There’s another world out there. Like entering through a secret portal, it’s a world that only some people experience. A world few have visited and only some can live in.
Like traveling to another country, it’s a world that only some people ever get to see. A chill in the air only some people ever feel; a dew only few walk across.
It’s when coffee is strongest and the air is most crisp. When the morning light is most entrancing and that soft haze makes everything look magical. It’s when there’s nothing but you and the quiet company of the newly awoken sun.
A select few only get to walk along these empty streets, taking in the energy and the absence of sound. Only few get to feel the morning air, before it becomes tainted and consumed by the breaths of the masses.
Early risers get everything first. The first sounds, the first bites, the first waves of new air. They get to the streets before they’re littered and walked across. They get the news before it’s shared and exposed. They get the world before it’s crowded and full.
They are the planners, the leaders, the doers. They are the ones who don’t wait for you to get up, but beat you to the punch. They are the ones who are starting their lives with purpose, every morning. And according to Emotion, the study published in the American Psychological Association journal, even though night owls may be more creative and intelligent, early birds are more successful.
Because our society is structured around a 9-5 work period, people who wake up early are more accustomed and productive during those hours, so we’ve deemed them more socially acceptable.
They go into work already awake, rather than spending half the day in a fog. They go to bed when the sun goes down, rather than when it’s coming up. They are accustomed to — and in-tune — with the schedule society functions around.
This schedule is referred to as our “social clock,” according to Renee Biss, the scientist from the University of Toronto who led the study.
Social jetlag is the term given to night owls; their biological clocks are not in sync with society’s social clock and, therefore, they end up having a hard time meeting societal expectations and functioning throughout the day.
Early birds, on the other hand, are more productive and happier throughout the day because their schedules are aligned.
They reap the benefits of the chaotic threshold that begins when their alarm clocks go off. They are already making their mark, hatching their plans and creating a day worth living before you’ve gotten the strength to get out of bed.
They have first dibs on the day
They get everything first, and that makes all the difference. They get the first opportunities and the first bites of life. They get the first chances to strike and the first attempts at success.
Contrary to night owls, who use the night for creativity, early birds use the morning for planning and plotting. They are hatching plans, finding answers and leading the charge.
According to a study conducted at a Texas University in 2008, college kids who wake up earlier are more likely to graduate at the top of their class.
Using a questionnaire, students were instructed to determine themselves as either morning people or evening people. They compared the results to the GPAs of the participants and found that those who considered themselves morning people had higher GPAs than their night-owl counterparts, with the results a full point higher (3.5 vs. 2.5).
Researchers concluded the reasons for these discrepancies could be found in the lifestyle of the early birds. Kids who wake up earlier are less likely to go out at night and make bad decisions because they know they have to be up sooner. They are also more prone to get to classes on time and create study habits that are more conducive to the college lifestyle.
They have all morning to figure it out
The more time you spend on a problem, the more solutions you procure. Early birds have the distinct advantage of having hours to figure out their days and plan for the problems they will face. They get work done before you’ve even opened your eyes and are on to the next set of problems before you’ve even taken your morning shower.
According to Christopher Randler, a biology professor at Harvard, early birds are more productive because they have time to anticipate problems and solutions. They are proactive and goal-oriented, which is a quality most leaders possess. They are ready for anything because they’ve been awake.
Surveying 367 college students, Randler asked them what time of day they were most energetic and how willing they were to take action to change a certain situation or outcome to be in their favor.
Not surprisingly, the early birds were more prone to agree with statements like, “I spend time identifying long-range goals for myself” and, “I feel in charge of making things happen.”
They have healthier habits
They eat breakfast; they go for a run; they make time for the gym. They have time to do all that stuff you can’t fathom doing when you wake up late for work. They are the ones who are going to find time during the day to do all those things that keep them healthier and, ultimately, happier.
They are also eating better than night owls. According to a 2011 Northwestern University study published in Women’s Health Magazine, night owls eat twice as much fast food than early risers, and have a higher BMI.
Early birds are also prone to eat more fruits and vegetables, as much as double the amount as those who sleep late.
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Saturday, November 01, 2014
Friday, October 24, 2014
SACRED EXHAUSTION via Jeff Foster
Your tiredness has dignity to it! Do not rush to pathologise it, or push it away, for it may contain great intelligence, even medicine.
You have been on a long journey from the stars, friend. Bow before your tiredness now; do not fight it any longer.
There is no shame in admitting that you cannot go on. Even the courageous need to rest.
For a great journey lies ahead. And you will need all of your resources.
