Welcome to the First Issue of Mind Over Matter -- bringing you inspiration, hope and practical tools for your return to well-being. Whether seeking recovery from depression, anxiety, or stress, or looking for a greater peace, happiness and personal satisfaction with life, we can offer some light in the dark.
More than just ideas to help you during times of crisis and trouble, Mind Over Matter has something for everyone - to help you on your journey towards becoming more conscious, empowered, successful, and joyful.
"Follow Your Bliss"
The greatest tool you have is your Mind. The greatest friend you have is your Self. The mind can be your biggest obstacle or your most powerful instrument. In Yoga, there a distinction between the thinking mind or "intellect" and the higher mind or "super-conscious mind," sometimes called "Consciousness" or "Self." Though they are both aspects of the same life force, they work in different directions. The intellect or small mind takes you into the limited and conflicted world of the ego. This mind only sees things in comparison to other things - always judging, analyzing and worrying. This lower mind contains thoughts of separation, isolation, and fear, and is not aware of any greater source of wisdom or energy beyond itself.
The Higher Mind takes you beyond all limitations and beliefs, into the realm of pure awareness, where all possibilities exist, and fear does not have a hold. All personal growth is a movement towards the super-conscious mode of being. This mode of existence is beyond labels, beyond judgment, and beyond distinctions such as "good" and "evil." It is in this state of being that true freedom, peace and happiness are discovered.
The word "psychotherapy" comes from "psyche" which means the Soul, and "therapy" meaning healing. So psychotherapy is "soul-healing." Transpersonal psychotherapy is a unique branch of psychology, founded on the recognition that we are more than our individual histories, more than the physical body, more than our beliefs and personality.... there is a pure consciousness that exists at our core, and it is within this pure and unlimited consciousness that the mind and body appear to reside.
What does that mean? It means, as my teacher puts it, "you are a Soul and have a body -- you are not a body who has a soul."
In practice, transpersonal psychotherapy (and many other types of therapy), aim to assist us in getting beyond the dysfunctional and limited beliefs and thoughts that keep us in pain. What is unique about the Transpersonal approach, is that rather than just replacing one thought with another, the ultimate goal of transpersonal therapy is to free the mind from attachments, and to experience more expanded, more blissful, more unified states of consciousness.
If we try to seek happiness by fixing the body -- or the brain -- we miss the boat, and we do not find lasting happiness or healing. The multi-billion dollar drug industry would like you to believe the commercials on your TV, with the cute little pill skipping along and offering you a cure for your sadness and emptiness and fear. The drug industry pumps literally billions of dollars into advertising so that we will all come to believe that everything that ails us is due to a "chemical imbalance," or a defective brain, that can be neatly remedied with a drug. This is pure fantasy, and deception. While some drugs do have their place, and do sometimes help to save people from becoming hopelessly lost, overwhelmed or suicidal -- often the benefit is limited and temporary. Without all the other supports in life -- family, friends, personal growth work, spiritual teachings, and healing professionals such as psychotherapists -- the pill often just doesn't deliver. Medication when used appropriately can elevate the mood, decrease anxiety or even out severe mood swings so that you can function again, and start to utilize additional supports, work on raising your self-esteem, create structure, find a job, and so on. It can get you out of the hole so you can start to rebuild your life - but the pill doesn't do the work -- you do.
I always suggest trying alternative and holistic means of recovery first, except in certain cases of very severe depression, bipolar disorder, or debilitating anxiety, where it may be safer and make more sense to try psychiatric medications first.
What is Meditation?
Unless you've practiced some formal type of meditation, you probably have a lot of confusion and misconceptions about what it really is. Meditation is part science, part art, part spiritual path. It does not require any belief system or religion. There are many types of meditation -- most of them flowing from the same source of ancient knowledge in the timeless traditions of India, dating back far more than 5,000 years.
To put it in very simple terms - meditation is a way of entering into present-moment-awareness, where thoughts, emotions, beliefs, and self-image all fade into the background, while the light of your eternal consciousness becomes your predominant experience. This shift in awareness is an ever expanding process. It's not like you meditate every day for a month and then you get enlightened. Usually when a person claims they are enlightened and have no ego, they are deluded and actually have an enormous ego!
Meditation may free you from many self-imposed limitations, fears, and unhealthy attachments, but the results come gradually, and only through regular practice. Even so, the results can be more profound and far reaching than just about anything else you might do for yourself.
Why wait? Try meditating right now. Put on some headphones and click play to listen to my guided meditations. Find a comfortable, quiet place to sit as you listen. These two 15 minute meditations should give you a good start:
Ever wonder why your relationships always seem to follow repeated patterns? Even from one relationship to the next?
We often develop relationships based on unconscious, habitual and emotion driven behavior, but this creates disharmony, chaos, conflict, all types of abuse, lack of intimacy and delusion.
Conscious relationship is the natural result of working on your Self and making your own personal growth your highest priority. If you enter into relationships trying to fix or change your partner, you will get burned. And if you seek a relationship that will "heal" you -- your knight in shining armor that will worship you, save you or complete you -- you will undoubtedly end up disappointed, bitter and broken hearted. Conscious relationships are based on equality, autonomy, mature and effective communication, empathy, compassion and mutual support to follow your own bliss.
