Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Art of Not Being Offended


The Commencement of the Quarrel by John Pettie, 1889 (detail)


When we quarrel, how we wish we had been blameless. - Ralph Waldo Emerson


By Dr. Jodi Prinzivalli

There is an ancient and well-kept secret to happiness which the Great Ones have known for centuries. They rarely talk about it, but they use it all the time, and it is fundamental to good mental health. This secret is called The Fine Art of Not Being Offended. In order to truly be a master of this art, one must be able to see that every statement, action and reaction of another human being is the sum result of their total life experience to date. In other words, the majority of people in our world say and do what they do from their own set of fears, conclusions, defenses and attempts to survive. Most of it, even when aimed directly at us, has nothing to do with us. Usually, it has more to do with all the other times, and in particular the first few times, that this person experienced a similar situation, usually when they were young.


Yes, this is psycho-dynamic. But let’s face it, we live in a world where psycho-dynamics are what make the world go around. An individual who wishes to live successfully in the world as a spiritual person really needs to understand that psychology is as spiritual as prayer. In fact, the word psychology literally means the study of the soul.

All of that said, almost nothing is personal. Even with our closest loved ones, our beloved partners, our children and our friends. We are all swimming in the projections and filters of each other’s life experiences and often we are just the stand-ins, the chess pieces of life to which our loved ones have their own built-in reactions. This is not to dehumanize life or take away the intimacy from our relationships, but mainly for us to know that almost every time we get offended, we are actually just in a misunderstanding. A true embodiment of this idea actually allows for more intimacy and less suffering throughout all of our relationships. When we know that we are just the one who happens to be standing in the right place at the right psycho-dynamic time for someone to say or do what they are doing - we don’t have to take life personally. If it weren’t us, it would likely be someone else.

This frees us to be a little more detached from the reactions of people around us. How often do we react to a statement of another by being offended rather than seeing that the other might actually be hurting? In fact, every time we get offended, it is actually an opportunity to extend kindness to one who may be suffering - even if they themselves do not appear that way on the surface. All anger, all acting out, all harshness, all criticism, is in truth a form of suffering. When we provide no Velcro for it to stick, something changes in the world. We do not even have to say a thing. In fact, it is usually better not to say a thing. People who are suffering on the inside, but not showing it on the outside, are usually not keen on someone pointing out to them that they are suffering. We do not have to be our loved one’s therapist. We need only understand the situation and move on. In the least, we ourselves experience less suffering and at best, we have a chance to make the world a better place.

This is also not to be confused with allowing ourselves to be hurt, neglected or taken advantage of. True compassion does not allow harm to ourselves either. But when we know that nothing is personal, a magical thing happens. Many of the seeming abusers of the world start to leave our lives. Once we are conscious, so-called abuse can only happen if we believe what the other is saying. When we know nothing is personal, we also do not end up feeling abused. We can say, “Thank you for sharing,” and move on. We are not hooked by what another does or says, since we know it is not about us. When we know that our inherent worth is not determined by what another says, does or believes, we can take the world a little less seriously. And if necessary, we can just walk away without creating more misery for ourselves or having to convince the other person that we are good and worthy people.

The great challenge of our world is to live a life of contentment, regardless of what other people do, say, think or believe. The fine art of not being offended is one of the many skills for being a practical mystic. Though it may take a lifetime of practice, it is truly one of the best kept secrets for living a happy life.”

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Sunday, January 18, 2015

Air Travel, Lack of Civility and The Good Thing About Getting Old



The good thing about getting old is that your short term memory does not work very well anymore. You quickly forget the bad things that happen to you. - Mr. Monheim 

Everyone who travels by air has at least one story to tell. Most of the time these are the stories of lost luggage, delays, flight cancellations, obnoxious fellow passengers, or the impertinent cabin staff. We tell the stories because they happened to us. We want to warn our friends to spare them the indignity of spending five days without luggage in Cairo or being stranded for a day in "Timbuktu" only to miss our connecting flight that would have taken us back to civilization if we were lucky enough not to be tricked by our travel agent back home. Most of the stories, though, are less dramatic, but still worth telling and some of them do not even happen to us. 

The story I am about to tell happened only a few days before Christmas in the Business Class of an European airline during the Atlantic crossing. After a meal that wasn't too horrible, most of my fellow passengers went to sleep. Those who sat at the window pulled dawn the window blinds, but a few of us remained awake. Some were reading, others watched movies. 

Just across the aisle a gentleman in his 70s had his window blind open. He was reading a newspaper. He did not even wear reading glasses. I found this quite remarkable. Most of us would probably be able to retain a fairly good vision until old age if we had the discipline to read with natural daylight and tried to stay away from artificial light sources and reading glasses.

