The face is the most distinctive part of a human being and therefore serves as most important physical feature for identification. Ordinarily, we recognise people by their faces. In these times of COVID and mask-wearing, I have wondered what features of the face actually make for identification or recognition.
Most dictionaries define the human face as “the front part of a person’s head from the forehead to the chin”. This would include the eyes, the mouth (lips), the nose the ears, the cheeks and other features of the face. Variations in the forehead, nose, mouth, eyes, cheeks and ears, are used to recognize one another and to distinguish one person from another. The facial muscles often help to display facial expressions that can show what we are feeling, our emotions, or what goes on in our minds at the time. Facial expression can show joy, sadness, surprise, anger etc, and can even be means of communicating with one another.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, partial covering of the face by wearing masks has been enforced all over the world. The mask is required to cover your nose, your mouth, cheeks, and down below your chin. I have wondered how we still recognise one another.
What part or parts of the face are actually important in recognition and identity? I have watched masked mothers with little babies in the pram. I have witnessed a mother in the bus, trying to kiss the baby while wearing the mask. I have wondered if the baby knows when the mother is smiling.
In present times, the Biometric or e-Passports have been introduced and used all over the world. One of the advantages is that the a machine at a country’s entry border or immigration check point scans your passport and matches data on it with your face, using facial recognition technology. Many other e-devices use facial recognition to allow access. How does this now work with the mask on?
The photo at the top of this write-up shows my two grand daughters, Melissa and Michelle. I can definitely recognize each one. I can even see that Melissa is smilling! So, what parts of the face are really necessary for recognition and identification?
Please feel free to share your comments and ideas.
It is another New Year. 2020 and 2021 have come and gone riddled with the scare and devastation of COVID -19, then the hope on vaccine production, and ending in 2021, with the new variant of the virus, Omicron! What have we learnt from 2020 and 2021? What are our expectations of 2022? If I should pick out one major thing these years have taught us, it is that that we are all connected, everyone on the globe, together with our environment. The virus never distinguished between peoples, never respected national boundaries and never cared about the economic disasters it caused. It took control over the entire human world! What can we get out of this?
The world must learn to love. Loving ourselves, loving one another and loving and appreciating our environment inclusive of everything within it. Love does not distinguish between peoples of various races, ethnicity and religion. Love transcends boundaries. Love does not judge on economic basis. Love is universal. Love makes richer nations care about the poorer, weaker, less ‘developed’ ones. In terms of the COVID, love is when all nations share in the positive outcomes of the scientific research concerning the virus, distributing and sharing vaccines so everyone that needs them gets protected.
2022 has come in a very low key. Everyone is still very aware that the virus is still there. Masks have become part of the fashion of the year. Vaccinations and boosters have become the ‘town cryers’. However, people now appear to be less fearful of the virus. We have resigned ourselves to the new norm – less social gatherings, restricted travels (travel bans), working from home and e-learning or distance learning, etc.
We do not know what the year 2022 holds for us but we are hopeful that it would be better than 2020 and 2021. We pray that the year witnesses the defeat and eradication of COVID, and people recover from the present social, economic and emotional distress and once again, get to socialise with, and appreciate one another!
The physical world (all we see around us) are made up of energy put together in specific ways to create the illusion of solidity. When you look around your house, your eyes convince you that you see a number of inanimate things, chairs, tables, windows, etc. You see cars, houses and so on on the road. That is true as far as perception is concerned, but in reality you are looking at objects that have been created through ideas or creative thinking of human beings. It was the thought that first constructed the furniture, the dress, the house, the automobile, the aeroplane, the computer! All these were conceived originally from thoughts. In-fact all our possessions came from original creative thinking and visualization of some individuals.
