Spirit

Words of Wisdom (Part 5): Gibran

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Words of Wisdom
concludes with Lebanese poet, artist, writer, and philosopher Kahlil Gibran. Best known for his sprawling work of romantic prose-poetry written in both Arabic and English, Gibran presents the essence of wise words. In the English-speaking  parts of the world he is most recognized as the author of the 1923 book The Prophet. This collection of prophetic poetry was big in the 1930s, then again in the 1960s counterculture movement, and has gained increasing popularity to the present. It seems his words speak a fundamental truth now seen timeless across decades, generations, and cultures. Perhaps the phrasing of words or the spaces that lie between words carry such messages of universalism, community, romanticism, and values. All in all for words of wisdom Kahlil Gibran is the real deal.

SJC Wellness Top Five Quotes by Kahlil Gibran:

#5: “In one drop of water are found all the secrets of all the oceans; in one aspect of You are found all the aspects of existence.”
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#4:
“If the teacher is indeed wise he does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom, but rather leads you to the threshold of your own mind.”
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#3:
“That which seems most feeble and bewildered in you is the strongest and most determined.”
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#2:  “Yesterday is but today’s memory, tomorrow is today’s dream.”
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#1: “All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life’s heart.”

**In ending I hope these words have brought to you all that they could in all that you are.**

Photo by: sirusputsch
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Words of Wisdom (Part 4): Aurelius

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Deemed the “philosopher king,” 2nd century emperor of Rome Marcus Aurelius is one of the most well recognized stoic philosophers to date. In his most famous work Meditations, Aurelius explored through verses written to himself the deeper levels of one’s individuality, purpose, and benevolence. When we think of Roman emperors we usually think of decadent megalomaniacs, dramatic assassinations, or Russell Crowe fighting off tigers and the corruption of Joaquin Phoenix. Marcus Aurelius however spent much of his time studying and writing. As one of the last “good emperors” of Rome before its inevitable collapse, he maintained stability, peace, and freedom of expression of the people. His words written millennium ago are still cited in commencement speeches, yearbooks, intro to philosophy courses, and right here on his page.

SJC Wellness Top Five Quotes by Marcus Aurelius:

#5: “When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.”
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#4: “He who lives in harmony with himself lives in harmony with the universe.”
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#3: “Regain your senses, call yourself back, and once again wake up. Now that you realize that only dreams were troubling you, view this ‘reality’ as you view your dreams.”
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#2: “Humans have come into being for the sake of each other, so either teach them, or learn to bear them.”
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#1: “Look within, for within is the wellspring of virtue, which will not cease from flowing, if you do not cease from digging.”

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Words of Wisdom (Part 1): Rumi

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We begin this five part series of powerful and inspiring Words of Wisdom with 13th century mystic-poet-scholar Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Balkhī, a.k.a Rumi. The poetry of this widely known Persian has been translated into pretty much every language possible. What makes Rumi distinct is the timelessness of his work and influence across a massive array of ethnicities, cultures, and national borders for seven centuries and counting. Though noted as Sunni Muslim, Rumi’s expression of universiality and spiritual evolution resonates through both eastern and western cultures.

SJC Wellness Top Five Quotes by Rumi:

#5: “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”

#4: “You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop.”

#3: “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”

#2: “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”

#1: “Water, stories, the body, all the things we do, are mediums that hide and show what’s hidden.”

What are your favorite Rumi quotes? Write them down. Share them. Read more about Rumi. Read some of Rumi’s poems.

picture credit: John White, npr.org

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Power of Words II…Approaching 2015

7416282758_cc82ba047b_mAs we approach 2015 cognizant of this great energy that resides within the power of our words, let us continue to dive deeper into this ocean of understanding via reflection…

Ask yourself:

What words am I holding on to that hold me back?
What words belong to the “old me”?
What words shall I now release from my life?

What words do I want to bring into my life?
What words will represent what I want the this year to be like?
What words will project who I want to be?

                      What kind of words represent the world I want to live in?
                     What words help rid this world of fear and hatred?
                    What words will expand my capacity to experience love and compassion?

Take time to acknowledge all of your words, the positive, the negative, the neutral, and allow this to serve as a context for understanding the impact on self, others, and the world at large…understanding the power of words in the last year and what words to consciously utilize in the year to come…

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The Power of Our Words

Where do your words come from when you speak? Could they be of a place inside yourself? “Today I feel funny. Funny all over.” Could they originate from an external source? “YOLO.” Perhaps both? “I can’t even begin to describe the literally insane feeling of the funny I feel.” The specific words, discourse, tone and so forth may be adopted from all sorts of places to form what you are saying; but, there is something else, something much more personal behind everything said.

The deeply personal aspect behind everything said may not be what is said specifically. For example, the question: “Do you want some of this macaroni salad?” is not too personal. Rather what is personal is found behind your choice to say something, anything. You made a choice to communicate from a unique process found within yourself. From the root developmental essence of our survival we have each individually utilized the shared capability to learn to communicate. We all do it a bit differently using our own experiences, references, biological structure, environment and on it goes. But we all do it. And we can connect to it. And we can connect through it. And with this individually developed personalized mechanism vesseled by our own construct of choices within the sea of a collective with shared responses and recourse we can communicate.  To have such a personal stake in such a universal space – well that is the power of our words.

