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Parapsychology: when did science give up on the paranormal?

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Women stress and the mind body connection

Surprising as it may seem, the intimate connection between the mind and the body was not well understood until the closing decades of the last century. In the early 1970’s, for example, a scientific research paper published in Scientific American was one of the first studies to scientifically investigate this connection. That particular paper studied what happened in the body when the mind was in a meditative state. The paper found that as the mind settled down with a specific, effective practice of meditation, the body gained a profoundly deep state of rest. Respiration settled significantly. Stress hormones in the blood were reduced. Skin resistance increased (an indicator of increased physiological relaxation). The paper was a landmark work in the scientific recognition of the mind/body connection.

Also in the 1970’s we were all becoming familiar with the concept of stress. Stress had been with us for a long time of course, but through the work of scientists such as Hans Selye stress was becoming a defined process. Hans Selye, an endocrinologist, became widely recognized as an expert in the field of stress management. Selye defined stress as the body’s nonspecific response to a demand placed on it. For example, if we are home alone and a strange noise is heard in another room, our heart rate may increase and probably our blood pressure too, adrenaline shoots up and our senses become heightened. These physiological changes are the result of what scientists call the fight or flight response. Such ancient mechanisms in the human physiology are meant to prepare one to either ‘fight’ in a challenging situation (e.g. the tiger in the path before us) or to remove oneself from danger. While these mechanisms may be useful in a specific challenge, occurring in the physiology on a sustained basis they can create the basis for a myriad of health problems.

Understanding stress and the close connection between mind and body spawned another level of discovery about health and disease in terms of psychosomatic disorders. Psychosomatic disorders result from the influence that the mind has over physical processes. A psychosomatic disorder is one in which a physical disease is thought to be caused, or made worse, by mental factors. Such physical diseases—including skin disorders, cardiovascular problems, respiratory disorders, and disturbances of the nervous system including multiple sclerosis—can be particularly aggravated by mental factors such as stress and anxiety.

Women are particularly susceptible to stress. Their lives are challenged by special stressors. Women often care for others much more than they care for themselves. They may push themselves hard in the juggling of professional and personal lives. Stress in women is also often caused by the constant array of hormonal changes occurring in the female physiology. It is important for women to understand how to maintain balance: how to nurture the connection between mind and body, and to avoid the accumulation of stress that can break this vital connection. To prevent the onset of psychosomatic disorders and to avoid the deleterious effects of stress, women can only gain by fostering a healthy mind/body connection.

-Lesley Goldman

Stress Reduction

Read More: Women stress and the mind body connection – Stress articles – Messaggiamo.Com

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How Meditation Has Changed My Life

By Karen Hood-caddy

Every week day for the past 2 years, I’ve done a daily practice with others virtually. Here’s how it works. I call the others on the phone, then one of us rings a bell to start and then again at the end, after 30 minutes. When we’re done, we each wish each other a wonderful day and go about our business.

During the 30 minutes, we each do our own practice. Sometimes I do all mindfulness meditation, sometimes I add in some meridian tapping and at times I’ve done some energy work on myself during the half hour. I always state my intention for who I want to be as the day unfolds.

Having this daily practice has probably been the most significant factor in helping me be my best. I never would have stuck with it so consistently if others hadn’t been involved. Just knowing others were waiting for my call each day made all the difference. We’ve been going for 2 years now and I can really see how it’s changed me.

Here’s what I notice:

  • Instead of helping me ‘get away from it all’, my practice helps me to show up for it all. I’m clearer about who I am, so I’m not so rocked by the world and others. I can let WAY more of life in and just BE with situations that before would have been very stressful or difficult.
  • It gives me a daily reminder of a bigger picture of myself and who I am as a spiritual being. Instead of reacting like a pinball machine to things in my life, I actually feel as if I have choices.
  • I feel healthier than ever. No colds or flu this year….
  • Since I review my intentions every day, I am much more likely to act in congruence with them during the day after this reminder.
    Having a daily practice has been very rich and rewarding and I heartily encourage people to design one for themselves and then create the support to make it happen.

About the Author

My passion is to help professionals who are tired to letting their personal problems and limitations stop them from having a deeply fulfilling life.

Visit my website at

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The Alchemist and the Sacredness of Following Your Dreams

The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho, is an inspirational fable about a Spanish shepherd, Santiago, who sets out on a quixotic quest to find a treasure at the Egyptian pyramids. Along the way he learns various spiritual lessons.

Read More: The Alchemist and the Sacredness of Following Your Dreams

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Hindus concerned at Hindu temple vandalism in Ontario

Radha (right) - Krishna (left), surrounded by ...

Radha (right) – Krishna (left), surrounded by gopis, in Mayapur Chandradoya Mandir, 2005 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Special to

Hindus are highly concerned after reports of vandalism of Shri Ram Dham Hindu Temple in Kitchener in Ontario (Canada).

There were reports of smashing of windows of Shri Ram Dham Hindu Temple on November 15 night by vandals with large rocks.

Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that it was shocking for the hard-working, harmonious and peaceful Hindu community of Canada and worldwide; who had made lot of contributions to Canada and the world; to receive such signals of hatred and anger.

