Tag Archives: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Does Mantra Meditation Work for Depression?

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For several months, I had a mantra. A long one, one that I made up that said everything I wanted to remember each day. Since I haven’t had a whole lot of luck with many other types of meditation (I’ve pretty much always used mantras as a focal point during sitting practice rather than focusing on the breath or just clearing my mind), I figured I might as well make it a good, complete one. Each stanza is, for me, a consolidation of a great spiritual principle that upon contemplation can allow us to feel the feeling of feeling good (my definition of the state of meditation).

Here is the mantra that I used:

Angels, guides, God and all there is,  

1.
Please. Please.  
Help. Help.

2.
Notice. Notice.  
Accept. Accept.

3.
Surrender. Surrender.  
Flow. Flow.   

4.
Love. Love.
Give. Give.

5.
Body. Body.
Energy. Energy.

6.
Thank you. Thank you.
Life. Life.

I love this mantra. I love mantras in general, actually. And yet, I don’t use this one anymore. In fact, for the past year or so, I’ve used mantras only sporadically. Why is this? The reason is simple: other spiritual practices took precedent.

I just don’t have time for them all.

Here, a self-interview about using this practice for depression.

So do you recommend mantra meditation for depression, or not?

Absolutely. I have a strong feeling that I will circle back to it–maybe even to using it daily–after my Byron Katie obsession is no longer in the critical learning period.

And mantras in general? Do they help, too? Or is it best to combine them with meditation?

Mantras are just mantras. Unless they’re used in a certain way, in a meditative frame of mind, they’re just not all that effective.

I remember a time several years back when I thought I wanted to buy a particular house. So one day I said this mantra over and over for, like, a solid hour while doing yoga: “This is my house.” And I didn’t feel at peace about it at all–and I did not end up buying that house (thank God).

So what was the difference?

First, the mantra should be something that feels deeply right to you. Something that really increases your peace. And second, the mantra should be something you use as a means to an end–achieving a state of meditation–not as an end in itself.

So does that mean you shouldn’t use mantras while doing the laundry or at work?

Not at all. Sit-down meditation is awesome, but you can meditate anytime. I call this “walking meditation.”

How effective is mantra meditation for depression, really?

The thing about being depressed is that it’s really, really hard to boost yourself up out of it using the usual methods. I can remember so many times that I tried to force myself out of a bad mood using some kind of sitting or walking meditation, usually with a mantra, and just ended up more pissed off and frustrated. Maybe I’m just really bad at it (actually, I’m pretty sure this is the case). But I have a feeling I’m not the only one with this problem.

Sometimes it works really well. Other times, it’s just not enough. Personally, I’ve found that meditation is best when I’m already feeling either emotionally neutral (it then kicks me into a bit of a high) or already positive (it then kicks me into an awesome high). When I’m actually depressed, I need something … stronger.

Positive Thinking Isn’t the Whole Answer, But It Helps

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Is positive thinking effective for increasing wellness and inner peace? I mean, really. It’s so corny. So Pollyanna. And yet, we spiritual people swear by it. Non-spiritual people, too. We give it credit for so many of our life achievements.

What gives?

I love this question. Really, really love it, partly because the answer isn’t straightforward. So the other week when I ran across an interview with Eckhart Tolle and Dr. Wayne Dyer in which it was asked, my ears perked up.

Strangely, positivity is a very polarizing subject. You have the extreme believers and the extreme haters. The believers think it’s the reason for everything good that ever happens (I’m looking at you, Rhonda Byrne). The haters view these people as not only misled, but downright ridiculous. Barbara Ehrenreich, for example, has become well known for books like Bright-sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America. Not the book idea I’d want to commit to for several years of my working life.

But there are a few less skeptical, more balanced approaches to the anti-positivity argument as well. And I was pleased that in the Dyer-Tolle interview, both shared interesting, balanced perspectives. They agreed that if a person really wants to achieve greater inner peace, positivity isn’t the goal, or even necessarily a great starting point. Instead, they say, work on being true to yourself, being honest–even if there’s some difficult emotions that come up.

Then Dyer mentioned Anita Moorjani, who wrote a book (Dying to Be Me) about her near death experience and what she learned from it. In it, she says that it’s not about positive thinking. It’s not about manufacturing good feelings where there are none. It’s not about mantras, and the law of attraction, and The Secret, and Norman Vincent Peale.

Positive thinking is a mere substitute for the real thing. Real enlightenment. Real joy. Real love.

It’ll only get you part of the way.

Pema Chodron would likely agree. Her (awesome) books are full of insights about the importance of honesty and authenticity–even suffering. She has a ton–really, just a ton–of amazing quotes on this topic. Here’s one, from When Things Fall Apart: “To stay with that shakiness—to stay with a broken heart, with a rumbling stomach, with the feeling of hopelessness and wanting to get revenge—that is the path of true awakening. Sticking with that uncertainty, getting the knack of relaxing in the midst of chaos, learning not to panic—this is the spiritual path.”

So, okay. Maybe positive thinking isn’t all it’s touted to be. But, well–what is, right? Any idea that has entered the popular consciousness with as much force and repetition (not to mention anecdotal and even scientific evidence, a la the placebo effect) suffers from oversimplification syndrome. Maybe positivity isn’t the cure-all, or even one of the truly great spiritual practices out there. That doesn’t mean I’m giving it up anytime soon.

