Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Nine Obstacles that Hinder Progress Towards a Calm Mind

Written by Anna Hunt

Just like diet and exercise, a calm mind is an important part on the journey towards personal transformation. But if you’ve tried meditating, you know that attaining mental silence is actually quite difficult. Even if you’re in a peaceful and quiet place, the mind does not always want to play along. Many who try meditation give up because this calm mind state does not seem possible.

In addition, science continues to prove that meditation has immense health benefits. Research shows that it can reverse the damaging effects of stress, which is one of the biggest causes of illness. In other research, neuroscientists have discovered that meditation improves the function of the brain. It increases our ability to focus and results in an enhanced sense of well-being.

But frankly, meditation and the promise of resulting mental silence can be frustrating. For a meditation novice, this calmer mind probably seems impossible.

Key to a Calm Mind is Awareness of the Obstacles We Create


Typically, when we sit in stillness, the mind is easily captivated, preoccupied and even obsessed. This can be triggered by any thought – an idea, a theory, a compulsion, a revelation, and so forth. Often, we become fixated on that thought. This leads to the creation of tangible and real obstacles that hinder our progress in meditation.

According to Patanjali, the sage who wrote the Yoga Sutras, the key is to identify the obstacles created by our thoughts. This will allow us to overcome them and continue on the path of personal transformation and towards self-actualization.

The nine obstacles, as per Patanjali, that hinder our progress towards a calm mind include:

1. Disease / Illness

When we are ill, we often focus on the disease or bodily discomfort. This makes it difficult to meditate.

2. Dullness / Mental Laziness

This is more commonly known as procrastination. Nothing is going to happen if you don’t even try meditation.

3. Doubt / Indecision

The constant wondering if you made (or will make) the right decision about something is not helpful, even when you are not in meditation. Having doubt never changes the result.

4. Negligence / Carelessness

When you stop being mindful, you will not be able to control your mind. Meditation is not about spacing out.

5. Laziness

Without effort, it will be difficult to succeed in any self-realization practice.

6. Temptation / Cravings

Succumbing to the five senses and becoming attached to external pleasures can be one of the biggest obstacles.

7. Misperception / Delusion

A deluded mind can easily mistake what state of mind you are trying to reach. Don’t fool yourself by incorrectly thinking you’ve reached mental silence.

8. Failure

The absence of progress will not lead to a steady, calm mind. It will not make meditation easier.

9. Instability

If you do not practice consistently, instability arises and you are less likely to attain and remain in a steady state of mind.

In Conclusion


When we give into these obstacles, we stay in our thoughts, instead of finding true calmness and peace. We can also become frustrated, allowing the mind to get completely out of control. Even worse, we give up on meditation altogether.

Yet, according to Patanjali, the path towards a calm mind involves understanding the possible obstacles that we create as a result of mental distractions. Once we understand this, it is easier to avoid these obstacles. This, then, brings us closer to a steady state of mind where we can glimpse at our true nature.

Just the process of acknowledging the presence of distractions and the resulting obstacles can bring us closer to a calm mind. And consequently, we are likely to practice meditation more often and enjoy the benefits of better health and well-being.

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This article (Nine Obstacles that Hinder Progress Towards a Calm Mind) is copyrighted by Awareness Junkie, 2017. It is posted here with permission. You may not copy, reproduce, publish or distribute any content therein without written permission. You may contact Awareness Junkie here.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Awareness Junkie, Atenas Yoga or its staff.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

