.

What am I talking about when I say, “turn and face what we are running from”? It amounts to: “Nothing can be changed until it is faced.” (Thoreau). Live in the moment. Be here, now. (Ram Das) “Radical Acceptance.” (Tara Brach). “The Power of Now” (Eckhart Tolle). Carpe diem.

These sayings hint at the opposite of escapism: bathing. Bathing in now. Saturating ourselves in our experience. Immersing ourselves in our senses, thoughts and feelings. So, why do most people get caught up in whirlpools of escapism rather than bathing in their experience of life?  In other words, why don’t we just “be here now”?

Well, who wants to bathe in sadness? Who wants to immerse themselves in boredom? Who would want to purposefully feel anything negative? Because that is what “being here now” means. Acceptance means embracing everything just the way it is. So, here’s a key question: Why would we want to bathe when we can escape?

There are many reasons. One, for example, is that escapism only works for so long. The underlying problem you’re trying to escape from usually gets worse. So, escaping doesn’t usually solve problems.

More importantly, bathing in now shows us a higher part of ourselves that most people aren’t acquainted with. Called many things, like the “inner you,” a “higher self,” your “true nature,” your soul (in a nonreligious sense), it lies very deep within your experience. When touched you feel insanely alive and profoundly grateful for your existence. A source of exhilaration, energy and deep happiness—it’s there no matter what is happening around you or within your emotions. Here’s the catch: Touching this deeper core requires that you completely accept the moment the way it is. You can’t get in there any other way.

So, while most people around the world desperately seek to escape from the drudgeries and hardship of life—creating mega empires in food, alcohol and entertainment industries—some have discovered how to bathe in the moment. More and more people are figuring out how to luxuriate in their experience, even when it is harsh. So can you. 

How do you do it? It’s a skill. A skill that can be broken down into subskills. There are lots of ways to learn parts of it, just a few ways to learn all of it and lots of people who teach it. Start though by asking yourself: am I running to or from life? 

Well, I’ve gotta go. I’ve had hard day and I’m going to fix some popcorn, get a beer and watch a movie.

For more information on Dr. Skolnick, the SatoriWest Method or SatoriWest LifeClubs, go to

Friday, January 24, 2014

Click On Press Release To Visit The Campaign

6 lessons learned (so far) from a struggling Indiegogo campaign

We are a company called the SatoriWest LifeClub…and we have an Indiegogo campaign. I am the operations director and I wanted to share with you a few things we have learned, so that you might avoid the same pitfalls.

Our company vision and mission statement are transformative. We want to start a global movement because we have a formula that helps people change the wiring of their brains to be more content, peaceful and calm.

Like many small businesses, we have the idea…we just don’t have the capital. We explored many ways to acquire funds and landed on crowdfunding. Our vision was that crowdfunding would offer us 3 things: Money, exposure and new customers.  We have 25 days left of our 40 day campaign and we have only raised 5% of our goal. Ouch. We haven’t given up, at all – instead we are taking a step back to assess (and share) what we have learned so far.

1)   Launch when you are ready, even if that means pushing your original deadline. Planning is not a joke. We were focused on getting our campaign out by the beginning of January. We stuck to the deadline rather than waiting until we were really ready. There is a ton of information on how to plan for your campaign and get ready…we kinda jumped the gun.

2)   The campaign will not market itself. This lesson goes hand in hand with making sure you have planned. People won’t just happen upon your campaign. You need to reach out and you need to be putting up new and fresh content. The campaign needs to be your top effort everyday of the campaign and other work projects need to be postponed.

3)   Your network of friends and family may not donate like you thought they would. Our team is small (4 people). We started counting up our combined personal contacts and we were confident at least 20 or 30% of our personal contacts would donate something. That has not been the case. It is not that they are unsupportive, but we made a mistake in estimating such a high conversion rate of close contacts. 

4)   Put on your sales person and marketing hat. We are a team of visionaries, creators, makers, implementers etc…  Marketing and sales are not something that comes naturally to any member of our team.  We feel like we are being pushy, or rude, or spamming.  This has led us to not reach out enough. We need to check our egos at the door and become sales people. Asking for money can be hard. Remember that you are offering people the opportunity to be part of something – not just pan handling. 

5)   Big ideas should be boiled down to an actionable list. Our concept is big (we have a monthly membership club that is designed to help people manage their complex lives and rewire their brains). We focused on getting people to understand the high level goals of our business model. What we offer is transformational and we hope to start a global movement. But, our campaign message isn’t tangible enough for potential contributors to understand what exactly they are funding.

6)   You lose 10% of contributions made through PayPal. Yep…we should have read the fine print, but we didn’t think much of it. We wanted to offer campaign viewers as many options as possible to contribute. We wouldn’t change our decision to offer PayPal as a payment option, but we should have budgeted that into our contribution projections.

All of that said…Check out our Indiegogo campaign. Contribute to our campaign and be part of this global movement. (Of course we had to put in a shameless plug – see, we are practicing being sales people.)

We would love to hear your ideas for how we could have, or still could improve the chances of our campaign being successful.

I also want to say a sincere thank you to our backers so far. Thank you for getting our campaign started and believing in our mission