Are you an optimist? Do you see the best in every situation and the lesson in every challenge? Or do you find yourself feeling like a victim to your circumstances, passively reacting to your situations rather than being proactive about creating them? Given the choice, wouldn’t we all rather think positively?
Good news: the choice IS yours! You are given the choice every moment of your life and the power of positive thinking changes much more than your outlook. Choosing to think positively also has an effect on the reality in which you live, both physically and mentally. Here are three ways changing the way you think have the power to physically change your world.
"You create a universe by perceiving it." - Douglas Adams
Creating Alternative Routes
Positive emotions connected to activities create a lot more than a feeling of happiness. Positive thinking fires up your creativity and opens your mind to many possibilities, whereas negative emotions tend to narrow our focus to limited outcomes such as fight or flight. Positive thinking allows your brain to process alternative scenarios from a space of abundance, giving you access to alternative scenarios, outcomes and opportunities you wouldn’t see otherwise.
Changing your Physical Body
Changing your thoughts will affect your physical body. Shifting to a positive mindset helps your body drop the tension and pent up stress that you pick up from modern life. Practicing positive thinking regularly will enable your brain to change the messages it sends to your body, shifting from being alert and on edge to a place of safety. The resulting effect is a reduction in stress related symptoms such as gut imbalances, breathing problems and many forms of inflammation.
Changing your Physical Brain
Every thought you have changes the chemistry of your physical brain, but positive thinking has also been linked to the growth of new connections and neural pathways inside the skull. Recent studies have seen neuroscientists discover that the brains of optimistic people are more active in the prefrontal cortex. Your prefrontal cortex shifts reality by deciphering what is important, based on the amount of time you spend thinking about it. So if you focus on the negative your brain will respond by building more pathways that support this outlook. Shift your thinking to regular optimism and your brain will register your positive thoughts as important and build neural pathways to support a more positive reality. Your thoughts really do become things.
How to harness the Power of Positivity?
You can harness the power of positive thinking to change your physical reality in a number of ways. Meditation can encourage you to stop and listen to the messages you currently tell yourself, whilst repeating mantras and affirmations can rewrite your brain’s structure overtime to shift into a more positive mindset. Once you are able to choose your thoughts, you can choose your reality. We are infinitely powerful and our potential is waiting to be awakened!
Find out more about reaching your full potential with our LAP Online courses.
The latest Life Awareness Project Yoga Retreat in our Yoga Villa in Vila do Bispo in Portugal was again a truly amazing and unique experience. No retreat is ever like the one before since every new group has its own special vibe and dynamic. We thought we'd share a little recap and some fotos of our last retreat with you.
Last Saturday we welcomed a perfect sized group of nine wonderful yogis from five different countries in Europe – Norway, Denmark, Netherlands, Germany and Romania. We love this size of group because it is just big enough that smaller groups with the same interests can break off and do activities together during the free time, and small enough to connect with every single person throughout the week.
The Yoga Villa is set in the beautiful national park Costa Vicentina, only 3 km from the stunning unspoiled coastline of the south-west Algarve and right next to the picturesque town Vila do Bispo. It features a lush garden with a swimming pool and a 50 m² wooden yoga deck. The cozy interior offers plenty of space to practice yoga by the fireplace, in case it is rainy or a bit too cold outside.
We started each day with a 90 minutes yoga class for all levels, including meditation and pranayama. Some of the morning classes were taught by our new guest teacher Erika, who joined the LAP team a few weeks ago. After the morning class we had our breakfast together in the garden of the Yoga Villa, where we also came together for lunch and dinner. Most of the healthy and delicious vegetarian meals were prepared with love by our good friend Mel, who is an amazing cook! We want our retreat guests to fuel their bodies with food that is wholesome and vibrant with energy, so we always get fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs and other ingredients from the local farmers’ market, if possible organic.
Between the meals everyone could choose whether they simply wanted to relax at the Villa and read their book by the pool or in the hammock, walk to the beach (or get a shuttle), go hiking in the beautiful Costa Vicentina National Park, do an organized Stand Up Paddle Board tour, take surf lessons or treat themselves with a wonderful massage.
At 6 pm we would meet again on the yoga deck for another group practice – either yin yoga, pranayama, Qigong or meditation. Since the day might have been quite active for some of our retreat guests, we kept the evening practice slow and restorative. Highlights were the sunset meditations at the beach as well as the chocolate meditation.
After evening class we enjoyed a beautiful home cooked dinner together and had some really good conversations. One great thing about yoga retreats is that while every guest is very individual, they usually have many interests and core values in common. So by the end of the retreat you have made a bunch new friends and some of those friendships can last a lifetime. It’s these connections with people that we really love about holding retreats!