Come, sit by the fire of Presence. Let the body unwind; drop into the silence here. Forget about tomorrow, let go of the journey to come, and sink into this evening's warmth.
Every great adventure is fuelled by rest at its heart.
Your tiredness is noble, friend, and contains healing power... if you would only listen...
- Jeff Foster
Wednesday, October 01, 2014
What if the name of the sensation we call FEAR, was changed to 'BANANA'? Would it be the same?
Labels: Eckhart Tolle
Monday, September 29, 2014
...Eckhart Tolle on Death and Dying...
This essay has been presented at the conference Dying, Death and Grieving a cultural Perspective, RMIT University, Storey Hall, 349 Swanston Street, Melbourne, Victoria, 22nd and 23rd March 22, 2002.
...Ven. Thich Nguyen Tang...
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As a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, working as a Buddhist chaplain at several of Melbourne's hospitals and as well as Melbourne assessment prison, I have witnessed many personal tragedies faced by the living and of course the very process of dying and that of death and many of these poor people faced their death with fear, with misery and pain before departing this world. With the images of all these in my mind, on this occasion, I wish to share my view from the perspective of a Buddhist and we hope that people would feel far more relaxed in facing this inevitable end since it is really not the end of life, according to our belief.
Death and the impermanence of life
In the teaching of the Buddha, all of us will pass away eventually as a part in the natural process of birth, old-age and death and that we should always keep in mind the impermanence of life. The life that we all cherish and wish to hold on.
To Buddhism, however, death is not the end of life, it is merely the end of the body we inhabit in this life, but our spirit will still remain and seek out through the need of attachment, attachment to a new body and new life. Where they will be born is a result of the past and the accumulation of positive and negative action, and the resultant karma (cause and effect) is a result of ones past actions.
This would lead to the person to be reborn in one of 6 realms which are; heaven, human beings, Asura, hungry ghost, animal and hell. Realms, according to the severity of ones karmic actions, Buddhists believe however, none of these places are permanent and one does not remain in any place indefinitely. So we can say that in Buddhism, life does not end, merely goes on in other forms that are the result of accumulated karma. Buddhism is a belief that emphasizes the impermanence of lives, including all those beyond the present life. With this in mind we should not fear death as it will lead to rebirth.
The fear of death stemmed from the fear of cease to be existent and losing ones identity and foothold in the world. We see our death coming long before its arrival, we notice impermanence in the changes we see around us and to us in the arrival of aging and the suffering due to losing our youth. Once we were strong and beautiful and as we age, as we approach our final moments of life we realize how fleeting such a comfortable place actually was.
It is natural to grieve the loss of family members and others we knew, as we adjust to living without their presence and missing them as part of our lives. The death of a loved one, or even someone we were not close to, is terribly painful event, as time goes on and the people we know pass away along the journey of life, we are reminded of our own inevitable ends in waiting and everything is a blip of transience and impermanent.
At a certain moment, the world seems suddenly so empty and the sense of desperation appears to be eternity. The greater the element of grief and personal loss one tends to feel sorry for oneself.
Some of us may have heard the story of the women who came to the Buddha in great anguish, carrying her dead child pleading him to bring the child back to life. The Buddha said Bring to me a mustard seed from any household where no-one had ever died and I will fulfill your wish. The woman's attempt to search for such seed from houses were in vain and of course she could not find any household in which no-one had ever died and suddenly she realized the universality of death.
According to Buddhism, our lives and all that occurs in our lives is a result of Karma. Every action creates a new karma, this karma or action is created with our body, our speech or our mind and this action leaves a subtle imprint on our mind which has the potential to ripen as future happiness or future suffering, depending on whether the action was positive or negative.
If we bring happiness to people, we will be happy. If we create suffering, we will experience suffering either in this life or in a future one.
This is called the Law of Karma, or the Law of Cause and Effect. Karmic law will lead the spirit of the dead to be reborn, in realms which are suitable appropriate to their karmic accumulations.
According to His Holiness, the 14 th Dali Lama of Tibet, that to cultivate the good karma, our good actions are an excellent way prepare for our death. Not performing evil deeds, keeping our heart and mind pure, doing no harm, no killing, sexual misconduct or lying, not using drugs or alcohol has very positive merit which enable us to die as we have lived.