Briefly, here’s my take: As many of you know, I’ve experienced chronic dysthemia (low-level depression) for most of my life. Spirituality and prayer have always been a source of help for me, as have many other practices. But the very first true breakthrough I ever experienced regarding my depression resulted from reading a book on changing one’s thoughts. It was called Telling Yourself the Truth: Find Your Way Out of Depression, Anxiety, Fear, Anger, and Other Common Problems by Applying the Principles of Misbelief Therapy, and I still recommend it to this day (though there are other, similar books on the subject I prefer now). The basic message: your negative thoughts are responsible for your negative feelings. To change the feeling, change the thought. Oh, and by the way, those negative thoughts aren’t true, anyway–not nearly as true as the more objective–and yes, more positive–alternative perspectives.

The message was simple, and in some ways quite obvious, and yet, as a Christian who had always relied on prayer alone for healing, it was radical to me. When I began “taking my thoughts captive,” as the Bible teaches, I was finally able to cap off some of the depression.

These days, I use positive thinking as a tool every day of my life, both in a knee-jerk sort of way and as a dedicated journaling practice. Don’t get me wrong–I’d love to be more like Eckhart Tolle, who is able to “just be.” And Moorjani, who tells us that rather than try to drum up better-feeling thoughts, we should simply live a life that celebrates who we really, authentically are–whatever that may be.

I’m working on it.

Inner Peace Interview: "Meditation Gives Me a Feeling of Vastness"

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Contributor: Author Leta Hamilton, whose books include The Way of the Toddler and a four-book series called 100 Daily Messages

Me: People describe the feeling of meditation in different ways. For some, it’s just relaxation. For me, it’s slightly increased peace–a bit of space between myself and my neurotic mind. What does meditation feel like to you?

Leta: When I meditate, I see myself as the vast universe. I feel a hugeness from the inside out that can only be described as vast empty space. When I see a photo of the universe, of galaxies and the lights emerging from them, the colors they display, I feel that is the best description, visually speaking, of what I feel inwardly as I meditate.

I feel the whole universe is the space of my inner self.

This feeling is cherished and it is why I return to meditation again and again. Even when I have moments without meditation (without that feeling of vastness from the inside out), I remember it and return to it. Whether I am in the kitchen, car or store, I return to the vastness I feel when I am in meditation. Maybe that explains why I maintain the notion that meditation is more than just sitting with eyes closed and legs crossed. It is any time the feeling of vastness comes over me.

Me: Are you able to feel this anytime, even when you’re not alone?

It is harder to accomplish in the company of others. When I am with others, I am pulled back into the world and the illusion of separation. I am pulled into the physicality present in our form-sense orientation. I am reminded of my humanness when I am with others. This is not a bad thing in and of itself. However, I desire the balance of isolation as well to accompany it. I desire my own time without having to speak to another soul as much as I desire human interaction, love, friendship, and all the things intertwined with human-experiencing.

So I only have this to say: meditate. Breathe. Give back to society in whatever way you can. Volunteer. Think about others in everything you do. Lose yourself happily, because you are seeking nothing. Nothing means no-thing. Give yourself permission not to have goals–to have the goal of loving what is every moment.

That is the most awesome goal of all.

Vision boards, the law of attraction, bringing into your reality what you visualize/hold in your mind, etc., are part of the game of living on earth and they have their place, but I am more interested in being the galaxy and all the galaxies. I am more interested in returning to that place of great big BIG-ness that I feel when I meditate.

It must be a rush of endorphins or whatever brain chemicals rush through my skull that cause me to be so drawn to that meditative state. It is pure bliss and it comes whenever I am focused, steady and silent in my Self. It comes whenever I tell it to, but that is after years of practice.

Love.

Leta

What’s Happening to Me Is What’s Happening In My Own Mind–Nothing Else

In the world of alternative spirituality, it’s become a bit of a cliche: Everything we see, everything we experience, is merely ourselves, reflected back at us. We are here to discover who we really are, say our Buddhist teachers (like the great Pema Chodron) and our channels (like Esther Hicks, Jane Roberts and many others). This is supposed to make us feel better when things go wrong, I suppose; it’s not really happening, right?

But that isn’t the only reason we appreciate this teaching. We also like it because it gives us a sense of control. In his awesome pop psychology bestseller, What Makes Your Brain Happy and Why You Should Do the Opposite, David DiSalvo tells us about the human mind’s neurotic need for certainty and understanding–even in the face of very few facts.

Knowing what’s really going on at all times–with ourselves and everyone around us–is a major driving force of our actions and thoughts, he writes. There is a distinct physical and chemical pleasure response from coming up with a reason or explanation–no matter how accurate that explanation may be.

Enter all kinds of false conclusions. We even assign meaning to pure coincidence, making causal inferences from scant information.

And in Predictably Irrational, Revised and Expanded Edition: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions, Professor of Behavioral Economics Dan Ariely agrees.

So in a sense, believing the world is a projection of our own minds is a pretty attractive scenario. If I can change my mind, I can change my life, we conclude. Who doesn’t want that kind of power?

