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The Paleo Diet (for the mind)

For those who are not familiar with the term, the “Paleo Diet” is recent nutritional trend that has participants eat only what was available to humans during the Paleolithic era. The idea is basically that instead of consuming the mass processed food we have become accustomed to, we as humans should be eating what is provided for us naturally, before food became a business.

Do what we as humans are supposed to do naturally and we will be healthier. This makes sense.

Coincidentally, at the time I was told of this diet I had been exploring a similar idea in relation to happiness. This thought process began when I read an article that related routines to being happy.

Working in the service industry I had never really had a traditional routine, and was quite okay with that. Yet during one month long training I got a taste of the dreaded “9 to 5” I had heard so much about – and couldn’t help but to notice I actually enjoyed it.

As it turns out, being in a routine is human nature, stemming most fundamentally from the cycle of day and night, which before electricity dictated the daily routine of almost all humans. It is natural for us to be in a routine, even more specifically one that coincides with the daylight, so it is no wonder why this felt so comfortable.

http://intentblog.com/routines-secret-happiness/

From here I thought about what else humans are naturally supposed to do, and I came up with the following list.

exercise

We used to have to hunt and forage for food, walk where we wanted to go, and physically build things we needed. And while we rarely have to do those things now,  we still need the exercise that used to be the by-product of these activities, the benefits of which range from physical health to the release of energy and mood boosting endorphins.

http://www.pursuit-of-happiness.org/science-of-happiness/exercise/

eat healthy

Yes, the original “Paleo Diet” does fit into the “Paleo Diet (for the mind)”. Nutrition is of course more directly related to our physical state, but just as mental tension can manifest in our muscles and appearance, the reverse is also true, with our physical state and health often affecting the way we think. This being said we should probably stop eating things like polydimethylsiloxane (which gives texture to both silly puddy and McDonalds fish filet).

http://www.energyofmindtherapy.com/body-mind-connection/common-sense-eating-for-health-and-happiness/

time alone

Do you remember what we used to do we had nothing to do? Neither do I. But I think there was something called down time where people just relaxed (the is the time we now spend on Facebook). It is no secret that even a small amount of time spent in quiet reflection each day is key for personal growth. This used to be built into our daily lives by default, in the simple absence of the TVs, cell phones, tablets, and computers which now run our existance. And while this web based article is surely not implying we need to discard the many wifi capable devices in our lives, we do need to acknowledge that time spent away from them is natural and important, and if it does not already exist in our daily routine then we must make time for it.

http://mentalhealthnews.org/happiness-linked-to-more-alone-time/84732/

time with others

Like anything (and everything) in life it is all about balance. And your alone time should be balanced by time with others. In the past this was never an issue, seeing as humans are naturally communal and whether it was your family, tribe, or village you were constantly surrounded by others. Only relatively recently has modern technology made it possible for everyday people to survive while living in almost complete isolation – and this is not a good thing. Even people who like being alone, whether a phase or a personality trait, need to make a conscious effort to be around people in order to maintain a healthy social skills and connection with others. We are social beings by nature and embracing that is important.

http://www.cfsv.org/communitysurvey/results4.html

http://www.happiness-project.com/happiness_project/2009/03/happiness-myth-no-9-spending-some-time-alone-will-make-you-feel-better.html

contribute

This didn’t used to be an option. You lived in a community, you had a role, and that was that. This likely created a focus which not only left less time to think about endeavors of excess and personal pleasure, but also gave your life a built in sense of purpose and accomplishment that was reinforced each day. Lethargy and inaction was not an option.

http://www.hindu.com/mp/2006/01/14/stories/2006011400280200.htm

http://advancedlifeskills.com/blog/is-productivity-the-key-to-happiness/

enjoy

Despite the obvious fact that paleolithic life was harsh, difficult, and well … short, I actually assume there was also quite a bit of enjoyment in day to day life. We often forget that excess and comfort are not per-requisites for happiness, as can be seen in studies which compare happiness and poverty. Additionally, in the absence of forcefed media images of wealth and grandeur, individuals were likely much less obsessed with personal gain the way we are today. Not only allowing them to keep a grounded perspective on life and appreciate the little things, but also preventing them from frantically working themselves to an even earlier grave to get to somewhere better. People enjoyed the moment and worked to live, not the other way around.

http://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S15/15/09S18/index.xml?section=topstories

http://tallantcounseling.com/the-importance-of-fun-in-our-lives/

volunteer

In much earlier eras of humanity helping those less fortunate was not something you had to create time for. The children, the sick, and the elderly in your family or village were cared for by you or no one, and that was simply a part of daily life. But as society became more complex and our roles became more specialized certain people were designated for these tasks. And while no one should be looked down upon for taking on a role that doesn’t directly help people, the further removed you are from working with people who are less fortunate, the less likely you are getting the humility, perspective, and joy that comes with helping. So whether it is weekly, monthly, annually, or you just being on the lookout for little opportunities to help people, make volunteering part of your life.

http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/health/wellness/health-benefits-of-volunteering

conclusion

Don’t try to be happy. You can’t make yourself happy any more than you can make yourself feel love or stop worrying. What you can do is make changes in your life which are more likely to give rise to happiness. And seeing as inner contentness is our most fundamental state,  living a way that is more in line with how we as humans were naturally intended to live will create a balance that will give you just that.