The way we pass reflects the way we lived our lives, a good death putting a good stamp on a good life. As Leonardo Da Vinci once wrote in his notebook; Just as a well spent day brings happy sleep, so a life well spent brings a happy death. If we have lived a life of emotional turmoil, of conflict selfish desire unconcerned for others, our dying will be full of regrets, troubles and pain. It is far better to care for the lives for all around us rather than spending a fortune in prolonging life or seeking ways to extend it for those who can afford it, at the expense of relieving suffering in more practical ways. Improving the moral and spiritual quality of life improves its quality for us all rather than the selfish individualism that benefits the elite few who draw most resources.
Preparing for death:
Buddhist clergy often remind their followers about closeness of death, emphasize the importance in getting to know death and take time to prepare for their own demise.
How do we prepare for death?. It is really simple, just behave in a manner which you believe is responsible, good and positive for yourself and towards others. This leads to calmness, happiness and an outlook which contributes to a calm and controlled mind at the time of death.
Through this positive and compassionate outlook of life, always being aware of the impermanence of life and having a loving attitude towards all living things in this transient existence we will be free of fear in opposite to grasping selfishly to life due to not having experienced happiness in life.
Having lead a responsible and compassionate life and have no regrets when death approaches enables us to surrender without a struggle to the inevitable and in a state of grace which need not be as uncomfortable as we are led to believe.
The concept of rebirth or reincarnation has become more popular in the west in recent years due to the influence of Tibetan Buddhism, especially, the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying (by Sogyal Rinpoche, 1992) became a best seller in the USA and has been widely read throughout the developed countries by new generations who are concerned with alternative thinking and eastern cultural perspectives. Naturally people concern with life beyond death was stimulated by the ideas contained in such philosophies and beliefs.
The supreme aim of Buddhism is to obtain nirvana or enlightenment. This translated means a state of liberation or illumination from the limitations of existence. It is the liberation from the cycle of rebirth through countless lives up and down the 6 states of existence. It is obtained through the extinction of desire.
Nirvana is a state that is obtainable in this life through the right aspiration, purity of life, and the elimination of egotism. This cessation of existence as we know it, the attainment of being, as distinct from becoming.  The Buddha speaks of it as unborn, un-originated, uncreated, unformed, contrasting it with the born, originated, created, and formed phenomenal world. Those who have obtained the state of Nirvana are called Buddhas. Gautama Siddhartha had obtained this state and had become a Buddha at 35. However it is now believed that it was only after he had passed away that he reached such a place of perfect tranquility, because some residue of human defilement would continue to exist as long as his physical body existed.
According to Buddhism if a human does not obtain nirvana or enlightenment, as it is known, the person cannot escape the cycle of death and rebirth and are inevitably be reborn into the 6 possible states beyond this our present life, these being in order from the highest to lowest;
Heaven. In Buddhism there are 37 different levels of heaven where beings experience peace and long lasting happiness without suffering in the heavenly environment.
Human life. In Buddhism we can be reborn into human life over and over, either wealthy or poor, beautiful or not so, and every state between and both as it it is served up to us. Anything can happen, as is found in human life and society all around us as we are familiar with in the day to day human world in is myriad of possibilities. What we get is a result of our Karma of what we have dragged with us from previous existences and how it manifests in our temporary present lives.
Asura. A spiritual state of Demi-Gods but not the happy state experienced by the gods in the heavens above this state. The Demi-Gods are consumed with jealousy, because unlike humans, they can clearly see the superior situation of the gods in the heavens above them. They constantly compete and struggle with the gods due to their dissatisfaction with their desires from the others.
Hungry Ghost. This spiritual realm of those who committed excessive amounts of evil deeds and who are obsessed with finding food and drink which they cannot experience and thus remain unsatisfied and tortured by the experience. They exhaust themselves in the constant fruitless searching.
Animals. This realm is visible to humans and it is where spirits of humans are reborn if they have killed animals or have committed a lot of other evil acts. Animals do not have the freedom that humans would experience due to being a subject constantly hunted by humans, farmed and used in farming, also as beasts for entertainment.
Hell. This realm is not visible to humans. It is a place where beings born there experience a constant state of searing pain and the various types of hell realms reads like a variety of horrific torture chambers. Those with a great deal of negative Karma can remain in such places for eons of time.
To conclude, as already mentioned, none of us can avoid death and if we are not free from the vicious cycle of death and rebirth, we are doomed to the endless cycles of life and death and its paradoxical nature of suffering, of happiness and sadness, youth and ageing, healthiness and sickness, pain and death, all because we are so attached to the existence in the first place.