Thoughts are therefore the original source of all inventions, possessions, wealth and all man-made things that we can see, touch and experience. They are also origins of our various ideologies in the world as we know it, be it capitalism, socialism, educational systems etc. – all originated from someone’s thoughts or someone’s idea. When you want to do something, you start first by thinking about it, then proceed to doing it, and your physical actions match the thoughts you had. It is said that “anything we can think about, can be created”. It is mind boggling to observe that all those images that were conceived in motion pictures, like in the Star Wars and the James Bond movies, are all physically coming to reality. The internet, the remote phones, Robotics, the driverless car, you name it, are physically in existence. We now talk about ‘Artificial Intelligence’ AI.
A thought is a form of mobile energy that tends to find physical expression. When we have an idea and creatively visualize it, we are radiating thoughts energy into the universe. Following the visualization, the universe responds by helping us create or bring to reality these images as physical matter or event.
” Some people think that hard work brings success. This is not really so. Thinking is greater than hard work. Hands are merely helpers to the brain. Thoughts attract that on which it is directed….” (Claude M. Bristol)
‘Creative thinking involves a way of looking at and solving problems from a different perspective outside the pre-existing boundaries of our minds, – in other words, ‘thinking outside the box’.
We are creators, created in the image of God. Creative thinking is the magic that helps us bring forth new approaches and solutions to peculiar situations or problems in our world. It moreover, draws out our real potential. It’s amazing to watch a child creating through play. If unhindered, the child can freely produce some astonishing fabrications. He is not limited. He thinks outside the box.
At any point in time and age, new ideas, new solutions, new inventions are all locked up in humans- all of us, waiting to be magically manifested. Thinking creatively, is the only way of bringing out the best in humans in order to impart lives. This has been proven over and over again in the world’s development – be it the industrial revolution, the space age, or the present age of Artificial Intelligence, the Internet and associated Social Networks. The world can share what had been created originally from your thoughts, especially when these impact life positively. Without creative thinking, the world would still have been in the same place it was many, many, years ago.
Help create a better world! Think creatively for a better tomorrow!
A lot of people are stuck on how they see things or feel about things, their conditioned viewpoint of the world, and on their belief of what is right or wrong, and what is good or bad. It’s all about perspective – the viewpoint.
The viewpoint can be defined as the mental attitude that determines a person’s opinions or judgments, based on his or her point of view,perspective or perception. It is the way something is regarded, understood, or interpreted. One can describe an event, or argue about something from the viewpoint of his/her experience or circumstance.
Viewpoint includes a belief or opinion, often held by many people based on how things appear. Your perception of something is the way that you think about it or the impression you get. It is a construct of our own interpretations. People see the world differently and interpret events differently. It is interesting to listen to two or more people describe the same event. Each one has a different angle highlighted in his or her narrative. It is also noteworthy to mention the ways the media portray certain news items, directing their views along the ways they wish their audience to follow or believe.
I have been privileged to travel around the world. I have worked, and still work with people from various races and cultural backgrounds. I have come to understand a few things better and one of this is that in most cases, one’s viewpoints, perspectives and, or perceptions on something, are not always entirely correct. Because humans have biases, our ideas of the world are quite subjective. You interpret the world through your perceptual experiences. Some people however, are not matured enough or ready to grasp the concept of different perspectives.
“There is no such thing as one and only one correct perspective. Right is whatever conforms to your perception. You see the world as you are. Others see the world as they are too.” (Dr. Chopra)
Colonization of African countries and eventual alteration/ destruction of their indigenous cultures, values, and ways of life, were based on the European perception that these cultures and ways of life were ‘primitive’ and ‘barbaric’. Though there were other economic, political and motivating factors to colonization, these perceptions of the African ways of life were interpreted based on the European experiences and biases.
I have had the opportunity of talking with young adults who have been raised as “Third Culture Kids“. These include my own children. (A Third Culture Kid, often referred to as TCK, is a person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside his/her parents’ country or culture).
I have observed how defensive and offended these TCKs become when you refer to a particular culture, country, or a group of people, in a negative manner. These TCKs have lived with and interacted with others different from themselves, and have come to see things from various viewpoints or perspectives.