However, there’s a flip side to this perceived super power, a quandary to consider: What about when something goes wrong? Who do we blame when someone is truly mean, truly heinous, truly inconsiderate, truly . . . well, wrong?

Hmmmm . . . . That’s a hard one, isn’t it?

Clearly, your partner was not being nice when he told you he’d rather spend a night out with the guys than with you. Obviously, your mother should never suggest you go on a diet, and your sister is unfair to expect you to babysit her kids every week.

I mean, let’s face it: It’s one thing to believe in theory that everything that happens is a just projection of ourselves. It’s another thing entirely to act like we believe it, to truly believe that we’re the only ones responsible for our reality.

Some spiritual-but-not-religious folks have a code word for what happens when things go wrong. They call it “co-creation.” They think that even enlightened people experience bad stuff on occasion (in other words, even Esther Hicks gets sick). This is because, well, we’re not really the only ones out here on this plane of reality. And some, but not all, of the out-there stuff affects us.

We’re all in this thing together.

Another explanation, which I like even better, comes from a lesser-known but equally awesome teacher named Matt Kahn. (Get a free long excerpt of his book, Whatever Arises, Love That, here.) Kahn says that when bad stuff happens, it’s not because you didn’t create or visualize right; it’s because there’s some serious work going on inside you. The idea is similar to the Buddhist idea of working out one’s karma. (See Kahn’s video, “The Karmic Return,” for more.)

For quite a while, I accepted these explanations, and in fact I still do–partly. I do believe (for now, anyway) that there really are other people out there, and that those other people are actually doing things. If reality is a projection, I think it’s a collective one.

However, there’s another layer to this idea that I only recently truly discovered. And the teacher that led me to it was Byron Katie.

Here is Katie’s take on the topic in a nutshell. She says that it’s not that so-called “bad” stuff never happens to enlightened or “advanced” people. (She probably gets her disproportionate share of hate mail, for example, due to her nobody-is-a-victim philosophy.) But when you know that a comment just isn’t true, that comment doesn’t feel truly mean to you anymore. Instead, it just feels like pain. It feels like an angry child is speaking to you, someone who doesn’t understand you–someone who’s hurt and afraid.

Recently, I started using Byron Katie’s method of questioning my negative beliefs, and it has really changed things for me. I didn’t realize how negative I was until I started writing down the automatic thoughts in my mind. From the first time I did The Work (Byron Katie’s name for her process, which is similar to cognitive behavioral therapy), I was able to step back significantly from my experiences and realize that what happens to me isn’t really what’s happening to me. What’s happening to me is what’s happening in my own mind.

Needless to say, this was an incredibly freeing revelation.

I would really, really love for you to go down the Byron Katie rabbit hole with me. For a very short video introduction to her view on this topic, watch “Byron Katie explains a post: ‘Your partner’s flaws are your own, because you’re projecting them” on YouTube

Inner Peace Interview: "Loving God Gives Me Joy"

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Contributor: Author Leta Hamilton, whose books include The Way of the Toddler and a four-book series called 100 Daily Messages

Mollie: Other than saying “I love you, God” repeatedly, is there something you do to stay in touch with the Divine during the day? What do you do when you’re at loose ends?

Leta: When I am at loose ends, I usually muscle test. Muscle testing has been a huge tool in my life and I use it every day. (For more on this, read David Hawkins’ Power Versus Force.) This technique is so useful in my life I don’t know how to emphasize it strongly enough.

Loose ends means time to check in. I think of many things … and check in as I go along. Sometimes the guidance is to just sit, breathe, be patient, wait. Sometimes the guidance is to move to a different room. Sometimes it is to write. Sometimes to watch TV. There is no rule to it.

Listening, centering and checking in are my go-to pauses when I don’t know where to go next, what to do next. I wait until the thing comes. Often, it is a small micro-movement. It can be as simple as turning my body in a different direction.

I think that is why I am called to do yoga once a week. It is full of micro-movements. That is such a big thing for me. I was just thinking about that today … the micro-movements of my yoga class. It totally makes sense now.

I have a fun time on Netflix. I watch these shows that I love and just learn, learn, learn about people. The kids are directed by me about a fifth of the time and the rest is left to peers, Dad, TV and all the rest of the world (church, extended family, school, etc.).

It feels like a balance to me. If that helps, then I am glad. I never know if I am helping or not.

I just do my best to love God. That is pretty much the meaning of everything to me. To love God creates joy in my heart. I love God so much. I can’t express enough how much the love of God plays into my being-ness from moment to moment. It is the reason I live. I feel like a religious fanatic … but that really is how I function from day to day. Life is getting through the days learning how to love God more. God is not a concept or an idea, but a living energy that flows through me with every breath.

I love God!!! I don’t know how else to put it.

Thank you for letting me share. Peace out!

Leta

Inner Peace Interview: "I Realized That Suffering Is My Friend"

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Contributor: Author Leta Hamilton, whose books include The Way of the Toddler and a four-book series called 100 Daily Messages.

Me: You once told me that “God is in the poopy diapers.” We were talking about motherhood and such, and you said it casually, but it stuck with me. What exactly did you mean by that?