The Buddha urged us to prepare for death, to prepare for that journey by cleansing the mind and not being so attached to things, to be able to let go and release ourselves for needing to be, from needing to have. Through this we will not suffer so much as we pass through the final stage of the present life, we can let go, be grateful for what we had but not clutch to it, not try to ensure permanency and cause ourselves to suffer more than we need to. This way we can end the cycle and leave forever, obtaining nirvana and release from the cycle of death and rebirth.
Thursday, September 18, 2014
HIS MOMENT, FRIEND, THIS MOMENT
This is for anyone who is going through a crisis, big or small.
Friend, I know that sometimes it feels like everything's falling apart, and even the most beautiful spiritual words sound like bullshit, meaningless, flowery, new-age drivel. We lose everything we thought defined us, or made us happy, everything that seemed to matter to us, and it feels like we will never recover. We are left in total despair, disappointment, disillusionment. It seems like 'the end', with no hope of recovery.
Yet in life, there are no true endings, only transformations, new beginnings emerging from rubble. Old dreams dying, the false falling away, which can be excruciatingly painful, of course, of course! Destruction, breakdowns, disruptions, shocks and losses, often feel like enemies, but always contain seeds of the new, and sometimes it just takes time to recover. This devastation you are going through, this crucifixion of dreams you feel, is an opportunity to let go of EVERY SINGLE IDEA you've ever had of how your life was "supposed to be", all those cherished dreams that were simply false, yet beautiful and useful at the same time.
The invitation today is to be present to your life, to wake up to it, to turn towards this immediacy, to dignify what is actually happening where you are. If there is loneliness visiting you here and now, do not turn away. If there is fear, do not push it away or try to escape. If there is frustration, anxiety, or just a quiet sense of hopelessness moving in you, do not reject these energies. They just want to be felt, now. They are not wrong. They are your lost children, orphans of awakening, and just want to move and be felt. Sometimes life brings us to our knees so that we will FEEL everything we've been running away from all our lives. And yes, the 'meeting' may hurt. But perhaps feeling the hurt is the beginning of healing, not the ending of it.
And watch the mind. How it constantly spins, rewinds and fast-forwards, constantly leaves the present scene of your life, here and now. Thought is constantly running away from the present moment. It goes into memory - of how good things were before, of how wonderful your life used to be. And it longs to return there. And it feels unable to. And despair results. Regret. Longing. Homesickness. And it fast-forwards into the future, imagining all kinds of future scenarios, many dark and scary. It takes you into regions way beyond your control. And both movements into past and future disconnect you from where you are NOW, which is all there is. They take you away from your only point of power - this moment.
But this moment is all there is. This breath. These sensations. Present sounds, smells. Present beating of the heart, the feeling of your butt on the chair. A little bird singing on the tree outside. The buzz of the television over there. A feeling of contraction in the chest, tenderness in the throat. This is a call to radical, radical simplicity. To honouring the not-knowing. To admitting humility in the face of life. Without the story of past and future, can you really know that your life has 'gone wrong'? For that is the belief at the core of everything, isn't it? That your life has 'gone wrong'. That the 'me' has failed somehow. That the universe is cruel and somehow against you. It's an intelligent conclusion to make, yes. I won't judge you for it. But perhaps it's not the truth. Perhaps the mind doesn't know.
My friend, your disillusionment, your inability to believe all those spiritual teachings now, including my own, is not a mistake - it is pure intelligence at work! Your disillusionment is part of waking up, not the end of waking up! This is all an invitation to a deeper awakening than you ever thought possible. You are being forced to question everything - everything - including all those cherished spiritual teachings that once held so much value. You are being called to find your own authority, to let go of all those bullshit ideas about what 'a good life' means. You are being invited to let go of everything second-hand, everything old, everything received - from parents, teachers, gurus - everything in memory, and be present to life, raw and naked.
Sometimes we have to lose everything to remember our total humility, to remember that we are not in control, and that each moment is full of wonder and thrilling uncertainty. You are on a path of devastation now - it was exactly what Jesus was teaching. This is not the end for you - it is the beginning of a new and different life, a new way of moving in the world, however hard that is to see. It is a time of renewal, of slowing-down, of discovering the abundance contained within the nothingness. A time to be kinder to yourself. There is so much potential for you, friend, even if you cannot believe that.
There have been many times in my own life when I felt unable to go on, unable to stand. I felt that I had lost everything, that nothing was possible, that the void was the only life. But I just didn't know what the universe had in store.
Even though you feel lonely and abandoned, frightened and angry, friend, know that many others are walking with you, and many others understand. You will write your own book of transformation one day.
This moment, friend. THIS moment.
- Jeff Foster