Rajan Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, urged administration for swift action; and Ontario Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne to contact the Kitchener area Hindu community to reassure them.

Shri Ram Dham Hindu Temple, whose tagline is “Wisdom Love Service”, opens and conducts two aartis daily, has services on Sundays-Tuesdays-Thursdays and organizes festivals-kirtan-discourses-special services year round. It contains the murtis of Hindu deities of Sita Ram, Radha Krishna, Shiv Parvati, Durgaa Maa, Ganesh and Hanuman. It offers classes in yoga, Sanskrit, Bharatnatyam and vegetarian cooking; Hindu culture course and yoga camp for kids; and consultation on spiritual-religious issues and rituals. Chaitanya Jyoti and Haripriya Parivrajika are Head Preacher and Preacher respectively.


Is Islam incompatible with modernity?

Asma Afsaruddin, Indiana University, Bloomington

In the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks, political leaders have lined up to denounce the acts as inhuman and uncivilized, unworthy of our day and age.

French President Francois Hollande denounced them as “a barbaric act,” while President Obama called them “an attack on the civilized world.”

Unfortunately, the horrific actions of ISIS – done in the name of Islam – often get attributed to Muslims as a whole. There is the underlying assumption that there must be some core aspect of the religion that is at fault, that the religion is incompatible with modernity.

It hasn’t helped that some non-Muslim thinkers have conflated ISIS with mainstream Islam. They’ll often point to ISIS’ desire to return civilization to the seventh century as further proof that Islam – and its followers – are backwards.

Yet many leading Muslim thinkers are going to some of Islam’s earliest texts to actually promote reform. Contained within these texts are ideas many consider progressive: peaceful coexistence, the acceptance of other religions, democratic governance and women’s rights.

Indeed, Islam and modernization need not be at odds with one another. And in the aftermath of tragedy, it’s important to not lose sight of this.

A single model of modernity?

The question is posed, time and again: will Muslims ever be able to reform and modernize and join the 21st century?

Yet the subtext is almost always that the Western paradigm of modernity – the one that developed in the aftermath of the Protestant Reformation, that firmly embraced secularism and the (sometimes ferocious) marginalization of religion – is the only one worthy of emulation. Muslims, the thinking goes, have no choice but to adopt it themselves.

However some scholars have increasingly challenged the notion of a single model of modernity. According to them, there’s no reason that religion and modernization must inevitably be at odds with one another for all societies and for all time.

In 16th-century Europe, the priesthood had achieved considerable wealth and political power by often allying themselves with local kings and rulers. The Protestant reformers, therefore, regarded the Church as an impediment to political empowerment.

But Muslims, due to their unique religious history, continue to view their religion as an ally in their attempts to come to terms with the changed circumstances of the modern world.

Muslim religious scholars (ulama) never enjoyed the kind of centralized and institutionalized authority that the medieval European church and its elders did. The ulama – from the eighth century’s al-Hasan al-Basri to the 20th century’s Ayatullah Khomeini – traditionally distanced themselves from political rulers, intervening on behalf of the populace to ensure social and political justice.

Such an oppositional role to government prevented the emergence of a general popular animosity directed at them, and by extension, toward Islam.

For this reason, today’s Muslim thinkers feel no imperative to distance themselves from their religious tradition. On the contrary, they are plumbing it to find resources therein to not only adapt to the modern world, but also to shape it.

Islam turned on its head

Yet 21st-century Muslim religious scholars have a challenging task. How can they exhume and popularize principles and practices that allowed Muslims in the past to coexist with others, in peace and on equal terms, regardless of religious affiliation?

Such a project is made more urgent by the fact that extremists in Muslim-majority societies (ISIS leaders currently foremost among them) vociferously reject this as impossible. Islam, they declare, posits the superiority of Muslims over everyone else. Muslims must convert non-Muslims or politically subjugate them.

As a result, many have accused these extremists of trying to return Muslim-majority societies to the seventh century.

If only that were true!

If these extremists could actually be transported miraculously back to the seventh century, they would learn a thing or two about the religion they claim to be their own.

For starters, they would learn to their chagrin that seventh-century Medina accepted Jews as equal members of the community (umma) under the Constitution of Medina drawn up by the prophet Muhammad in 622 CE. They would also learn that seventh-century Muslims took seriously the Qur’anic injunction (2:256) that there is to be no compulsion in religion and that specific Qur’anic verses (2:62 and 5:69) recognize goodness in righteous Christians and Jews.

Most importantly, fire-breathing extremists would learn that peaceful non-Muslim communities cannot be militarily attacked simply because they are not Muslim. They would be reminded that only after 12 years of nonviolent resistance would the Prophet Muhammad and his companions resort to armed combat or the military jihad. And even then it would only be to defend themselves against aggression.

The Qur’an, after all, unambiguously forbids Muslims from initiating combat. Qur’an 2:190 states, “Do not commit aggression,” while Qur’an 60:8 specifically asserts:

God does not forbid you from being kind and equitable to those who have neither made war on you on account of your religion nor driven you from your homes; indeed God loves those who are equitable.