One’s viewpoint or perspective on issues can often be influenced by one of many psychological factors, one of them being Confirmation Bias.
Confirmation Bias is defined as the tendency to search for, interpret, favour, and recall information in a way that confirms one’s pre-existing beliefs. In other words, we are often times influenced in our judgements and opinions on something, by our biases. This biased approach to issues is largely unintentional and often results in ignoring inconsistent information to our beliefs. People often exhibit confirmation bias in their viewpoints to protect their self-esteem because discovering that a belief which they highly value is wrong makes them feel uncomfortable. This is evident in racial disputes and arguments. Psychologists agree that Confirmation bias in humans shows that we do not always process information in a rational, unbiased manner. Another reason for the confirmation bias is that people like to feel intelligent while expressing their viewpoint.
Having rigid viewpoints, which usually are influenced by confirmation bias may create problems in interpersonal relationships as it can result in inaccurate and biased impression of others. It can cause miscommunications, conflicts, and suspicions among a diverse groups. When we understand this, it becomes important that we step out of our preconceived beliefs, and biases, and challenge our viewpoints before making certain sensitive utterances. This may not always be simple, but with conscious effort we can widen our perspectives or viewpoints on issues.
In recent times, as the pace of migration and emigration increases in humans, we hear so much about boundaries, borders, and walls. Current refugee problems exacerbate the call for these boundaries. By boundaries I refer specifically to physical international demarcations. Have you ever imagined a world without boundaries?
Humans personalize things. They think in terms of ‘my own’ your own, ‘our own’, ‘their own’, ‘us and them’. Does anyone really own things that nature provided and continues to provide naturally- things like, air, rivers, oceans, land, forests, the outer space, and even life itself?
I worked for many years as a Senior Research Officer in the Institute of Oceanography and Marine Research and as a Senior Consultant for the United Nations and the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), on ‘Water Pollution Control and Biodiversity Conservation’ in the Gulf of the Guinea. At the time, there were seminars and workshops on ‘Integrated Coastal Areas Management (ICAM). These seminars and workshops highlighted the fact that the Atlantic Ocean had no boundaries. Pollution along one national coastal region invariably affected the neighbouring areas and would, to a certain degree, affect the entire coastline biological resources.
In my write-up on The Connectedness of all , I tried, using an object as simple as ‘my bed’ in Zanzibar to highlight the interdependence of humanity, the connectivity of all things. In another of my blog on The “Butterfly Effect”of Life , I tried to show how any action, no matter how small or irrelevant you may think it is, can cause a continuous ripple in the ‘sea’ of life. The remote cause of World War 1 is a lasting example.
Without losing the trend of this write-up, all I am trying to portray is that in nature, there are no boundaries, no walls, no borders, only continuity, flow, and connectivity. Humans create great stress for themselves by placing constraints, demarcations and limitations.
Animals in the wild do not set boundaries, rather, their genetical make up, differentiations, and needs for survival influence their distribution. We are part of the animal kingdom. We pride ourselves as higher beings, ‘Homo sapiens’, but we stifle ourselves with so much constraints and ideologies, – politics, religion, race, gender, and now, boundaries and walls.
Recently my granddaughter, Melissa, was writing her International Baccalaureate (IB) extended essay on effects of the partitioning and Colonization of countries of Africa. Her project and write-up set me thinking. “What if all countries in Africa, for example, were left to grow or develop without the interference and partitioning by the European colonizers? Would there perhaps have emerged, different groupings of people with comfortable ethnic similarities? Perhaps the peoples’ natural instincts would have prompted them to develop means of interacting peacefully among themselves and with their neighbours’. I know there could be a lot of debate over this topic. Our own ideologies and actions have led to ‘ours and yours’ mentalities which in effect create fear, and insecurity. The fear of losing, or sharing that which we now call ‘ours’ makes us justify the need for protection – call it, boundaries, walls, borders, and nationalism. These are steeped in fears and insecurity and will increasing be so. One thing is sure, constraints create stress. Constraints create conflicts.