Review of Messages From the Masters

This book resonated with me on many levels. The depth which Dr. Weiss has reached into the spiritual realm is awe-inspiring and the simple fact that someone so revered in traditional medicine has made this transcendence, and had the strength to follow his intuition despite countless obstacles, is a true gift to us all.

The book also contains many excellent resources, most notably the “Shared Spiritual Values” section in Appendix A, which concisely documents the many parallels between major religions, a project which has great potential to open minds and is long overdue.

This being said, a list of the things that most of us (those who are interested in spirituality) agree on is not terribly necessary (nor would it be terribly interesting). So for the purpose of this entry I would like to offer a few questions.

There were two concepts which I had trouble with. And it should be noted up front that these concepts were not overly emphasized in the book, and were only a small fraction of the book compared with the many other aspects I wholeheartedly agreed with. That being said the following ideas confused me.

1) we are constantly evolving souls, and we go through each life to learn specific lessons (p.11, 56,)

2) we are karmically accountable for our actions, and will face repercussions (p. 147)

I do not outright disagree with these concepts, only because I do not claim to understand (or confirm the existence of) any dimensions beyond our own. I have received no messages from masters, and rely only on other spiritual books and my own intuition as my guide.

But they both seem like very human concepts.

Especially in the example of karmic accountability. The idea that people will be punished for wrong doing implies that there is an objective right and wrong. This would surprise me, seeing as even among humans, all but the most close minded people understand the myriad of gray area that exists regarding right and wrong.

It should be noted that in another section (p. 55) this process was described more in depth and involved both the spirits needing to agree on terms for resolution and returning to life together to solve such issues, basically implying that this process is much more complex than the upholding of specific laws. Even still the issue of definitively deciding whether certain actions are good or bad seems far too abstract, and would never have a clear answer.

Would child soldiers who have been enslaved and taught to kill since they were toddlers be punished? What about an individual who kills to defend an innocent child’s life? Would these people face consequences, or are some murders forgivable while others are not? I don’t claim to have an answer, it just seems odd for transcendent beings to be talking about repercussions for earthly actions.

Equally as interesting is the idea of linear achievement, specifically that we are here to learn something specific that we need to know. While I personally agree that we are “spiritual beings having a human experience” (p. 188), the idea that certain lessons need to be learned as steps in a process implies some type of goal that we are striving towards. This wouldn’t be the most uncomfortable thought, but I do think the concept of personal “achievement” is one that is overemphasized in our society, and must be lessened in order for peace to be obtained. For this reason it would surprise me if the the purpose of the spiritual realm would be to acquire a certain standing by learning lessons one at a time.

To digress slightly I think what this may be an example of something we have seen throughout human history, which is that when a culture is presented with a concept they are not capable of fully understanding they have no option but to describe it using the terms of their own limited frame of reference. The resulting description will never be an exactly accurate description, but will suffice for the purpose of describing the phenomenon. This is why things like aurora borealis were explained in earlier cultures as “torches in the sky” or “dancing lights”, as opposed “lights caused by the collision of energetically charged particles with atoms in the high altitude atmosphere”.

That being said, using the notions of write vs. wrong and a scale of linear achievement seems a bit dangerous, seeing as both of these concepts can easily be misunderstood. Specifically these ideas can and have been used to validate concepts such as a objective morality and merit based salvation, both of which have been used by traditional religious institutions to substantiate such atrocities as the “inquisition” and the sale of “indulgences” to absolve people’s sins.

This is a sharp contrast to the much simpler and more abstract realization of enlightenment and peace that many of those interested in these concepts have become accustomed to. One where we simply exist, where we understand the complexity of the Source/God/Life/Being is beyond our complete comprehension, and instead of fighting this we simply embrace the fact that we are a part of it, abiding by the parts of it we do understand, such as love and peace.

For me, the indefinability feels much more accurate.

Especially when contrasted to the idea that we are on a life-by-life stepping stone towards some spiritual goal and our good and bad deeds are being constantly evaluated by superior spiritual beings.

And while I am not saying I disagree, it feels like we are trying to understand something we are simply not capable of understanding by attaching a human concept to it.

Or perhaps the next dimension is more like our own than I thought.

Like I said, I have spoken with no masters and offer no answers.

Best quote from the book:

“A human being is part of the whole we call the universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest – a kind of optical illusion of his consciousness. This illusion is a prison for us, restricting us to our personal desired and for affection for only the few people nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison, by widening our circle of compassion, to embrace all living things and all of nature.”

– Albert Einstein

Role of Giving

As a youngster I remember thinking about two philosophies on life.

One was from a friend, who was by no means a selfish or a bad person, but simply thought life was meant to be enjoyed as much as possible.

Contrasting this I would think about the other side of spectrum, and those who say the sole purpose of life is to help others.

I generally tended to agree with the latter, but was never exactly sure why – other than the fact that all things seemed very trivial compared to helping others. But I was never completely sure I wasn’t being naive.

I now look at things a little differently, and see the purpose of life as simply existing in as much harmony as possible, a state which is achieved by living a healthy balanced life. This means not only helping others, but taking time to enjoy the many wonderful things this world has to offer. I feel like this is the best way to live, in that it provides the best balance of fulfillment and enjoyment

This being said, I think you can still enjoy life if all you do is try to help others, but you cannot help others if all you do is try to enjoy life. And by trying to simply enjoy life you will lack balance, defeating your effort before it begins.

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