2014 was full of tumult and change. Simply turn on the news channel or flip open a newspaper. There is a lot of “stuff” going on due to what I postulate as a series of unfortunate events (shout-out to Lemony Snicket fans) coupled by a series of a lack in understanding. Understanding is more than knowing what is right and wrong intellectually. It consists of a multifaceted combination of the mind, the body, the spirit, and the environment. Understanding others requires a frame of reference, something to base off of or to hold in contrast. Understanding others requires that we understand ourselves.

Let us then approach 2015 in a way to uncover greater understanding. Let us together explore, discover, rediscover, and dive deeper into those pools of understanding.

Below is a great example of an individual, by the name of Shane Koyczan, communicating through the power of our words.

Video source: Words Aloud

Post Script: I tend to go into and focus on a lot of challenging topics. Sometimes my descriptions and word choices get a bit funky in these abstract concepts. Feel free to comment in the comment section if you would like me to explain something further or to provide a more clear picture of what it is I am saying . I also encourage feedback, reflections, corrections, and requests for topics for future posts! So get commenting!

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Celebrate Waves of Kindness Day!

7416282758_cc82ba047b_mWaves of Kindness is a global initiative that was created in 1988 to help bring focus and awareness on kind acts despite the daily bustle of work, family, money, health and other stressors.  November 13 of every year is a day where people are asked to slow down and focus on acts of kindness that come from a place of love and humanity.  Asking people to slow down can be a daunting task as we live in a world that is fast paced and time focused, filled with to do lists, schedules and planners.  Even relaxation has to be scheduled in just so that we can regroup and refocus on taking care of ourselves.

The goal of today is to partake in a kind act, which will then lead the next person to participate and so on, so that kindness, love and respect can reach each and every person around the world.  If you would like to learn more about creating waves of kindness, please click on the link here.  Information on how this project got started, how you can participate, as well as upcoming events are all listed on the website.  Let’s take time to slow down on our busy day and focus on one kind act that we can pass onto others.

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5 Stellar Words that are Wonderfully Magnificent

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Looking to spice up your verbiage paradigm? Try out these kick-ass words the next time you find yourself meandering the downpouring word expanse:

petrichor – the distinct scent that accompanies the first rain after a long warm dry spell.

halcyon – 1. calm and peaceful; tranquil. 2. prosperous; golden.

intertwingularity – the complexity of interrelations in human knowledge (see Ted Nelson).

sempiternal – 1. enduringforever; eternal. 2. having no known beginning and presumably no end.

sonder  the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own – populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness – an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground,  with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.

 

SOURCES: Dictionary.com ; Not-sad.blogspot.com ; Dictionaryofobscuresorrows.com

PHOTOSOURCE: Somatmika.blogspot.com

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Planet Earth

Suppose I asked
you “when is your birthday?” After
all, it is a day set aside for celebrating your life
here on Earth. I am sure you would answer rather
quickly.  But what if I asked you “what day is Earth Day?”
Why
such a day is set aside celebrating peace,prosperity and
the planet as a whole… celebrating the Earth, which allows for your
birthday to be a thing. It allows for you to be a thing. The Earth – just
a mass of stuff. But a very particular arrangement  of stuff. So particular
and specific in fact, that on this mass of stuff,  moving at cataclysmic
speeds around a giant nuclear-fire-ball hurdling through the chasms
of oblivious space about a dark pit of  massiveness to which light
cannot even escape yet here this arrangeme
nt is where there
is such a thing as water, cells, organisms, plants, animals,
people, our minds… amongst this chaos, upon
this mass of particular stuff that we call
Earth…
we can exist. We
can say Life is.

So let us celebrate why we have birthdays at all. Tomorrow, April 22nd, is Earth Day. 

Enjoy the Earthy video from Robert Revol:

 

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The Mental Benefits of Prayer

Religion has played a large role in most civilizations, starting right when the earliest people settled in the Fertile Crescent. Over the centuries, different cultures have viewed religion in different lights. Some people turned to religion out of fear and prayed in the hopes that their devotion to God would reduce the likelihood of natural disasters or illness. Other groups of people believed in a higher power because there was no other possible explanation for recent odd occurrences, like strange lines appearing in rocks, or bizarre objects shooting through the sky. And, of course, many people pray to God because believing in something makes them feel safe and protected.

In the modern world, there are still many cultures that are deeply intertwined with religious beliefs. The United States was founded on the idea of Religious Freedom, which allows everyone living here to practice their religion however they’d like. While we are very fortunate to live in a nation that allows us the freedom to choose what religious path we would like to take, many people have just decided to abandon religion altogether. Sure, that is their perogative, but they may be missing out on several important health benefits.