Consider the Internet, or take a look at the various social media like the Youtube, FaceBook, WhatsApp, Twitter, and so on. One is amazed at how these social media connect the whole world, rich and poor. One cannot but marvel at the ease with which information from these awesome media instantly flows across continents and beyond. Perhaps through these, we could someday, come to the realization that life is meant to flow without constraints, without boundaries.
What is life?. How does one define life in general?. Scientists and philosophers have not found it easy to define life. This is partly because life is a process, not a substance. The most acceptable definition of life is a biological description – using biological and physiological characteristics of living organisms – Metabolism, Respiration, Nutrition, Irritability, Growth, Excretion, Reproduction, which in high school we memorized using the acronym ‘MR NIGER’. Although there are newer and more scientific ways of describing these biological processes, the mystery of life still lies in their perfect and synchronized execution by the human body. At the bases of these complex physiological processes are physical and chemical elements, atoms and molecules, intertwined with intelligent signaling and regulatory mechanisms necessary for maintaining life. Our body and life itself, is a field of infinite correlation of physics, chemistry, biology and mathematics with some direct influence of the planets and solar systems.
During respiration, we inhale billions of atoms and molecules that eventually end up as cells in our organs and tissues – liver cells, muscle cells, brain cells, bone cells etc. As we exhale, we discharge molecules of our degraded tissues and organs into the atmosphere. According to scientists, our body replaces 98% of all its atoms in less than one year!
“The body makes a new stomach lining every five days, a new skin, once every month, a new liver every six weeks, and a new skeleton every three months ..” (Dr Chopra)
The awesomeness of life overwhelms me at the birth of a new baby especially now that I am advanced in age with 4 grown children and 6 grand children.
The birth of each of my grand children set me in awe about this mystery. A few months ago, I was faced with the realization that my youngest daughter, my ’32-year-old-baby’ Tochi, had just given birth to her own ‘baby’, Noah. I gazed at the new born. I marveled at the perfection and the realization of the inbuilt potential already encoded in this infant – the potential to eat and digest food, to grow and eventually walk, talk, learn, reason and then become an adult. As the days ran into weeks and weeks into months, I am thrilled at the progress in the development of this ‘Newlife’. At 6 months, I watched as Noah instinctively and progressively proceeded to crawl, pushing ahead on his stomach and arms, aiming to grab the object he fancied in front of him!
The human body at maturity contains 30 to 37 trillions of cells which are the fundamental units of life. These cells are organized to form organs and systems. Each cell is continuously doing countless things per second and at the same time is aware of what the other cells are doing and correlates its activity with the others. Amazingly, despite all the activities going on within, the body maintains a stable state known as homeostasis.
No one puts it better than one of my most valued authors, Dr Deepak Chopra, in his book, “Power Freedom and Grace” …
“There is no time for one cell to tell the other, ‘Listen, I’m going to digest food, you wait and don’t think thoughts for now.’ Our stomach cells are digesting food, while our brain cells are thinking thoughts, while our gallbladder is making bile, while our immune system is killing germs. The cells not only do more than one thing at a time, but they all keep track of what the others are doing – otherwise, there would be a great of confusion in the body.”
This is amazing! This harmonious synchronized functioning of the human body explains why Jesus called the whole human race “One Body“. We were created to work like “ONEBODY“ in harmonious correlation!
“…. At the same time that it is correlating all these activities, our body is monitoring the movement of the earth, the moon, the planets, the stars, and the entire cosmos. Our body, our mind, our emotions, everything in our physiology is changing moment to moment, depending on the time of the day, the cycles of the moon, the seasons and even the tides..”