Leta: David R. Hawkins (Power vs. Force) talks about the perfection of the rusty old garbage can. It is old and rusty, but it is perfect as that. So I think about my life like that. When I have to walk to dog as I did this morning and I think to myself, “I don’t want to be walking this dog,” I am perfectly perfect in that sweet desire not to be doing what I am doing. It is like the rusty garbage can–rusty AND perfect.

When I ask myself, “What do I want?” these answers come up: I want to be with God. I want to expand. I want to find ways to go deeper inside myself and discover new epiphanies along the way.

So what does God do? Gives me opportunities for that. When I see this, I see how the walking of the dog is an answer to that prayer. I see how my kids are the Universe bringing me what I wanted in the form of spiritual supply. I see how the poopy diapers and 4 a.m. wake-up time for the dog to go out are exactly what I had asked for.

Perfect, perfect, perfect IS the rusty garbage can, the dog that I don’t really want, the work in the evening to get homework done when I all I want to do is retreat away from kids for a while and so much more I call “imperfect.”

I have these feelings like, “ugh,” at walking the dog. I think about them, acknowledge them and then see how they are opportunities for me to expand through insights and epiphanies. I realized this morning how win-win it is to walk the dog even though I wanted to be anywhere else! I also checked out a Tich Nach Han CD from the library & he was talking about walking meditations and I focused on that this morning too.

When I had this epiphany it came mostly because I was desperate for a pee. I realized that when I had to pee, I had to focus entirely on getting myself to a place where I could go pee. All that was in my mind was, “Make it back to the car, get the dog in the car and get into Value Village where there is a bathroom.” I was focused in that suffering. I had no other room in my mind for any other thoughts. Then I thought about how liberating suffering can be. It focuses the mind. It creates the conditions where nothing else is flooding us other than that one, focused, thought. I was grateful. I wasn’t busy in my mind. I was truly meditating. It was a meditation of suffering and it was very focusing. Then, I realized that once I peed, I’d have all this space in my mind to be bogged down with all kinds of other thoughts like, “What are we going to have for dinner?” I thought about the moment of freedom from my suffering, but that would also allow a new kind of suffering to come in–the suffering of the busy, chattering, monkey mind.

I realized that suffering was my friend also. It was just as much a part of my liberation as my moments of peace in the heart. When I have expansive perspective, I see that suffering and peace are the same. They are both focus and awareness, one in the direction of “I don’t want this” and one in the direction of “I do want this.” But the coin is the same: eternal being-ness.

With that, I have to go collect my son from preschool, then get home to the dog, then go grocery shopping, then go home again and …. It’s up in the air, but it will be okay however it works out. Hope I don’t find poop in the house when I get back, but I might and it’s going to be a perfect thing no matter what.

Leta

Wellness Success Story: "I Learned to Love What Is"

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Contributor: Mollie Player

Readers of Eckhart Tolle understand the importance of appreciating the present moment–paying attention as much as possible to the glorious Now and leaving the past behind us. For a long time, though, I was stumped by something: How am I supposed to live in the present and also allow myself to feel the desires that lead to conscious creation? 

What about visualization? What about mantras? What about figuring out what I don’t want so that I can decide what I do want to welcome into my life? 

Then the other day, a good friend talked to me about the importance of acceptance.

“Life is perfect, just as it is,” she said. “You don’t have to want a single new thing to be happy.”

And I knew it was true, because she has four young children and she manages it all amazingly well.

So, the following day, I took her advice. I started a new spiritual practice: that of accepting everything that came.

“Bring it on, Universe,” I said. “Do your worst. I’m going to learn to love what is if it kills me.”

And it was the greatest experience. That day I happened to spend most of the sunny afternoon at a park with my two wonderful children. Then that evening I was treated to a massage and a facial. I truly enjoyed these experiences in a way I have rarely done before, without fault-finding and overly critical thinking and too-high expectations.

It was wonderful.

I’m pretty sure the Universe wanted me to have an especially good first try at all this acceptance stuff, because over the following few days things got back to normal. Kids crying till my ears hurt, poopy diapers . . . you get the idea.

But I continued my new-found spiritual practice, and what I noticed right away was that none of the bad stuff seemed all that bad anymore. Because they weren’t that bad. They were the challenges of life.

There’s an amazing quote in The Power of Now (by Eckhart Tolle) about  whether or not we as conscious creators should accept that bad stuff happens.

“Is suffering really necessary? Yes and no. If you had not suffered as you have, there would be no depth to you as a human being, no humility, no compassion. You would not be reading this now. Suffering cracks open the shell of ego, and then comes a point when it has served its purpose. Suffering is necessary until you realize it is unnecessary.”

Beautiful, isn’t it? Sometimes we law of attraction believers get down on ourselves for not having everything we want, not outwardly appearing to be as successful as others we know. As much as I believe in and practice visualization, affirmations and meditating on what I desire, and pray to the angels and seek enlightenment and read books and discuss spiritual matters for hours on end . . . I’m remembering through it all that I am in a process. I am experiencing everything–“good” and “bad”–for a reason.

Truly, it is all perfect.