A Simple Idea for Better Health and Control of Your Emotions

Breathing is one of the body’s fundamental functions, yet most of us give it very little of our attention. We go about our day – taking care of our daily tasks, working, cooking, walking the dog – and unless we over-exert ourselves or choke on a piece of food, we put very little thought towards our breathing. We take it for granted, and, as a result, many of us take short and shallow breaths.
“Short, shallow breathing causes a cascade of negative effects in the body, and the body associates that with the fight-or-flight response. It gins up the adrenaline, the cortisol, the stress chemicals.” ~ Al Lee, co-author (with Don Campbell) of Perfect Breathing
Research shows that even the simple act of breathing fully and slowly can reduce stress and anxiety, improve mental focus, and help with health problems such as high blood pressure. Now what would happen if more people spent time on the mastery of breathing techniques, such asyogic pranayama and qigong exercises? With these practices, you may discover a new tool for better health, as well as for improved control of your emotions and actions.
These techniques are used by just about anybody in any discipline you can think of — fighter pilots to Olympic athletes, marksmen, special forces, you name it. They would say, ‘This is the most important thing I do.’ ” ~ Al Lee
See the image below for some great insights about the effects that proper breathing has on the body and some resources for how you can breathe better.

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This article (A Simple Idea for Better Health and Control of Your Emotions) was originally created and published by Waking Times and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Anna Hunt and WakingTimes.com. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this copyright statement.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of WakingTimes, Atenas Yoga or its staff.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Ayahuasca Can Relieve Serious Depression Faster than Antidepressants

A new clinical study out of the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil has tested the effects of the ayahuasca healing brew on six volunteers suffering from serious depression. The treatment demonstrated that a mild dose of ayahuasca was able to alleviate symptoms of depression from within three hours to up to three weeks.
Neuroscientist Jaime Hallak and a group of researchers at the University examined if the psychotropic brew mixture of the vine Banisteriopsis caapi and the leaves of the shrub Psychotria viridis could treat depression. The World Health Organization estimates that about 350 million people suffer from depression worldwide, and global usage of antidepressants is rising.
The Nature journal of science reported on the details of the experiment:
After their drink, the participants sat in a quiet, dimly lit room. Physicians used standard clinical questionnaires to track their depression symptoms. Improvements were seen in two or three hours (though the psychedelic effects of an oral dose take around five hours to wear off) — a rapid effect, as conventional antidepressants can take weeks to work. The benefits, which were statistically significant, continued to hold up in assessments over the next three weeks. Three of the participants vomited, a common side effect of ayahuasca, but otherwise the procedure was well tolerated, Hallak says. [1]
For years, South American medicinal plants have been used by indigenous people for spiritual and physical healing. Now the ayahuasca brew has become more available to Westerners and the people seeking out new therapies to lessen the burden of depression and other mental health issues. Ayahuasca ceremonies in Costa Rica and Peru are quite common, yet finding an authentic experience such as authentic council gatherings with the Secoya Elders, whose cultural tradition of healing with this medicine extends back thousands of years.
With increasing interest in the possibilities of this medicine as a clinical treatment for mental health issues, especially depression, scientific research continues into the mysteries of these tropical plants. In Brazil, for example, using neuroimaging technology, Hallak’s team made the following discoveries:
Neuroimaging of the brains of the participants eight hours after ingesting ayahuasca revealed increased blood flow in areas of the brain whose diminished activation is usually associated with depression and increased activation is commonly associated with antidepressant effects.
The researchers attribute the antidepressant effects of ayahuasca to DMT, the principal psychoactive ingredient in ayahuasca, as it is an activator of serotonin receptors in the central and peripheral nervous systems. [2]
Hallak’s co-author of the research, Draulio d Araujo, a neuroscientist at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte in Natal, Brazil, has already begun a larger randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of the effect ayahuasca has on depression.
Scientific studies help to validate the effectiveness of Ayahuasca as a proper medicine, but the reasons that it works so well at triggering positive personal transformation may always be impossible to rationally understand. This medicine is more than a chemical that alters brain chemistry, it’s a holistic body, mind and spiritual experience that brings one into contact with the spirit of Ayahuasca, offering a genuine and very direct spiritual experience.
In his book, Rainforest Medicine: Preserving Indigenous Science in the Upper Amazon, author Jonathon Miller-Weisberger likens the transformative experiences of Ayahuasca to a celestial university, calling this an ancient science, and “the original education system of the inhabitants of the Amazon region.” He explains further that, “when adhered to correctly, this system’s curriculum provides a complete development of all the aspects of the self – intellectual, physical, and spiritual.