Wow! Our body is part of the universe! We have a direct relationship with the universe! A simple example of this synchronization of our bodies to factors of the universe is experience of the daily rhythm, the 24 hour cycle of night and day. As a result of the spinning of the earth on its axis around the sun and other solar systems, our body goes to sleep at night and awakens in the morning. Another simple example is the 28-day female menstrual cycle where biological rhythm is an expression of the cosmos. In other words, the cosmic rhythms has some impact on the human reproduction!
The human body contains 60% – 70% water, similar to the percentage of water on the planet. The rise and fall of the tides, or the tidal rhythms, which are the result of the gravitational pull exerted by the sun, the moon and stars on the oceans also affects our body such that we have periods of ‘high moods’ and ‘low moods’ in our day to day lives. Anything that goes on in the universe affects our body, whether we understand it or not. A lot can be said about the relationship of nature, or universe to the human life.
Two factors stand out here:
1 – Knowing our Purpose in life, and Living together as ONE BODY,
2 – Taking care of the Universe.
For the human life or the body, to function at it’s best, each cell in each tissue, each organ or system must know its purpose, perform its duty diligently and function in a harmonious cooperation with each other. We as living beings are created as “ONE BODY” – two words that describe God’s intention in creating us. When we know our true purpose and execute this with passion, love, gratitude, selflessness, good neighborliness, aware of our neighbours’ needs, we can create a World of Mystery and Miracles – just as the cells of the body. Each individual is important and is expected to play a role in this ONE BODY.
Secondly, the human life needs the universe. We are surrounded by nature and interact with it. Perhaps most people are only aware of the biosphere – the thin layer of the planet earth where life exists,- its soil, the atmosphere, the hydrosphere and organisms within it. We experience nature by the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat. The Universe is, however, much more complex, that, even the air we breath, the water we drink and the food we eat are in relationship with the entire cosmos. Think of the seasons (Winter, Summer, Autumn and Summer) and visualize what happens to the air, the water and vegetation at the various seasons! Right from creation man has been dependent on nature and given the charge to cultivate and maintain it. Man, however, has been making serious negative incursions into our environment, through various forms of pollution, aforestation, and so on, not realizing the ultimate detriment to life itself. Conserving our environment means conserving life. Spend time in nature, admire it, learn about it and enjoy it. This is part of our duty in maintaining this Mystery called Life.
“Look deep into nature and you will
understand everything better.”– Albert Einstein
The Mystery of the Human Life is the concise description of the Mystery of Creation!
Words are units of spoken or written representations of a language that convey meaning. Words are used to express ourselves and our emotions. Words are powerful and we hear expressions like, “I give you my word”; “Keep your word.” In both expressions, word is regarded as a promise or an honour to be taken seriously.
Most people do not know the power of the spoken word. Words are vibrations spoken out as a result of our thoughts. Words therefore are spoken thoughts. Thoughts are powerful , but spoken words are more powerful since words are thoughts expressed. Whatever we express manifests more quickly in the universe through the Law of Attractionand Law of Vibration.
“Whatever man voices, he begins to attract” (Florence Scovel Shinn)
We could use a lot of scripture to portray the significance of ‘Word’. We read that God created the universe by spoken word and it came to be. We also read that “the Word was made Man and dwelt among us”. Word manifests!
Spoken words when uttered with emphasis, and strong emotions, manifest physical results.
Jesus said to them .“… If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you”.(Matt 17:20).