And here’s the really funny part (that you may have guessed already): Ever since my revelation on acceptance, things are flowing better for me, too. What I need and want comes to me in a natural way, at the right time–often before I consciously know I need it.

If you are a dissatisfied spiritual person, someone who wants to become a more positive thinker right now, I encourage you to embrace this paradox.

Accept first. Then work on your deliberate creation.

Accept.

Wellness Success Story: "My Days Are Smooth and Calm"

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In case you were wondering, this is what an open-minded skeptic looks like.

Contributor: Alexander of alexandersvitych.com, who shares his unique perspective on the law of attraction.

Last week I carried out an experiment. Every day while commuting by metro to work, I self-tuned myself by saying repeatedly: “Today I am going to have a great day. I have enough time for all my tasks. Work comes and goes. The day is calm and smooth.”

Each day of that week went indeed calm and smooth, and I had time to accomplish all my tasks without any rush or stress.

Then, on another day I did not repeat that positive confirmation. And the day turned out to be hectic, stressful and energy-consuming.

Does this mean positive affirmations are crucial for a balanced and harmonious life?

I don’t think so.

Or, to be more precise, I believe they are just one of the factors that influence our lives and adjust the flow of our days. Besides, positive thinking and positive attitude are different things.

Yet perhaps positive affirmations are not fruitless either. At least two useful things that I took for myself are:

  • They calm down your mind (eliminating “inner talk”);
  • They assist with focus and concentration.

I still believe that action is the most important ingredient of the recipe–the fifth element, if you wish. The so-called “law of attraction” that has been advertised throughout the world is bollocks if not accompanied with action. However, using positive affirmations is not entirely wrong either.

But let me repeat myself–only if backed up with acting, making and doing.

Alexander

Read the rest of this series at Spiritual Practice Success Stories.

Wellness Success Story: "My Relationship with My Father Is Healing"

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This photo courtesy MarViniz of Flickr.com

Contributor: Sal of www.powerfulintentions.org.

For most of the past few years, my relationship with my father wasn’t great. I was only talking to him about once a month and seeing him just on birthdays and holidays. I felt he was selfish and I didn’t call him very often. I felt like I needed an hour on the phone with him before I could get a word in.

But I did want to improve things with him. “How can I get closer to my dad?” I kept asking myself. I didn’t want to regret not doing so one day.

Then I read a book that changed everything. It is called The Power of Intention and it’s by Dr. Wayne Dyer. After reading it, I knew what I had to do: I had to get rid of the old beliefs I had towards my father and just look for the good in him.

So, that is exactly what I did. I started thinking about his good qualities and putting his limitations right out of my mind.

One night, I decided to visit my father, and before going I asked to be guided by the spirit rather than my ego while with him. I prayed that I would come from a place of love and not let anything my father did or said that night bother me.

Well, guess what: I saw a different man that night. He wanted to know everything that was going on with me for the last few months. We talked for hours, and at the end, I didn’t want to leave. We had a wonderful conversation and it opened great doors for our relationship.

Since then, my relationship with my father has improved greatly, but not only that; my father’s life has improved, too! After that night he went on to follow through with some of the goals and dreams that he had put away over twenty years ago when my mom died. He became more open-minded. He took the same spirituality-related course I took and identified the things about him that weren’t working, then started changing them. He has accomplished so much since that night that I saw him in a new light.

We are on a journey together, and it is awesome.

Sal

Wellness Success Story: "It Is Good"

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Contributor: Greg Kuhn, author of Why Quantum Physicists Do Not Fail, Why Quantum Physicists Don’t Get Fat and more

An African king had a close friend who had the habit of remarking, ‘This is good’ about every occurrence in life, no matter what it was. One day, the king and his friend were out hunting. The king’s friend loaded a gun and handed it to the king. But, alas, he loaded it wrong. And when the king fired it, his thumb was blown off.

“This is good!” exclaimed his friend.

The horrified and bleeding king was furious. “How can you say this is good? This is obviously horrible!” he shouted.

The king put his friend in jail.

About a year later, the king went hunting by himself. Cannibals captured him and took him to their village. They tied his hands, stacked some wood, set up a stake, and bound him to it. As they started to set fire to the wood, they noticed that the king was missing a thumb. Being superstitious, they never ate anyone who was less than whole. They untied the king and sent him on his way.

Full of remorse, the king rushed to the prison to release his friend.

“No! This is good!” responded his delighted friend.

“Oh, how could that be good, my friend? I did a terrible thing to you.”

“It is good,” said his friend, “because if I hadn’t been in jail I would have been hunting with you and they would have eaten me!”

Greg Kuhn

Wellness Success Story: "Walking Inspires Me"

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This photo courtesy fatseth, a Flickr.com contributor.

Contributor: Anonymous

About two months before giving birth to my son, I experienced a personal breakthrough: I started taking walks. A few months before that, I’d read a book about the link between mental and physical health and at the end, the author recommended long, mindful walks as a wellness practice. Though I didn’t start right away, the thought lingered in my head until one day, the desire hit. And as I’ve learned, when the desire to do something hits–something that’s actually good for you–there’s probably a good reason for it.