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This article (Ayahuasca Can Relieve Serious Depression Faster than Antidepressants) was originally created and published by Waking Times and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Anna Hunt and WakingTimes.com. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this copyright statement.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of WakingTimes, Atenas Yoga or its staff.

Monday, December 7, 2015

4 Types of Meditation that Will Quickly Improve Your Health & Peace of Mind

A regular meditation practice brings with it many benefits, such as increased brain density, a boost in connections between neurons, decreased symptoms of depression and anxiety, improved clarity of thought, and an increase in endorphins that affect mood. Surprisingly to many, the advantages of meditation extend beyond the brain, and published studies have shown it can improve physical functioning and vitality, decrease chronic disease risks, and enhance overall quality of life.
Similar to physical exercise, there are different methods that you can try as you build up your meditation practice and find a style that best fits you. Below is an image that explains four types of meditation that you can consider. Some, such as the qigong method, may require additional resources such as a good guided meditation audio track, for example Qi Gong: Moving Meditation with Lee Holden, or  a simple instructional book, for example Yang Jwing-Ming’s Qigong Meditation.
But for many of us, finding a quiet space where we can close the eyes, practice some breathing exercises, or repeat a mantra in our head, is an ideal place to start. As you become more practiced at meditation, you will likely notice significant improvements in your energy, health and mental/emotional balance. Enjoy!

This article (4 Types of Meditation that Will Quickly Improve Your Health and Peace of Mind) was originally created and published by Waking Times and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Anna Hunt and WakingTimes.com. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this copyright statement.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of WakingTimes, Atenas Yoga, or its staff.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Chakras, Energy Flow and Essential Oils

Chakras are the energy centers in the human body that facilitate the flow of energy. They are linked to mental, physical and spiritual well-being. By understanding what each chakra represents and what you can do to stimulate the flow of energy through the chakra, you may be able to achieve an optimal quality of life. Below you will find how you can use essential oils and certain spices to stimulate the chakras.

Root Chakra

The first chakra is called muladhara and is associated with the color red. It is located at the base of the spine. Muladhara is associated with survival and your comfort in the present moment and in your environment. It governs your sense of stability and security. If you feel insecure, antsy, distracted or insecure, you can diffuse and breathe in essential oils such as basilcedarwood,cilantro, myrrth, patchouli, or a blend of any of these.

Sacral Chakra

The second chakra is called svadhisthana and is associated with the color orange. It is found in the low belly, right below the navel. Svadhisthana governs your sexuality and authentic creativity. It also is associated with abundance and personal power. To activate your sacral chakra, diffuse cinnamon, tangerine or orange essential oils. You can also rub a couple of drops of orange or tangerine oil right below the navel or on the sacrum, or apply 1 or 2 drops directly under the tongue (the cinnamon oil will be too potent for these latter applications).

Solar Plexus Chakra

The third chakra, manipura, is located at the solar plexus, which is a cluster of nerves located behind the stomach and below the rib cage. Associated with the color yellow, this chakra governs your self-confidence and self-esteem. It is the link to your inner-child, the ego and your will, as well as to the fun and joy you find in life. To stimulate your solar plexus chakra, you can diffuse corianderginger or grapefruit essential oils, or apply a couple of drops directly around the stomach area. You can also use clove, coriander or ginger essential oils in a variety of dishes, or use the natural form of these spices. Drinking tea made out of fresh ginger is also a great option.