Religious customs traditionally involve some sort of prayer, which is defined as “a solemn request for help or a declaration of thanks addressed to God or an object of worship.” The definition itself supports the teachings of one of SJC’s English Professors, Marc Ricciardi. He often explained that prayer can be used to either ask God for help in a time of need or to thank Him for the good things in your life. Both can be extremely beneficial for the mind and spirit. Asking for help can make one feel that there is hope, and that it is possible to get through even the most difficult situations. Simply expressing gratitude for the fortunate things in life can be uplifting and even help produce a smile.

For the skeptic readers, I just want to point out that it is not just the nuns and monks saying that prayer is healthy. Even medical resources like WebMD and the Mayo Clinic have numerous articles on the mental and medical benefits of spirituality, noting that spiritual beliefs and prayer can help reduce stress and even increase the chances of recovering from a serious illness.

Many people shy away from prayer because they don’t feel connected to a specific “religion.” Notice that the definition of prayer does not make any reference to a certain faith, and even includes the option of praying to an object rather than a God. Don’t believe in Jesus? Pray to God in general, a different God from an Eastern faith (Shiva, for example), or simply focus on Light, Energy, or Breath and Life. Just experiment with it. The next time you are feeling down, see if taking a few moments to have faith in some sort of higher energy can help you get through it. Or, of course, take some time to send some gratitude for any of your good fortunes into the universe.

If you are interested in learning more, read up on the the benefits of Prayer from Web MD or see what the Mayo Clinic has to say about Spirituality and Stress Relief.

Note: Definition of Prayer used here came from Google. There are many variations of the definition. Feel free to check out others and see if you connect to one!

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Are You a Product of the Environment, or is the Environment a Product of You?

There is a great deal of issues going on in the world today. From economic instability to political unrest, violent uprisings to climate change. With the tumultuous times, it is imperative that we establish a will to understand and change for the betterment of the systems in which we live. These systems range from our individual relationships we have with ourselves and others, up to the sociopolitical structures that shape the currents for how we function together.

However, there is arguably one system that supersedes all others: the natural environment.  Every product, every mode of transportation, every electronic interaction, every meal and so on is directly impacted by and directly impacts the environment on some scale. With everything we do, there is some form of environmental relation. Multiply the singular impact of one form of relation with the amount of people involved, and man-oh-man does it build up.

Take the impact of plastic for example. We should all be aware of the massive “plastic soup” drifting around our oceans. In some studies it is said that the amount of marine debris floating around in the oceans is approximately 80% plastic (2013). Here are some facts from PlaticOceans website (2010): According to water filtration company Brita, Americans throw away 35 billion plastic water bottles every year. Packaging is the largest end use market segment accounting for just over 40% of total plastic usage (Plastics Europe). Annually approximately 500 billion plastic bags are used worldwide. More than one million bags are used every minute. A plastic bag has an average “working life” of 15 minutes. Over the last ten years we have produced more plastic than during the whole of the last century. Plastic accounts for around 10% of the total waste we generate.

Alright, so plastic is everywhere breaking apart and floating in the vortexes of our oceans, choking fish out, that whole bit; but also realize the way in which we grow, prepare and consume our food. If there is plastic involved, you bet your microwaveable Tupperware and Poland Spring water bottle those microscopic plastic particles are going right into you, and it’s not something you can just pee out like surplus vitamin C.  Here are some more tasty facts from different studies collected by PlasticOceans: The presence of plastic in our bodies is relatable to the following health conditions: Cancer, Diabetes, Low sperm count, Altered immune systems, Genital defects, Endocrine disruptors, Rheumatoid arthritis, Endometriosis, Low birth weights, Developmental problems in children, etc.

Limiting our use of something like plastic can definitely benefit ourselves and the systems in which we live; however, such a task is not nearly as simple as it seems. If we stop using plastic for the great many things we use it for, what do we use to replace it. Instead of taking groceries home in plastic, why not paper? Paper is biodegradable, brown looking, and holds up alright. But it requires trees, and land, and chemicals, and machines. In essence, everything, in some sort of form or another, stems from the environment, where it will also eventually return. Obviously, plastic usage is not the only thing we need to focus on as we approach an understanding to the preservation of our natural environment, but it is certainly something to consider.

We are given the choice to decide on limiting our catastrophic impact on the planet’s ability to process its resources naturally in the physical time it takes to do so. Patience, compassion, understanding, and innovation are key in effectively commanding the vessel to positive change. A great example of such kindred spirit to this vessel motif is Leyla Acaroglu, “passionate sustainability provocateur, design strategist and leading proponent of systemic life cycle based sustainability” (2014). If y’all don’t know already, I am really into TED Talks, and this is where I found out about Leyla Acaroglu.

So get chattin’ on what we can do to design, innovate, advocate, research, and put into action for the creation of a greener tomorrow. And may I please propose a question: Are you a product of your environment, or is the environment a product of you?

Sources: Ecoinnovators.com, 2014; Plasticoceans.net, 2010; Sailorsforthesea.com, 2013.

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