So, I took a walk. A long, beautiful walk. And even though I had to pee most of the way (seven months pregnant, remember), I loved it. A few days later, I went again, and again a few days after that, and ever since then, it’s been almost an addiction. It gives me a physical high that greatly helps me truly enjoy the rest of my day. It helps me be much more present. Since I’ve suffered from depression for much of my life, it comes as a surprise to me that one of the most effective strategies I’ve found is simple and free.

Wellness Success Story: “I Went From Convicted Felon to Respected Author”

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Contributor: Steve Pavlina of www.stevepavlina.com. A believer in the law of attraction, Steve has an awesome personal development website and business. He says that his goal “isn’t to try to convince you of anything. My goal is to help you grow in the ways that matter to you.”

In January of 1991, my life was going downhill fast. I’d just been arrested for felony grand theft after a few prior arrests for misdemeanors. I got expelled from college because I ditched most of my classes. I played video games for up to 18 hours at a time. I’d fallen into a pattern of self-destructive, out-of-control behavior.

I didn’t know how at the time, but I decided I had to make some serious changes. I really didn’t want to spend my adult years wearing orange pajamas.

I began listening to personal development audio programs, and I liked the positive messages they shared. Sometimes I listened to them for two to three hours per day. This had a major effect on my attitude, thoughts, and beliefs. I gradually began setting goals, working on my self-discipline, and overcoming bad habits.

Soon I started over at a new college. Thanks to all this positive conditioning, I was able to take triple the normal course load, and I graduated in only three semesters with a double major in computer science and mathematics. At graduation I was presented with special award given to the top computer science student. I was amazed at the powerful transformation I went through as a result of exposing myself to daily inspiration.

After college I started a computer games business and ran it for ten years. For the first five years, it was a real struggle. I sank into debt and went bankrupt. But I didn’t give up because I understood the value of persistence. I kept going and eventually turned the business around. For the next five years, it did very well. Our games won several awards, and we had a write-up and photo published in the New York Times.

As I began to appreciate the amazing payoffs from investing in personal growth, I devoured many more books in the field and eventually read more than 1,000 of them. I listened to audio programs and went to seminars to keep learning and growing. Soon I was formulating my own insights to build upon this knowledge–and to connect the dots between what I’d learned from others and what I’d experienced for myself.

I felt a strong desire to “pay it forward,” so in 1999 I started writing articles to share what I learned with others.

I know that personal transformation is possible because I’ve lived it. By making a serious commitment to personal growth, I went from sitting in a jail cell facing felony charges to becoming a globally recognized author, speaker, and personal growth expert. This did not happen overnight. It took 15-20 years to reach this point. But what if I hadn’t made this commitment? I might have eventually received a much less pleasant 15-20 year sentence.

My life purpose is: to care deeply, connect playfully, love intensely, and share generously; to joyfully explore, learn, grow, and prosper; and to creatively, brilliantly, and honorably serve the highest good of all.

Steve

Read the rest of this series at Spiritual Practice Success Stories.

Wellness Success Story: "I Chose Happiness"

Contributor: Motivational speaker and author Terri Lynn. You can find more of her unique insights on the law of attraction and more at thinkhappybehappy.com. Contact her on Twitter or Facebook.

As a young child my mother told me that God is always watching. At four or five I went searching everywhere for that God until one day I became aware that I was not alone. I felt the presence within me. At a young age I developed a friendship with God. Later in life I made a prayerfully guided decision during my divorce. Years later that divinely guided decision led me into a living hell. My two young sons moved two hours away with their father. “How does my life look like this?” I wondered. After going through every emotion you can imagine, wanting to die rather than face the next ten years of pain, I came to accept my life and I made the commitment to live happy.

I trained my brain to think happy and became grateful for the divine strength from within that carried me through each day. I learned to play games with my mind to keep it focused on something positive. As I look back I see just how I was divinely guided to the positive side of pain. Pain is a catalyst and is a sign we need to change. Today I am grateful for those years because my sons and I are closer because of our separation. We made every minute together count, and we still do.

To be happy, no matter what, requires taking responsibility and acceptance. The decision to be happy is what creates the experience of being happy and your happiness depends on you.

Terri

Wellness Success Story: Jack Canfield on the Power of Belief”

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Photo courtesy mike.palic of Flickr.com

Contributor: Jack Canfield, www.jackcanfield.com. As the beloved originator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, Jack Canfield fostered the emergence of inspirational anthologies as a genre–and then watched it grow into a billion-dollar market. Here, Mr. Canfield shares a true law of attraction success story about the transforming power of one’s beliefs.

One of the best examples I know of the power of belief is an Australian named Cliff Young. Here is his story.

Cliff Young was a farmer who loved what he did; however, somewhere in the back of his mind he’d always wanted to run in a long distance race–an extreme race like a 5 ½-day 500-600 kilometer one. So, one day when he was in his 60s, he finally decided to enter and to fulfill his dream.

On the day of the race, Cliff prepared by dressing as he usually did in overalls, a T-shirt and construction boots–not even running shoes–with a baseball cap and sunglasses, while everyone around him was wearing Nike, Reebok and Asics running gear.