My thoughts about aging, perfect vision and reading were interrupted by a rude remark that came from a woman in her 40s who was traveling with her husband and two teenage children. "Hey you! Pull down the blind! I want to sleep!" As it happened, a steward was passing by. The frantic woman asked him, in a voice laud enough, to "tell the senile idiot to pull down the blind." The young man was certainly in shock. He probably was just as shocked as I and the elderly gentleman on the other side of the aisle. What happened next was like a short movie on civility and human misery. The steward asked the elderly gentleman if it was all right to pull down the shade, but before the man could even utter a word, the husband of the frantic woman woke up and shouted even louder: "Tell the old, senile imbecile to pull down the shade! Tell him to turn on the reading light." 

The steward wanted to be diplomatic. He told the couple that this was a daylight flight and no one could be forced to shut the window blind if he did not want to. He offered them sleeping masks. 

One would think that this should have been enough, but no, the couple became even more agitated and wanted to talk to the chief steward. When an uniformed man in his mid-50s arrived, the couple complained very loudly that they could not sleep because "that old senile imbecile kept the window shade open." This, apparently, was scandalous since they paid so much money to travel in the business class and believed they deserved a better treatment.

The couple "spoke" very loud and did not care that they might wake up other passengers. They spoke loud enough so that the elderly gentleman at the window could hear every single abusive word that was addressed to him. He was neither senile nor deaf. He heard everything. 

The couple was indignant. They refused to wear the sleeping masks and demanded that the window blind was shut. The elderly gentleman eventually pulled down the blind. He tried to read for a few minutes with the help of the reading light, but gave up after a short while. His eyes got very tired, I learned later. The couple went to sleep and woke a few hours later as if nothing ever happened. 

The flight was uneventful until landing, but the lack of civility and the verbal brutality of my fellow passengers left me shocked and somehow frustrated. I felt that I needed to talk to that elderly gentleman who was so unjustly abused on the plane. When I caught up with him at the conveyor belt I told him that I was very sorry for what happened to him during the flight. He smiled and said that this experience was indeed very painful, but was happy to be old since old age was a real blessing. His short term memory didn't work very well anymore and he had already forgotten that unpleasant incident. 

So much wisdom! And such a detachment form things that are hurtful or unpleasant. A real Zen mind! 

I am not sure, and there was not time to ask, whether he developed this attitude with growing age, or was that the motto he lived by for the most part of his life. It doesn't matter. What matters is that all of us would be so much happier if only we learned how to detach ourselves from bad experiences and forget them quickly. 

However, if letting go cannot be learned, age will do it for us. And that's the good thing.

By Dominique Allmon

Dominique Allmon©2015

         

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

In the Half-Light of Dusk



In the half-light of dusk 
after the day has prepared 
hard surfaces for inspection 
before the night has plunged 
things back into themselves 
there is a settlement in which 
the external and the internal are 
continuous with the evening air 
if you are alone at the edge 
of shadows you are not alone 
the hours of light shine in you 
with a compacted energy that 
also burns in tree and stone 
partly revealed and partly veiled

By Thomas A. Clark

         

Monday, January 5, 2015

Health Benefits of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh


 Adoration of the Magi by Nikolaus Obilman, ca. 1466

Three Wise Men and Their Precious Gifts

On January 6th Christians all over the world celebrate Epiphany or the arrival and adoration of the Three Wise Men form the East that are also known as the Three Magi or the Three Kings. 

The Three Wise Men are mentioned only in the Gospel of Matthew. Very few details are given about these men in the Bible and much of what we know is left to speculation. The Holy Scripture does not say how many wise men arrived to pay respect to Jesus, but it is generally assumed that there were three visitors, since each brought a gift and there were three gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

In antiquity, these valuable gifts were often given to honor a king or a deity: gold was a valuable commodity, precious in itself, and worthy of a king; frankincense was a rare and precious substance that was burned as an incense; and myrrh was often used as an anointing oil. Ancient inscriptions show that these three items were also among the gifts that King Seleucus II Callinicus offered to the god Apollo at the temple in Miletus in 243 B.C.

Scholars believe that the three gifts also symbolized Christ's identity and his mission on earth: gold symbolized his divinity; frankincense his priestly role and righteousness; and myrrh, being a symbol of bitterness, suffering and affliction, prefigured his sacrificial death and embalming. 

Precious gifts: gold, frankincense and myrrh

There is, however, a different interpretation of the meaning of these three gifts. These three precious substances are known since Antiquity for their healing properties. 