Simply put, the truth of it is this: You WANT a relationship with your partner. You don't NEED a relationship with your partner. "I NEED you," sounds romantic, but is a sure sign of an unhealthy relationship. Your happiness does not exist outside yourself. Your happiness is not within someone else.
Bipolar Disorder: "Touched With Fire"
Bipolar Disorder or "manic depression" affects about one in 70 people, across all cultures, and is equal for men and women. We know that it is partly hereditary, but not completely genetic. Twin studies reveal that among identical twins, about 70% will both develop symptoms of Bipolar Disorder, leaving 30% of twins where only one develops Bipolar Disorder. This clearly shows that despite genetics and even parenting influences, there are other factors which often trigger the disorder, when there is a "genetic vulnerability." These triggers can be stress, trauma, major losses, sleep deprivation, poor diet, drug or alcohol abuse, exposure to environmental toxins such as pesticides or other chemical toxins, heavy metal toxicity, psychological or spiritual issues, or physical health problems, to name just some possibilities.
The most successful approach that I've found for treating Bipolar Disorder is holistically -- from all sides -- to achieve optimum health on all levels. Some of the most influential artists, musicians, poets and entrepreneurs have been Bipolar. By getting comprehensive treatment, the creative genius of the Bipolar mind need not be lost in a haze of medication. Medication can often be minimized by learning to reduce stress, manage relationships, recognize warning signs of depression or mania, and building a reliable support system.
Depression has sometimes been called "the common cold of mental illness." It is the most common of all the mental illnesses but effects more women then men by a margin of 3 to 1. Clinical depression is more than just a low mood or temporary blues. Depression, when untreated can worsen and become life-threatening - leading to suicide at it's worst. It is also a major reason for substance abuse, failed relationships, lost jobs, obesity, eating disorders and other problems.
Like other psychiatric diagnoses, depression is defined by a cluster of symptoms, yet its cause can be attributed to a wide variety of factors, both physical as well as psychological. There is no single treatment for depression, and in my experience, it is most effective to treat it from as many angles as possible. Very often, there is an underlying emotional issue that has gone undetected - such as repressed anger, unresolved grief, low self-esteem, guilt or fear.
Exercise has been shown to be one of the most effective treatments for depression. Human contact is another. Isolation is one of the biggest reasons for worsening serious depression. It is extremely important to seek professional help if you have severe depression or mood swings. Psychotherapy is a proven, effective treatment for depression. Omega-3 fatty acids - found most abundantly in fish oil - is one of the best nutritional treatments for depression, as well as B-Complex and other vitamins and an overall healthy, pure, and organic diet.
Often, severe and prolonged bouts of depression are actually the beginnings of a Bipolar Disorder that has not fully developed yet. It is far too common for doctors to prescribe an anti-depressant which then ends up triggering a severe manic episode. Only then does it become apparent that the patient has Bipolar Disorder. This is one of the most reckless and dangerous treatments for the wrong person. For this reason, see a licensed therapist for talk therapy, and then maybe a psychiatrist (MD who specializes in mental illness) rather than using your general family doctor (unless you have no choice). Even psychiatrists (MD's who specialize in mental health) can get it wrong -- so do your homework -- be cautious, ask lots of questions and trust your intuition when working with any doctor.
Supplements and Nutrition Advice:
Fish Oil is brain food, and heart food too. Flax seed oil is a very inferior substitute, so you vegetarians are at a disadvantage when it comes to getting good Omega 3 Fatty Acids in quantity. In some studies, fish oil was equal in effectiveness to some medications in the treatment of Bipolar Disorder. So if you aren't ready to accept the meds -- go for the fish.
Our food supply has become lower and lower in quality and purity. This is due to many factors - factory farming, the constant introduction of countless chemicals and pesticides into our food chain, depleted soil quality, preservatives and additives in food and over-processed food. Mainstream sources of food - like your local chain supermarket - sell products that are made as cheaply as possible, full of sugar and carbohydrates and artificial flavors - because they are focused on making money. They are not interested in producing food that is nutritious. Nutritious is not a top selling point to mainstream consumers. When in doubt, think natural and simple. Whenever possible, eat organic (pesticide free), unprocessed, fresh, and local foods. It can have a profound effect on your overall health and mood.
Don't overdo the caffeine. In the age of Starbucks, it can be tempting to toss down multiple cups of strong coffee to get through the day. Try to limit your consumption and consider tapering down to black or green tea, or Yerba Mate. Ginseng can also be a good substitute as an energy booster and overall nerve tonic (but don't take too much - especially if you have manic episodes).
Minimize sugar as much as possible. It gives a quick but unsustained boost to your energy and leave you more depleted, fatigued and vulnerable to illness.
Don't Give Up
Every life challenge is an opportunity to awaken. There is no situation that is hopeless. Something positive, healing and transformative is possible in all circumstances, even when we can't recognize it at the time. Sometimes we forge ourselves out of the fire of suffering and loss, and it isn't until the end that we realize what a beautiful work of art has emerged within.
I value your opinions and your feedback! Please let me know if this newsletter was helpful (you can respond directly to this email) and feel free to ask questions. I update my website regularly, so check the site for new information, and if you like what you see, let others know about it.
Wishing you health and great joy!
This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. As with any drug, not all supplements are safe for all individuals and there may be risks and contraindications for people with certain conditions. Always consult a professional healthcare provider before before trying to treat a serious condition on your own.
Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.