When he showed up and the others saw what he planned to wear, they said, “Are you serious?” They asked him if he’d ever run a long distance race before. To this, he said “no.” Then they asked if he’d run a short race like a half marathon before. To this, he also said “no,” and responded the same to a question regarding a 10k. So then they asked him what made him think he could run this race.

To this, he said, “I am a farmer. I chase my sheep around all day. I don’t have a tractor, so when I hear the sheep I gather them with my dog. Sometimes, if a storm’s coming in, we may be out running around for two or three days without sleep, so I think I can do this.”

At first, the race organizers didn’t want to let him enter. Finally, though, they acquiesced.

When everyone took off they were running fast, but Cliff ran rather slowly, doing what’s now called the ‘Cliff Young Shuffle’. He didn’t know that you were supposed to run for 16 hours and sleep for 8, then repeat that process to the end, and when everyone else went to sleep he was so far behind them that no one was awake to tell him to go to bed. Then, when they got up they were gone before he got there.

This went on for three and a half days, but on the fourth day while everyone was sleeping, Cliff ran by them again, still with no one telling him to go to sleep. The end of the story is that he ran non-stop for five and a half days and broke the old record by twelve hours.

What does this tell us? To me, this says that what you believe affects everything that you do. The other runners believed that they had to sleep every night, but Cliff didn’t have that belief. Therefore, he just continued on and ended up ahead of them all.

Jack Canfield

Read the rest of this series at Spiritual Practice Success Stories.

Wellness Success Story: "Dancing Helped Me Overcome Depression"

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Guest contributor: Law of attraction advocate Mandy, a professional dancer and dance, yoga and pilates instructor. Read her blog at www.breathingheart.com.

For over two decades, dance has been my passion. It began when I was seven years old when my mother signed me up for ballet lessons. She hoped that I could use up my extra energy learning how to move more elegantly, rather than using it to jump noisily around the house. (I was a little girl who could not sit still for over ten minutes!)

During that very first class, I fell in love with dance. I grew up in a family that didn’t talk very much about feelings, and dance gave me permission to feel and “speak” honestly and freely. My voice was heard through movement.

When I was in the fifth grade, my mother unexpectedly developed cancer and died shortly after the diagnosis. It was an emotional upheaval for me and my family. Later on in life, I didn’t realize that ever since that happened I had been suppressing my grief, anger and fear. Every time I felt bad, I just kept my thoughts and feelings quietly to myself. I was afraid to confront them; I was afraid even to remember them. Later, this suppression became such a problem that I had a hard time verbalizing and communicating when I was angry or upset.  My inability to express negative feelings even led to the end of my first romantic relationship.

After that first relationship broke up, I was in a “functional” depression for almost two years. However, this experience taught me tremendous lessons about letting go and how to use positive thinking to change my life. It was during that period that I realized that the loss and the sadness I felt affected the physical function of my heart and lungs–I was actually getting physically weaker each day. At one point, I started having difficulty breathing and got tired very easily. As a dancer, I lost focus, stamina and even had trouble memorizing the choreography.

I knew I could not let my despair continue, so I became determined to get better and live my life again. During the process of healing, I read lots of spiritual books, did meditation, danced and journaled. It took me a while to see hope and happiness again, but eventually, these techniques worked, and now, I have my life back. I realize that nothing can hurt me, except ME. I refuse to be a victim of the past, and I choose to keep loving and to keep laughing no matter what life brings to me.

After realizing this, my life started to change. I started to attract more lovable, supportive and inspiring friends. When my mind feels good, my body feels good; I am just happy, healthy and free right here, right now. Most importantly, I know I am special whether I am on or off the stage.

Mandy

Wellness Success Story: "Affirmations Are Helping My Son With Asperger’s"

Guest contributor: Law of attraction believer Sarah Joyce Bryant, who gratefully requests help for her son at www.giveforward.com/keepcodyathome.

My son, Cody, has Asperger’s syndrome. When he was eighteen months old he suffered a full regression, losing his ability to walk and talk. When he regained his speech, he had echolalia, which means that he would repeat word for word everything he had heard that day. When he is in a rage state, he still has a little echolalia and will mindlessly repeat the not-so-nice things that he’s heard from other children.

Last month, Cody was discharged from an eight-month stay in a residential care facility. When he came home, I decided that I would fill him full of positive messages and love. My theory was that if I filled his mind with an abundance of positive messages every day he would start yelling out positive things when he was in a rage state.

Well, I’m pleased to say that my plan is working! During one of Cody’s recent meltdowns, he yelled out “You are very kind,” and then told me I was a stupid ass and that he didn’t love me. For him, that’s progress!

If there is one thing most Asperger’s children have in common, it is the need to stick to a rigid schedule every day. I use this need to incorporate more positive messages into Cody’s day. Each morning we listen to Louise Hay’s Morning Meditation while eating breakfast. I sit at the table with a bin of markers and write out his daily schedule in a rainbow of colors. When I have finished writing his schedule, I add positive affirmations. I always include “I am safe,” and “All is well in my world,” but we also choose a Power Thought card from Louise Hay that is our affirmation for the day. I, too, have developed a routine for myself combining positive affirmations/meditations with binaural brain waves and reading positive life affirming books for an hour before Cody gets up.