~ Gold ~

The earliest records of medicinal use of gold date back to Ancient Egypt where people ingested gold for mental, spiritual and bodily purification. As far back as 5,000 years ago Egyptian alchemists used liquid gold to make healing elixirs. They believed that gold could invigorate and rejuvenate the body, cure diseases, and help restore perfect health. Ancient Egyptians were also using gold in dentistry. Archeological finds document use of gold in dentistry as early as 2,500 B.C. 

But Ancient Egyptians were not the only ones who used gold for therapeutic purposes. Gold was used in the Traditional Chinese Medicine to restore health and prolong life. To this day peasants in China cook rice with a golden coin in order to profit from its restorative properties. 

Gold was also used therapeutically by the Indian Ayurvedic doctors, by the ancient Tibetans, by the Maya and the Aztecs, by the Arabs and the Persians. The Persian doctor Avicenna prescribed it to strengthen the heart. 

Medieval alchemists created Aurum potabile, a gold essence that was used as a life-giving, rejuvenating, balancing, heal-all potion throughout the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. The process was very laborious and was kept secret. Famous doctors such as Paracelsus and Isaacus Hollandus reported incredibly successful use of Aurum potabile in therapy of many chronic ailments. Medieval doctors also used gold-coated pills to cure arthritis.

Over the ages gold never lost its popularity, but the 19th century brought an entirely different form of gold - the colloidal gold that was first produced in 1857 by British chemist Michael Faraday. Colloidal gold is a suspension of minuscule gold particles (nano-particles) in a fluid, commonly distilled water. In the 19th century colloidal gold was used to improve blood circulation and to cure alcoholism. Today it is often used to reduce dependency on such substances as alcohol, nicotine, caffeine and sugar. 

Colloidal gold seems to have balancing and harmonizing effect on the human body. It can be used to restore libido, enhance the immune function, improve mental focus, and increase overall energy levels. 

Modern cosmetic industry re-discovered the use of gold for beauty. There are records that women in ancient Egypt, China and Rome used gold topically to prevent premature aging and heal skin conditions. Research shows that gold has the capacity to prevent depletion of collagen and the breakdown of elastin, it may help to regenerate healthy skin cells, calm inflammation, and  fight free radicals. 

Gold is non-toxic. It is well tolerated by the body and does not seem to interfere with other medications. 


~ Frankincense ~ 

Frankincense, also known as olibanum, is an aromatic resin obtained from the tree of the genus Boswellia in the family Burseraceae. The tree is native to Oman, Somalia, and Yemen. For ages, the resin was used not only to make perfumes and incense, but also as medicine.


The use of frankincense dates back to ancient Egypt where it was used in sacred ceremonies. Ancient Egyptians believed that frankincense could dispel demons and used the resin for embalming and mummification. They also mixed the resin with honey and chewed it to cure bad breath. 
In Arabia and in Ancient China the resin was used to heal skin conditions, running nose, nausea, and even leprosy.  

Hippocrates used an ointment made from frankincense that could cure many skin conditions, burns, wounds and skin infections. The resin was also used to alleviate digestive problems, expel parasites, cure bronchitis, sore throat, catarrh, and cough, to mention only a few. 

In the Middle Ages, Hildegard of Bingen believed that the scent of frankincense had the power to stimulate the human brain and improve memory. Paracelsus also used frankincense to cure variety of ailments. Both, Hildegard of Bingen and Paracelsus knew about its capacity to cure skin diseases, respiratory diseases, digestive problems and diarrhea. 

During the Middle Ages frankincense was one of the most important remedies used to cure people. Its popularity as a medicine, however, dwindled at the end of the Middle Ages and people in Europe forgot about it. They could still enjoy the scent, though, since frankincense was burned ceremonially in Catholic churches all over Europe. 

Frankincense became popular again in the West in mid-1980s after a German pharmacologist, prof. Phillip Theodor Ammon of Tübingen, brought it back from India where it was part of the Indian materia medica. 


German researchers have discovered that Indian frankincense (Boswellia serrata) was a very effective analgesic and worked wonders against low-level inflammation in the body. There is hope that chronic diseases such as Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, atherosclerosis, asthma, eczema, rheumatoid arthritis, and maybe even cancer, could be successfully treated with frankincense. More research has to be conducted, but what was published so far is quite promising. 


~ Myrrh ~

Myrrh is the very aromatic resin from small, thorny tree species from the genus Commiphora in the family Burseraceae. Myrrh is native to eastern regions of Africa (Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan), and the Arabian Peninsula, especially Oman and Yemen. Since antiquity myrrh was used to make perfume and incense, and like frankincense, it was also used as medicine. Myrrh was highly valued in Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, China, India, Ancient Greece and Rom. 

