Welcome to 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.
Announcing: The release of my new e-Book "Natural Cures for Depression" - coming in March. This book contains all of the most effective and powerful methods I've found for overcoming depression, and living a life of joy, peace and purpose. Stay tuned!
"The purpose of our lives is to be happy."
-The Dalai Lama - Exiled head of state and spiritual leader of the Tibetan people
The Sunlight Returns
The long, dark winter hours are finally reversing, as the Sun extends it's warmth into our lives again. Still, we're coming out of hibernation. Extending ourselves back into the world, recreating ourselves and searching for wholeness.
Sunlight has been a proven remedy for depression and physical illnesses for thousands of years. The sun has been revered, respected, celebrated and even worshiped by many cultures throughout the world.
Think about it: What can we not live without? Can't see without? Can't know color without? We can't grow food without it. Can't have any warmth without it. Obviously can't live without it. It inspires us. It's brilliance is a constant presence, a source of comfort and joy, and yet we can't look directly at it because it is so unfathomably bright.
If there was one symbol in our physical world that represented goodness, truth, hope, life, and love - I think it would have to be the sun.
So on the next clear day - do yourself a favor and spend some time sitting in the sun. Get it on your skin and soak it up. Turn your face towards the sun (with eyes gently closed). Your eyes will water but then they will adjust -- (again - keep them closed!).
Sit still and breath it in. Breath slowly and mindfully and feel your body relax and merge with the warmth of the sun. This is the ultimate in free, available, healthy light therapy!
Besides the powerful antidepressant effects that sunlight has on the brain when it enters the optic nerves, sunlight is also a powerful source of ultraviolet light - which allows the body to manufacture its own vitamin D. Vitamin D is an extremely valuable vitamin, necessary for building strong bones, and also protects and heals heart disease and cancer, according to numerous studies.
For more information about the benefits of Sunlight and Solar Meditations, visit:
May we all find peace. May we all know joy. May we all be liberated from fear, and released from illusions. May we all return to the Truth of our inner light.
Energy Psychology and EFT
Energy Psychology is a quickly emerging field of science and healing that works with energy and recognizes that all matter is made of energy. It follows then that all physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health and well-being is also based on energy. Science has advanced to the point of being able to detect and measure radio waves, gamma rays, x-rays, and brain waves. We can measure the electrical impulses of the heart and the nervous system. But we can't yet measure the subtle energy of thoughts.
But rest assured, thoughts do produce subtle energy, and subtle energy is powerful energy. There is no part of the body that is not affected by the thoughts that we think.
Energy Psychology, such as EFT, and meditation takes psychology to a whole new level, and is sure change the entire field of psychology in the next 10 years.
"THE FINEST EMOTION OF WHICH WE ARE CAPABLE IS THE MYSTIC EMOTION"
"Herein lies the germ of all art and all true science. Anyone to whom this feeling is alien, who is no longer capable of wonderment and lives in a state of fear is a dead man. To know that what is impenatrable for us really exists and manifests itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty, whose gross forms alone are intelligible to our poor faculties - this knowledge, this feeling ... that is the core of the true religious sentiment. In this sense, and in this sense alone, I rank myself among profoundly religious men."
Meditation is one of the only forms of self-help that requires nothing external to yourself. If you can breath, you can meditate. But its simplicity is very deceptive, for the depths that can be achieved, and the growth that can be realized through meditation are profound.
We speak of the last frontiers being the unexplored ocean depths, and outer space. But the most vast uncharted territory is actually your very own consciousness. And you don't need a submarine or a spaceship to get there. But you do need a little discipline, an adventurous attitude, and a little courage.
Most beginning meditators quit either because they feel bored or sleepy when they try to sit still to meditate. Others feel restless and agitated. These early "barriers" that are so common for anyone who has tried to meditate, are actually extremely valuable!
Because what gets revealed when you sit still and breathe with awareness is exactly the stuff that keeps you from being at ease and happy in all of your daily activities.
So now that you're sitting there feeling the stuff you don't like to feel, then what?
You keep on sitting there with it. Breathing long and deep. And accepting whatever thoughts and feelings come up. The longer you can accept and tolerate what's in your mind (and body) without reacting to it, or running out of the room - the less intense and overwhelming it will be.
Most importantly -- always, always be gentle with yourself. Don't be a perfectionist. That just defeats the whole purpose of meditating. If it gets to be too much, then call it a day. For one person, five minutes may be a huge accomplishment. For another it may be an hour. Know you limits and don't force yourself.