I have found other unique ways to incorporate positive affirmations into Cody’s daily regimen. I created “relax time” for Cody which includes an hour of listening to Louise Hay affirmations or listening to music he loves. He usually will read books during this time or create amazing art pieces. He also listens to positive affirmations when he goes to bed that repeat throughout the night. Recently, after his relax time, Cody gave me a plastic bag with squares of paper in it. He had made his own affirmation cards!

Here’s a sample of what he wrote:

  • I love myself and others love me and I love others too
  • Rude comments aren’t very nice
  • People love other people
  • Have a good day
  • Golden Rules: Treat others the way you want to be treated
  • Have a great day
  • I love my life
  • If I be nice to others they’ll be nice to me
  • Life is great
  • Be sorry for your mistakes
  • Talk to your friends
  • I am in control of my life

It is clear that focusing on positive affirmations is having an impact on Cody’s thought processes … and they are having quite an impact on mine, too. I am calmer and more able to handle the stress of caring for Cody every day. Amazing things manifest in my life that I had not thought possible, such as a new equine therapy facility in our area that had an available spot for Cody. And my health is improving, too! The pain I used to feel from fibromyalgia and arthritis has significantly lessened and my blood pressure has returned to normal as well.

Though things are still not easy, I am able to handle the daily challenges better. Cody walks around saying things like “I approve of myself.” He even created his own daily affirmation: “I open my heart to love.” He begs to listen to Louise Hay affirmations even when it’s not “relax time” or bedtime.

So far, affirmations have made an undeniably positive difference in our lives.

Sarah Joyce Bryant

Wellness Success Story: "Today, I Will Not Be Anxious"

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Guest contributor: Law of attraction believer Jenion, www.jenion.com.

I am a word person. I always have been, though for much of my life I relegated the power of words to my heart. I didn’t know that some words could affect my daily experience, too.

And then the idea of “intention” (and it’s sister concept, the “law of attraction”) exploded on the scene. The New Age movement meets quantum physics! So, along with everyone else, I watched “What the Bleep”, read Lynn Grabhorn’s “Excuse Me, You’re Life is Waiting,” and more–there is no shortage of material out there which says that we can create our own reality and attract into our lives the things we want by “setting our intention.”

I liked these ideas, despite the fact that much of what has been written is tinged with magical thinking and focused on achieving material abundance. Although I’m not bent on earning my first million, I am attracted to the concept that it might be up to me whether any given day is a good day or not. So, since then, I’ve tried several experiments with the idea of intention. One notable example ended up with me getting free meat at the grocery store–it was a fun experiment, but the free meat has not been a replicable outcome. What has and can be replicated, though, is the intention to manage my own choices such that a positive outcome is practically guaranteed.

I remember the first time I approached an annual event, one which I had dreaded every year, with this specific intention: “Today, I will be not be anxious. I will be calm and open to every person who approaches me. If there is a problem, we will resolve it with compassion and respect.” I wrote the intention down, and said it aloud. Each time throughout the day that I began to feel anxiety or my composure began to slip, I would remind myself of the day’s intention.

In the end, it was a great day.

This may be one of the reasons the Gospel of John is my favorite. It’s first sentence “In the beginning was the Word” is perhaps my favorite sentence of all time. It’s followed by: “The Word was with God and was God.” In other words, God’s intention created everything. How amazing and powerful is that? And the light created by that intent has not and cannot be overcome by darkness.

As with every change we try to make in life, practice is called for and perfection is a million miles away. But I have more successfully intentional days now than I did five years ago, or five months ago. And that has, indeed, changed my life forever.

Jenion

Read the rest of this series at Spiritual Practice Success Stories.

Wellness Success Story: "Everything Fell Into Place"

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Guest contributor: Hanna Goss of Goss Coaching. Hanna has a great blog about mental health and alternative spiritual practices at goss-coaching.com/blog.

In 2009, I really “got” the idea of acceptance and gratitude. Consciously, I let go of struggling against my life and focused on appreciating my home, my job, my relationships, my body, me—everything!

About two months later, I was sitting at home having dinner when my husband called from a conference. After a few minutes of catching up, he said, “Some people have asked me to apply for a job.”

It happened to be in another state in an area that we loved and had dreamed of retiring to “someday.” I encouraged him to throw his hat in the ring, if that was what he wanted.

He arrived back home on Tuesday and had his application in on Thursday. The following week he had a telephone interview that went so well they invited him up a few days later for an in-person interview. A few days after the interview, they offered him the job—with a significant raise.

That weekend we saw the community that would become our new home for the first time as we looked at houses with a realtor. By Sunday we had put in an offer, which was accepted as we raced back to get our home on the market. After spending a week prepping our home to get it ready for sale, I walked out the door on Saturday morning to fly to a conference in Los Angeles just as a couple was coming in for our first showing. By the time I landed in LA, we had a full-price offer in-hand—something everyone told us was impossible due to the economy.

Three weeks later, we closed on both houses, and moved to our new home—and my bosses agreed to let me take my job with me. Not only was I able to keep a job I loved, but I was able to fulfill a dream of working from home. Everything—absolutely everything—fell perfectly into place for this mind-boggling fast transition to happen—a transition that allowed our dreams to come true.

Hanna