Ancient Egyptians used myrrh in religious ceremonies and funerals. The resin was used in embalming and mummification, and to heal wounds. 

In Ancient Greece, Hippocrates used myrrh to heal ulcers and wounds. The Romans believed that the scent of myrrh was an aphrodisiac. Roman ladies wore myrrh perfume to attract lovers. 

Myrrh became popular in Ancient China in the 7th century. It was used to heal wounds, to improve blood circulation, treat uterine tumors and other female health problems. 

During the pestilence pandemics in Medieval Europe doctors gave patients decay preventing pills made of myrrh, saffron and aloe. The Arabs used myrrh to cure contagious diseases. 

In Europe myrrh was used to disinfect wounds, reduce pain, and prevent inflammation. It was a popular remedy that could cure cough, bad breath, headaches, digestive problems, jaundice, gout, syphilis and even leprosy. 

Due to the scientific progress of the 19th century and the emergence of modern chemistry and medicine, myrrh became obsolete. 

Thanks to a growing interest in plant-based medicine during the last few decades, however, we have witnessed a comeback of this ancient remedy. Thanks to its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, myrrh is often added to mouthwashes and toothpaste. It is used to disinfect wounds and to reduce inflammation in the mouth, but also to treat asthma, reduce pain, balance blood sugar, balance cholesterol levels, stimulate the immune system, treat systemic candida and fungal infections, improve digestion, and to heal inflammatory diseases of the digestive tract. There is even hope for cancer patients. An ongoing research is being conducted in many parts of the world. 

Both, frankincense and myrrh, are used in Traditional Chinese Medicine and in Ayurveda. For centuries these resins have been used in China and in India. They are an important part of many herbal preparations that are used to treat wide variety of ailments and diseases. 

Essential oils of frankincense and myrrh are used to make costly perfumes. They are also used in aromatherapy, but that, by itself, is a vast subject deserving an entirely new article. 

By Dominique Allmon 


~ Happy Epiphany! ~


*The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only. It is not meant to diagnose or cure disease.

 
      

      


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Three Wise Men and Their Precious Gifts by Dominique Allmon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The New You... And Then What?



New Year's Day. A fresh start. A new chapter in life waiting to be written. New questions to be asked, embraced, and loved. Answers to be discovered and then lived in this transformative year of delight and self-discovery. Today carve out a quiet interlude for yourself in which to dream, pen in hand. Only dreams give birth to change. - Sarah Ban Breathnach

For many people New Year brings hope of change and improvement. New Year's resolutions are being made. We seem to be at a verge of something big and "know" that this year will be different, better than the last. Intuitively we know that this will only be possible if we change our ways.

I read an interesting blog post the other day. The author touches a strange aspect of the personal transformation process: the resistance to your change as experienced by others.

Some of you may have experienced similar situation: something was not working in your life and you decided to change. You worked hard and experienced all the pain of letting go of the old habits and convictions. And you have been promised love and support. But when the new you began to emerge, you have met some form of resistance if not a rejection. And this did not come from within! The very people who offered you their support suddenly seemed to reject the new you. 

So, what happened? Why on earth our friends or our loved ones would want to keep us down? Why would anyone want to prevent us from growing? 

The answer may be simpler than anyone would want to admit. They are afraid that we may become obsolete and want to preserve their status quo. 

When you change you are no longer the predictable loser, procrastinator or the cry-baby they got used to; they are no longer masters of your destiny; you are out of control! Worse. You not only become "unpredictable," you finally can see their own weakness and inadequacy. 

Change may, indeed, be very painful. We have to let go of so many things that were dear to us, including "us." At some point this process may become so painful that we may consider, for an instant, to throw the towel. This is the moment when we are vulnerable and need most love and support to go on. Instead, we get tempted, out of "pure love," to giving up and return to our safety zone. 

Our friends and loved ones wish to spare us the pain, but they also wish to preserve the old status quo where they felt comfortable around us. 

The truth is that in reality we might have been miserable in our safety zone, but we felt safe. We were loved and taken care of. Shouldn't we comply and go back? Tempting, tempting... 

What will happen if you do? What will happen if you don't? 

Those who really love you will give you all their support and allow you to grow. And they will try to evolve with you and learn to accept the change. 

Those who reject your desire for transformation should probably be let go off because with time the relationship may not only become unsatisfying, it may turn toxic and abusive. Do not get involve in their game. They will probably blame you for being heartless and egoistic. You know better. 

If your relationships no longer serve you, you should consider a serious change. The decision is all yours. Brave it!

Dominique Allmon

Dominique Allmon©2015