Extremist groups like ISIS are often accused of being scriptural literalists and therefore prone to intolerance and violence. But when it comes to specific Qur’anic verses like 2:256; 60:8 and others, it’s clear that they cherry-pick which passages to “strictly” interpret.

Going to the source

Not surprisingly, Muslim reformers are returning to their earliest religious sources and history – the Qur’an and its commentaries, reliable sayings of Muhammad, early historical chronicles – for valuable guidance during these troubled times.

And much of what we regard as “modern, progressive values” – among them religious tolerance, the empowerment of women, and accountable, consultative modes of governance – can actually be found in this strand of Muslims’ collective history.

Like 16th-century Christian reformers, Muslim reformers are returning to their foundational texts and mining them for certain moral guidelines and ethical prescriptions. For one reason or another – political upheaval, war, ideological movements – many had been cast aside. But today they retain particular relevance.

As a result, the reformers are distinguishing between “normative Islam” and “historical Islam,” as the famous Islam scholar Fazlur Rahman has phrased it.

But unlike the earlier Christian reformers, Muslim reformers are hardly ever left alone to conduct their project of reform. Their efforts are constantly stymied by intrusive outsiders, particularly non-Muslim Western cultural warriors who encroach on the Muslim heartlands – militarily, culturally and, above all, intellectually.

Such a multipronged assault was particularly evident during George W Bush’s presidency, during which the neoconservatives championed a “clash of civilizations” between the West and the Islamic world, a theory popularized by political scientist Samuel Huntington.

Western Muslim reformers are not immune to this onslaught, either. They are frequently derided by self-styled “expert” outsiders for subscribing to what they characterize as newfangled beliefs like democracy, religious tolerance and women’s rights. According to these “experts,” there is supposedly no grounding or room for these beliefs in their religious texts and tradition.

One wonders how effective Martin Luther would have been in 16th-century Europe if he had to constantly deal with non-Christian “experts” lecturing him about Christianity’s true nature.

Meanwhile, there are a number of pundits who are eager to tie the actions of Islamist terrorists to mainstream religious doctrine.

Journalist Graeme Wood’s alarmist article in The Atlantic is a most recent example of such intrusive punditry.

“The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic,” he wrote. “…the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam.”

Caner Dagli, a well-known scholar of Islam, rejected Woods’ argument:

All of this puts Muslims in a double bind: If they just go about their lives, they stand condemned by those who demand that Muslims “speak out.” But if they do speak out, they can expect to be told that short of declaring their sacred texts invalid, they are fooling themselves or deceiving the rest of us.

Despite such formidable challenges, reformist efforts continue unabated in learned Muslim circles. Sometimes crises and the subsequent marshaling of moral and intellectual resources can bring out the best in an individual and in a community.

The Qur’an (94:6) promises that “Indeed with hardship comes ease.” Committed Muslim reformers who take the Qur’an’s injunctions seriously (unlike the extremists) are working toward the easing of current circumstances of hardship – and calling on others to help, not impede, them in this global human endeavor.

The Conversation

Asma Afsaruddin, Professor of Islamic Studies and former Chairperson, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, Indiana University, Bloomington

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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Finding happiness without seeking

supreme happiness

supreme happiness (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Ankush Chauhan

Mostly we look for happiness in the outside world. What we do not know is that it lies inside us. In our own mind lies the secret to be happy.

I am a Zen master and I help people find happiness. A happiness which is not the opposite of sadness. Here in this article you will find the secret to my happiness which does not depend on outside situations.

We attach too much importance to the outside world. For an average person, things like a posh house, a well-paying job, a successful business, money, car etc. are the source of their happiness.

If they do not get it, they are unhappy. As simple as that. They have made themselves dependent on those things. In other words, they are attached.

According to Buddha, the reason for all troubles is ‘attachment’. Attachment to things, people, objects etc. bring sadness/unhappiness.

The interesting thing is that we spend almost 99 percent of our lives looking for happiness. And we believe that we are going to get it by chasing money, chasing success etc.

Whatever we do chasing those things, brings a lot of tension and unhappiness in our lives.

The more we exert ourselves seeking those things that we ‘think’ will bring happiness, the more we find ourselves in depression.


Here is the Zen buddhist approach:

Accept everything in your life. A total acceptance of everything: good, bad, ugly, beautiful, pain, pleasure is needed.

As soon as you start accepting everything that comes your way, you will live in the moment.

Living in the moment will bring about real happiness. The reason why it is called ‘PRESENT’ is that this moment you are living now is a Gift from nature/God.

The present moment is a gift. Once you begin cherishing everything in it, you will discover real happiness.

All the energy of the universe is concentrated on THIS moment now. Once you discover the hidden energy by living in the present moment, you will get everything you want.

Then your life be truly happy and blissful.

Fore more on this, read:

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Ankush Chauhan is a Zen master who helps people realize the bliss in this moment! He blogs about his meditative experiences.

Hailing from a middle class family, Ankush now works full time helping people realize the Buddha that they are. The aim of Ankush is to bring more and more people to the world of bliss and joy that is the result of spiritual awakening.


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