Overall, it was such a beautiful retreat and we are so grateful to each and everyone who was part of it! We believe our guests had a blissful and relaxing experience, deepening their connection with nature as well as with the core of their true self. Practicing mediation, pranayama and mindfulness every day, they learned various techniques that they can incorporate into their own practice as well as into their everyday life to maintain a healthy body and mind.
We are already looking forward to our next Life Awareness Yoga Retreat in Portugal on August 26 to September 1. We only got a few spots left, so make your reservation today! We are looking forward to meet you!
More and more scientific evidence confirms the power of the heart and mind has on influencing our reality. What if we could learn to work with this great force. Imagine if from a young age in school we would learn to harness the power of the mind and work with the heart.
The way we feel reflects back into our reality
The wonderful and brilliant scientists over at the Institute of HeartMath have done some amazing work shedding light on the science of the heart and breathing practice.
An internationally recognized nonprofit research and education organization, the Institute of HeartMath dedicates itself to helping people reduce stress, self-regulate emotions, and build energy and resilience for healthy, happy lives. HeartMath tools, technology, and training teach people to rely on the intelligence of their hearts in concert with that of their minds at home, school, work, and play.
A large portion of their research has investigated heart and brain interaction. Researchers have examined how the heart and brain communicate with each other and how that affects our consciousness and the way in which we perceive our world. For example, when a person is feeling really positive emotions like gratitude, love, or appreciation, the heart beats out a certain message. Because the heart beats out the largest electromagnetic field produced in the body, it can yield significant data for researchers. Through breathing practices like Pranayama we can start to tap into the power of the mind and heart.
Did you know that the heart sends more information to the brain than vice versa?
According to HeartMath Director of Research Dr. Rolin McCratey:
Emotional information is actually coded and modulated into these fields. By learning to shift our emotions, we are changing the information coded into the magnetic fields that are radiated by the heart, and that can impact those around us. We are fundamentally and deeply connected with each other and the planet itself.
This is very important work, as it shows how the heart plays an important role far beyond what is commonly known. For instance, did you know that your heart emits electromagnetic fields that change according to your emotions, or that the human heart has a magnetic field that can be measured up to several feet away from the human body? Did you know that positive emotions create physiological benefits in your body, and that you can boost your immune system by conjuring up positive emotions? Did you know that negative emotions can create nervous system chaos, and that positive emotions do the complete opposite? Did you know that the heart has a system of neurons that have both short term and long term memory, and that their signals sent to the brain can affect our emotional experiences? Did you know that in fetal development, the heart forms and starts beating before the brain is developed? Did you know that a mother’s brainwaves can synchronize to her baby’s heartbeats? Did you know that the heart sends more information to the brain than vice versa?
All of these facts, published researched papers, and more can be accessed at heartmath.org.
This Is Why It’s Important for the Human Race to Change the Way We Feel InsideThe Institute of HeartMath does a wonderful job of illustrating why it’s critical for us to change the way we feel inside. Very little can be accomplished from a place of sadness, angst, or anger. Our current human experience, the everyday life we all seem willing to participate in, takes its toll, and many people feel that living the lifestyles we do, struggling to pay bills and constantly working, is not a natural way of life for the human race. It’s an experience that makes it hard to maintain a “high frequency” or positive state. What makes this unfortunate reality even more perplexing is the fact that it doesn’t have to be this way — we are capable of so much more.
At the same time, many people around the world are struggling to feed, clothe, and shelter themselves. The Earth is being destroyed and our time to turn things around seems to be limited. This is a hard truth that we very much need to address, and we have a number of options to choose from that could alleviate these problems. It can be difficult to maintain a positive state of mind when we see so many terrible things happening in the world, but we cannot create the kind of change we’re looking for unless we do so from a positive, peaceful state.
Despite all of the negativity in the world and our individual struggles, many people do manage to find inner peace and moments of joy, and that’s pretty remarkable. It’s all about perspective — it’s seeing the bigger picture and changing the way you look at things. Learning to do breathing practices like Pranayama helps us to generate a calm and peaceful state of heart and mind.
Happiness is no doubt an inside job, but with a human experience that is not resonating with many it can be hard to maintain. This is evident in a variety of different areas where people are starting to stand up and demand change. More and more people are wanting something different, wanting a life where everybody can thrive and feel good about themselves and their place in the world. If one is suffering, we all suffer — that’s the way we feel here at CE and it’s clear that many are resonating with that message.
The funny thing about our feelings is that, for the most part, they are a result of our own choices. We can choose to change the way we feel just by changing our thoughts. Negative emotions are usually a result of the thoughts we have about the people, things, or events in our lives. At the end of the day, it’s just a human experience, and all experiences are opportunities for learning and growth.