Heart Chakra

The fourth chakra is located at the heart region and is associated with the color green. In Sanskrit it is called anahata. It is said that the heart chakra governs your joy, inner peace and your compassion, for yourself and for others. Love, self-love and acceptance originate in the heart chakra. Essential oils such as eucalyptusmelaleucapeppermint, and ylang ylang can be used to activate the heart chakra. You can apply one or two drops of any of these oils directly to the heart region, or diffuse and breathe in. A drop of peppermint can also be taken under the tongue, but be cautious not to get it into or around the eyes. 
Essential oils
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Throat Chakra

The fifth chakra is located at the throat and is called vishuddha. It is associated with the color blue. Vishuddha governs your ability to communicate and express your feelings. It also determines your ability to keeps secrets and to speak the truth, and is associated with respiratory health. To stimulate the throat chakra, rub a couple of drops of lavender or birch essential oil on the front of the neck. These oils also benefit vishuddha when diffused or their aroma is inhaled directly. A drop or two of lavender can also be taken under the tongue. Oregano oil can also stimulate the throat chakra and promote health in the upper respiratory area when taken internally, 1-2 drops in a capsule. If taken under the tongue, oregano oil is usually too spicy for most people. Also cooking with oregano oil or spices is a good option.

Third Eye or Brow Chakra

The sixth chakra, associated with the color indigo, is known as ajna and is located in the middle of the forehead, right above the brow line. Some link the brow chakra with the pituitary gland, which governs the development and function of other endocrine glands; others link this chakra to the pineal gland, which is said to be our third-eye and the seat of the soul. Ajna helps harmonize the opposing energies in the body – the yin and the yang – improving your mental focus and your ability to meditate. It is said to govern your intuition, clairvoyance and imagination, and, in general, your higher mental abilities. 

 Essential Oils information
Essential oils that increase focus, improve memory and relieve anxiety, such as lemongrasslavenderfrankincense, and sandalwood, can help heal any imbalances in the brow chakra. The best application is to rub a drop of oil on the third eye area, or inhale the aroma of the oil directly. You can also place a drop of lavender or frankincense under the tongue.

Crown Chakra

The seventh and final chakra is located at the top of the head, or the crown, and is calledsahasrara. This is the accumulation of all of the chakras and is represented by the colors violet or white. It symbolizes the conscious and unconscious belief system. It is said that the crown chakragoverns the purpose of your life journey, your connection to spirituality, and your union with the higher self or higher consciousness. 

To stimulate this chakra, rub a drop of frankincenseRoman chamomilelavenderrosemary or sandalwood on the crown. You can also inhale the aroma of the oils directly or place a drop of frankincense under the tongue. Note: Keep in mind that with any topical application, it is best to apply only one drop of any new essential oil to the skin to ensure that you are not allergic. Also, anyone with sensitive skin may also opt for diluting the oil with fractionated coconut oil before topical application, or better yet chose to diffuse the oil instead.

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http://www.magickalmind.com/chakras.htm http://www.selfgrowth.com/articles/7_herbs_for_7_chakras

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Atenas Yoga, or its staff.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Why Do We Practice Downward Dog

Downward dog is one of my favorite postures.

Here are some of the reasons why:

It builds bone density. Downward Dog as well as other arm balances that place weight on the arms and shoulders are great for building upper body strength and preserving bone density, which is especially important to women as they age and their risk for osteoporosis increases.

It wakes you up. As per B.S.K. Iyngar, founder of Iyngar yoga, Downward Dog is one of the best poses you can do when you're fatigued. It works well for athletes who have lost lots of energy after strenuous workouts, as well as those of us who just find themselves tired after a long day of work or activity.

It eliminates stiffness and back pain. Downward dog helps increase flexibility of the upper back and makes it less likely to store tension. It is highly recommended for people who get pain in their shoulders and upper back.

It boosts circulation. Yoga postures where the heart is above the head are great for the circulatory system, encouraging blood flow throughout the body. An active circulatory system helps flush toxins from our body, keeps our immune system in tip-top shape, and helps regulate blood pressure.

It can be easily modified. If you are overweight or have stiff shoulders, it can be difficult, or even painful, to put all your weight on your arms in downward dog. If you find the posture uncomfortable, you can practice it on the forearms, with the hands on a wall, or the hands pushing down on the back of a chair. (Please, always consult your doctor about practicing yoga if you have high blood pressure or other serious injuries.)

It allows you to check in with your body. Downward dog is a great posture for "checking in" with how you feel and for realigning the body. The posture stretches the arms, legs and back, all at once, so you can easily tell how each part of your body feels.