Jane Elliot’s “Blue-eye/Brown-eye Exercise”
After Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968, Primary school teacher, Jane Elliot wanted to teach her 3rd grade class about racism. Because most of her 8-year-old pupils had been born and were being raised in a small all-white town in Iowa and had seen black people only on television, she felt that her all-white class cannot fully comprehend racism’s meaning. Rather than a lengthy discussion about it, she used what she called the “Blue-eye/Brown-eye Exercise”. On the day of the exercise, she told the blue-eyed children that they were the superior group and made them sit in front of the class and gave them extra privileges. She told the brown-eyed pupils that they were inferior and less intelligent group, and sent them to sit at the back rows. She used negative words to describe the brown eyes pupils and positive encouraging words for the blue-eyed children. Within 15 minutes into the exercise, there was a direct noticeable change in the behavior and personality of the two groups – the blue-eyed pupils behaving more intelligent and more assertive, while the brown-eyed pupils became dull and confused, exhibiting lack of self esteem. The following day, Elliott reversed the exercise, telling the brown-eyed children that they were superior. A reversed change in behavior and personality occurred. Though this experiment became very controversial, the fact still remained that there is power in words! Other schools and establishments have used this same exercise and gotten similar outcomes. Words manifest! The above experiment teaches that we must be careful in what we say to our children. You may like to read more about Jane Elliot’s Blue-eye/Brown-eye Exercise in the internet.
Dr Masaro Emoto’s ‘Words and Water’ Experiment.
Some of you may have read about the water experiments by the Japanese scientist, Dr Masaro Emoto. Dr Emoto showed that water reacts to words. He showed that water differentiates between harmonious vibrations and non harmonious vibrations – vibrations of sounds, music and words. He proved this by freezing distilled water from different sources and water exposed to different vibrations. He then used special photographic techniques to document the crystals …..
“The result was that we always observed beautiful crystals after giving good words, playing good music, and showing, playing, or offering pure prayer to water.”(Dr. Masaro Emoto).
Below are a few of the results from Dr Emoto’s experiments of the frozen water crystals with words said to it, or music played to it.
Dr. Emoto’s ‘Rice -Water’ Experiments
Dr. Emoto went on to conduct other experiments using rice and water called, ‘Dr Emoto’s Rice/Water experiment’. He placed portions of cooked rice in 3 little glass containers. To one he said “Thank you” and labeled it. To the 2nd he said, “You’re an Idiot” and labeled it accordingly. He ignored the 3rd container. Everyday for one month, he said ‘Thank you’ to the 1st container and ‘You’re an Idiot’ to the 2nd. He ignored the 3rd. At the end of the month, the contents of the glass container with the positive words had barely changed giving out a pleasant aroma, while the 2nd with the negative words had gone very black with a foul smell. The rice in the ignored container began to rot. Many people have since performed this experiment with astounding results. You can google Dr Emoto’s rice-water experiments to read, or see more on the subject. You can also perform the experiment yourself.
Recreating Dr. Emoto’s rice-water experiment
3 years ago, inspired by this experiment, my son, Ugo, and his two daughters, Melissa and Michelle, carried out the ‘rice-water’ experiments themselves and the result was astonishing! Take a look and listen to the children describe their experiment after 30 days.
There is certainly power in the spoken words. We live in a miraculous world and we are living miracles. When you consider that words have effect on water and that the human body contains 50%-70% water, we may begin to imagine what everything we say to ourselves and to others are doing to our bodies – our physical and psychological wellbeing and our outlook in life. We should pay attention to what we say to ourselves and others. Words of affirmation are very important. Say positive things about yourself and to yourself. Say positive encouraging thing to your children. Say good things to, and about others and mean these things when you say them. “Your Words are your Magic Wands”
Have you ever wondered how significant your life is? Have you wondered if you make a difference – if what you do affects the universe, or, if your actions really do matter to this world you live in? Well, everything you do matters – your actions and reactions matter, not just for you but for everyone else!
The Butterfly Effect is the concept that small causes can have large effects. The expression was used with weather prediction but has became a metaphor used in everyday life situations. The theory was first presented by Edward Lorenz in 1963 to the New York Academy of Science and basically states that:
A butterfly could flap its wings and set molecules of air in motion, which would move other molecules of air, in turn moving more molecules of air—eventually capable of starting a hurricane on the other side of the planet.