The bottom line is, feelings of love, gratitude, and compassion — any positive feelings whatsoever — have a larger impact than we could have ever imagined. These are all characteristics of consciousness, and as quantum physics is showing us, consciousness plays a definite role in the creation of our reality. If this is true, then how we feel about things must play a role, too, and with the research coming out from the Institute of HeartMath, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to suggest that feeling good might very well be fundamental to creating global change.
“A fundamental conclusion of the new physics also acknowledges that the observer creates the reality. As observers, we are personally involved with the creation of our own reality. Physicists are being forced to admit that the universe is a ‘mental’ construction. Pioneering physicist Sir James Jeans wrote: ‘The stream of knowledge is heading toward a non-mechanical reality; the universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a great machine. Mind no longer appears to be an accidental intruder into the realm of matter, we ought rather hail it as the creator and governor of the realm of matter. Get over it, and accept the inarguable conclusion. The universe is immaterial-mental and spiritual.’ ”
– (R. C. Henry, “The Mental Universe”; Nature 436:29, 2005, Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Johns Hopkins University)
(This is an article originally published on The Conversation)
Lying to patients is almost always unethical. But, in order for placebos to work, we have to believe they are “real” treatments, which means the doctor would have to lie to us and say that the placebo was actually a real treatment. Or, in the case of a clinical trial, that it might be a real treatment. After all, if a doctor handed you a pill and said, “this is just a sugar pill”, you’d probably assume it wouldn’t work. But sometimes our assumptions are mistaken.
I led a team that recently conducted a systematic review – considered to offer the highest quality evidence – containing data from five trials of open-label placebos (placebos that patients know are placebos). We found that open-label placebos seem to benefit patients with back pain, depression, allergic rhinitis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Research done on placebo effect
The history of open-label placebos can be traced back to at least 1965 when Baltimore doctors, Lee Park and Uno Covi, gave open placebos to 15 neurotic patients. They told the patients: “Many people with your kind of condition have been helped by what are sometimes called sugar pills and we feel that a so-called sugar pill may help you too.” Many of the patients got better. Paradoxically, since these were neurotic patients, they thought that the doctors had lied to them and given them real drugs.
Since Park and Covi’s pioneering study, many more rigorous ones have been undertaken. In a typical recent study that was included in our review, Ted Kaptchuk of Harvard Medical School randomly allocated 80 patients with severe IBS to receive either placebo pills presented as “placebo pills made of an inert substance, like sugar pills, that have been shown in clinical studies to produce significant improvement in IBS symptoms through mind-body self-healing processes” or no treatment (the control group). After three weeks, the researchers found that the open-label placebo group improved by 15% more than those in the control group.
One of the participants in the trial, Linda Buannono, had been suffering from IBS for years and nothing had helped. On some days she was in so much pain she could barely leave the house. The open-label placebo had a big effect on her, so much so that she said: “I never felt better in my life.” But, at the end of the trial, she stopped receiving the placebos and her IBS became worse again. She went to her pharmacist to ask for some open-label placebos, but he told her it would be unethical for him to do so.
The trials in our systematic review were all quite small and weren’t “blinded”. (Blinding is where the participants and/or the researchers don’t know who’s getting what.) In these types of trials, participants and researchers need to know who is getting the open-label placebo and who isn’t, so it’s not possible to blind them. Trials that are not blinded are considered to be somewhat biased. However, the trials were consistently positive and we also know a bit about how open-label placebos work, suggesting that bias cannot explain away these results.
Take these sugar pills. You’ll feel much better. Andrei_R/ShutterstockLifting the lid on open-label placebosOpen-label placebos probably work in two ways. The first is expectation. Open-label are usually given with a positive suggestion (the doctor will tell the patient the pill is just a placebo but adds that it “produces significant improvement for patients like you”. This positive suggestion creates a positive expectation, which can activate the reward mechanisms in the brain and help the body produce its own substances, such as painkilling endorphins.
The second is conditioning. Just as Pavlov’s dogs learned to associate the sound of a bell with food and began salivating whenever they heard the bell, most of us have been conditioned to expect a positive outcome when a trusted doctor gives a treatment. So even though we know a pill is a placebo, our bodies may react in a way that helps us heal. There have been several studies, including one in humans, showing that the immune system can be activated much in the same way that Pavlov’s dogs salivated at the mere sound of a bell.
Since open-label placebos work, does this mean doctors should start handing them out like Smarties? That may be unwise because it would support a pill-popping, overmedicalised culture. Fortunately, our review of open-label placebos demonstrates something more general: placebo effects are real for many common conditions. And we can benefit from placebo effects without actually using placebo pills. Doctors who give positive messages and take time to communicate with enhanced empathy to patients can have positive benefits whether or not they give pills. Far from being unethical, since placebo effects can benefit many patients it is probably unethical not to exploit them.
This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.