Now, there are many types of meditation, and various techniques to choose from. It's important to choose a method that works for you. For more information visit my website:
If you have any family history of psychosis, schizophrenia or bipolar disorder - or have any of these issues yourself - then I'd be more inclined to suggest Mindfulness Meditation - in moderation - to gradually develop an inner observing consciousness, and to become more aware of the inner landscape of your mind and body. Some yogic practices are very powerful and can trigger mania or psychosis in those with a vulnerability to this.
Anyone with persistent suicidal ideation, dissociative episodes, or severe self-critical or disturbing thoughts or unresolved traumatic memories should work with a therapist and/or qualified meditation teacher to provide close guidance and safety. Sometimes intensive meditation can seem to worsen these symptoms before improving them, and can increase the tendency to dissociate more.
Meditation may free you from many self-imposed limitations, fears, and unhealthy attachments, but the results come gradually, and only through regular practice. With practice, the results can be more far reaching than just about anything else you might do for yourself.
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 gentle 15 minute meditations should give you a good start (sorry they're not downloadable at this time):
EFT: A Powerful Self-Help Technique for Depression and Much More...
EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) is a technique of the emerging science"Energy Psychology." I believe that this will become mainstream in the near future and will become one of the finest healing tools of the next century - not just for psychology but for physical medicine as well. Sometimes referred to as "emotional acupuncture," EFT involves the tapping with two fingertips on various acupressure points on the body while focusing on a specific target symptom. The symptom may be a disturbing thought, limiting belief, traumatic memory, body pain (such as a headache), or upsetting emotion. The results are often rapid, complete and permenant.
I myself was quite skeptical at first when I found this technique and it wasn't until I had tried it with a number of my clients and family members, that I started to realize its amazing potential.
It is best, if possible to start by learning from a trained teacher/therapist, but if you don't have access to one, you can learn to apply this technique to yourself.
Know your stressors and your triggers and eliminate or avoid them!
Toxic relationships are among the biggest triggers for folks suffering from the debilitating mood swings of bipolar disorder. Other stressors can be lack of sleep, drug or alcohol abuse, poor diet/nutritional deficiencies, hormonal changes, and even exposure to environmental toxins, to name a few.
Brittany Spears, while extreme and unfortunately sensationalized by the media - is a good example of the explosive and catastrophic effect of a lifestyle out of balance, triggering someone with the predisposition for Bipolar Disorder. The first major trigger (perhaps unforseeable in her case) - was having a child. The hormonal changes and emotional stress of pregancy and childbirth is often the first trigger that manifests symptoms of Bipolar Disorder that were previously dormant. Follow that with media bashing, alcohol, lack of self-awareness and an endless supply of money, and you see the results. It's really not her fault and quite sad to see how much people are judging her, or naively thinking that they can just straighten her out with some tough love. The world has a lot to learn about Bipolar Disorder.
Once the initial triggers have gone off, the snowball starts to gather mass, and if you don't recongize it, and stop it very quickly, you can soon end up with no control, no insight and no rational judgement -- no matter if you are Brittany Spears, or Kay Redfield Jamison (who happens to be one of the most respected professional autorities on Bipolar Disorder - and whose manic episodes certainly rivaled Brittany's, until she figured out how to manage her own illness).
Bipolar Disorder or "manic depression" affects about one in 70 people, across all cultures, and is equal for men and women.
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, getting optimum nutrition for a healthy brain, and building a reliable support system.
During difficult times, I know this may be quite challenging. Being grateful is easy when things are going your way. When things fall apart, we can find ourselves feeling self-pity, resentment, fear and hopelessness. Even so, it is important to find something - anything - to appreciate.
The energy of appreciation or gratitude is very healing and is a far better use of your thoughts than worry or self-criticism or blame. You can choose anything to appreciate: The hot water in your shower, the warmth of the sun, the softness of your pillow, the kindness of a friend. Appreciating the small things will begin to make you a magnet for more positive things in your life.
Success and abundance are never built on an attitude of self-loathing or resentment. When times are bad, make some room in yourself for compassion and self-acceptance, and you will move through it much faster and with less pain, so you can get back to living the life you want.
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.
Be sure to look out for my upcoming e-Book - Natural Cures for Depression - due for release in March!
I value your opinions and your feedback! Please let me know if this newsletter was helpful 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!
Ben Schwarcz, MFT is licensed psychotherapist (#mfc35606) and meditation teacher with a private practice at 3452 Mendocino Avenue, Santa Rosa, CA. He can be reached at 707-326-5566
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.
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