Though it uses the fluttering of the butterfly as a metaphor, it is a theory that everything matters. Scientists have come to accept the authenticity of this theory andit has been accorded the status of a law:
“The Law of Sensitive Dependence Upon Initial Conditions” or “The Chaos Theory”.
When you change even the smallest of life’s details, you completely change its outcome. This theory becomes even more authentic today as outer space scientists, using theChandra X-ray Observatory, have observed that the space we think is empty in the universe is actually not empty but filled with uniqueelectro-magnetic energythat connects everything in the universe!
Examples of the Butterfly Effect :
Historians agree that the trigger for the World War 1 was the assassination of the Archduke, Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austrio-Hungarian empire and his wife, by a young Yugoslav nationalist, Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo, in June 1914. This had the butterfly effect that led to the most brutal world war involving over 65 million military from 30 countries. This war among several other outcomes, led to the death of over 17 million people and another 20 million wounded or disabled. That war changed the face of the world!
The invention of the WorldWideWeb (www)in 1989 by the English scientist Tim Berners-Lee is another example with a butterfly effect leading to the present explosion in the social media, the Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Smartphones,…… connecting people all over the globe. You can think of thousands of the continuing ‘butterfly effects’ of this one invention.
So it is with our lives. Think about the outcome of your life by the ‘simple’ chooses you made. Consider what triggered these chooses and where they’ve led you and people associated with you to, – the schools you attended, where you live, your work, how you met your spouse …..
Now, let us consider our bodies. Things we choose to eat, how we think, what we say, our emotions, and life styles, all have butterfly effects that result in the physical, physiological and psychological states we find ourselves in as individuals. These states in turn affect our health, our relationships, our families, our businesses. Habouring anger, frustration and hatred sets a butterfly effect that not only causes malfunctioning of the body and ill health, but also unpleasant relationships.
Even the smallest step we take in our lives can change the course of our lives and those of others immensely. A simple act of love or gratitude can have a butterfly effect that can lead to unforeseen consequences over time. Take a moment to think about this. Let us live our lives ‘awake‘, consciously knowing that our actions and reactions matter to the wellbeing of the Universe.
As the year 2016 gradually comes to an end, the cities light up with decorations. Shopping malls bustle with people buying presents and gifts for loved ones. At this period, despite all natural and man-made turbulences and political uncertainties, allow yourself to remember and believe that ‘all things work together for good’. As William Shakespeare put it, ‘Come what come may, time and the hour run through the roughest day!’Things always have a way of working out – perhaps not the way we envisioned them, but they do work out all the same! You should thank the past for all the lessons it has taught you and apply these positively to the future.
Several months ago, I had a panic attack as I learnt of something that was happening with some members of my family. I imagined all the worst outcomes. I developed pain in my chest. My head was pounding. I could hear the thudding of my heart beats. I could hardly breathe. The more I thought it over, the more I feared for the worst. Sleep was out of the question. I would lie and ruminate over and over all that could go wrong. By the end of 3 days, I was miserable with anxiety fatigue. My blood pressure had gone up. Then, I realized I had to begin to practise what I preached. Believe it or not, all things did work out fine!
Worry and Anxiety
Everyone worries sometimes but some people worry all the time. Worry is an adaptive function developed in humans for dealing with, and resolving problems. It allows us to think or imagine things over and over in our minds in order to come to a solution. Worrying is a function of the imagination. Without imagination, there would be no worry! If worry does not solve a problem or has the potential of solving a problem, then, learn to let go of it.Worrying can become habitual and chronic and in that case may negatively affect your mood and your health. Note that most things you worry about never happen! Worry involves the thinking part of the brain – the Cortex.
Anxiety on the other hand, is a form of excessive worry with a very uncomfortable feeling of fear, apprehension, or dread. It is a feeling in your gut that something bad is going to happen. The root cause of anxiety is fear. The mind examines the issue at hand and negatively projects the future with the worse-case scenarios and gets terrified by these projections as if they must happen! These then trigger anxious feelings that flood the body with stress hormones resulting in any of the following physical symptoms – rapid heart beat, shortness of breathe, tightening of, and pain in the chest, tommy ache, headaches, migraines, sweating and diarrhea… Anxiety can be chronic and therefore becomes a psychological disorder – Anxiety Disorder, requiring professional help. Anxiety arises from the mid-brain, the limbic area responsible for emotions in humans. Lots of issues can create anxiety – your job, money, family and health issues.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; And the Peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and mind …” (Philippians 4:6-7)
Anxiety is your body reflecting the thoughts that you are thinking- usually thoughts of worse case scenarios! To transform anxiety or any negative emotion, you must learn to admit what you are feeling and how your body is reacting to it. Taking medications to calm anxiety is not a good idea since this can become addictive. Your body could rely on the medications instead of your brain producing the chemicals that ease out the problem.
Anxiety is fired by emotions and the effective way to transform anxiety is to take the emotions to a neutral phase by finding something to feel positive about so you can gain new perspectives about the issue at hand. Positive emotions neutralize the hold that negative emotions have on the brain. Think of things that make or made you happy, things that make or made you laugh or smile. Think of some issues you worried about in the past that eventually worked out right.
Avoid people who encourage negative emotions and project fearful scenarios. When unavoidably in the company of such people, change the subject or excuse yourself.
Breathe slowly and deeply to help neutralize emotional charges and reduce stress hormones.
Exercise – Simply taking long walks, cycling, swimming or dancing for 20 – 30 minutes can produce endorphins, the ‘feel good’ hormones that reduce stress and anxiety.
Listen to music that you love.
Go to somewhere that makes you feel calm and secure – a quiet park, a church, mosque or temple to breathe or meditate.
Eat well to stabilize your blood sugar and drink lots of water.
Most importantly, practise gratitude. Be thankful for all you’ve been blessed with. Thinking about the good things in your life helps neutralize negative emotions.
As you watch and experience the decorations and festivities associated with the ‘passing‘ of the year 2016, no matter what is happening in your life, whisper softly to yourself, “This too shall pass!”
Merry Christmas and Happy, ‘Anxiety-free’ New Year in advance!
I see the world in all material and none material things around me. Everything and everyone are connected. We hear this all the time, but do we take a moment to think it over? This reminds me of the poem written by William Blake:
“To see the world in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.”
One morning in April 2005, while I was in Zanzibar, Tanzania, I woke up peaceful and made my morning devotions. I looked around me and felt grateful for everything. I zeroed in on the beautiful wooden carved bed I was lying on – this bed that provided rest for me. I visualized the tree from which it was made – that tree from somewhere in the forest of East Africa perhaps among the spices of this ‘Spice Island’.
That tree in the forest had received sunshine and rain to grow like all other living things at the time. That tree must have provided oxygen, fruits, or served as home to some animals, insects or birds.
Perhaps some parts of that tree had been used by some people to cook meals for their families. Perhaps some parts have been used to make furniture, or build a home for some family.
The carvings on the bed had first been conceived in the mind of some local craftsman. That tree which is now my bed had been the hard work of some craftsmen whom I’ld never know and who would never know they were making it for me. These men have fed their families with the proceeds from their workmanship.
That tree, my bed has been polished or painted using bee’s wax or some other organic solutions.
I went on to visualize the web of connections with my mattress, the pillows and the sheets and the mosquito nets. I visualized the cotton farm, the laborers that picked the soft fluffy cotton. I imagined the textile mills where even more laborers spun the cotton into yarns or thread and the production of the cotton textile – the textile which have now become the cover of my mattress, the bed sheets, and my mosquito net.
I could go on and on about the web of life’s activities connected to my bed. There will be no end to this ‘connectedness visualization’. It is like spinning a ‘Web of Connectivity’ of all things in the world.
My bed, your bed, could be the centre of the Universe!