A Message For The New Year
In an age when we own so much and have access to so much more, why is it that most of us are so dissatisfied, unhappy and often depressed about our lives? And how can we change that? How can we take steps towards being rather than having or doing, towards happiness rather than misery? Among the different available paths, a lot of us turn to spirituality for answers, while still holding on to patterns of behavior and core beliefs that keep us stuck.
According to Sadhguru, an Indian yogi, mystic and author, we hold the key to our own happiness by understanding and following a just few basic principles. Here are three of them:
1) All the rules are our rules. We made them up or inherited them from others. We use those rules to create the cages that entrap us. The good news is that we can choose to change the rules that we have often unconsciously accepted and live by. We have the free choice to choose to be free.
2) Our responsibility is limitless. We are all responsible for how we create and react to the world around us. In many circumstances, our actions may be currently or temporarily limited; but not our responsibility for what happens. This is not about assigning blame; it’s about understanding the impact that our own actions and reactions affect how we live, how we relate to others (and others relate to us) and, due to the fact that we are interconnected, everything else that is happening in the world around us.
3) This moment is inevitable. This very moment that we are living right now cannot be changed. And this one… And this one… And so on. We can start making different choices that will potentially change our future, moment by moment. But we have no choice but to accept the moment that happening right now, which is a consequence and accumulation of past moments, as well as how our rules create out world. It’s our resistance to this principle that causes a lot of our misery. If we are able to accept that basic truth, our lives can become a whole lot easier, and we can start taking steps towards feeling more content and we make different choices. Happiness is within reach!
FINAL THOUGHT: Just try practicing these simple principles as you observe yourself and the world around you. It can be a life-changing experience…
Gisele Marasca-Vargas; 12/29/2018
Jaggi Vasudev, also known as Sadhguru
Sadhguru’s YouTube channel:
Do you consider yourself a perfectionist (or either of its close relatives, the lazy perfectionist or the imperfect perfectionist)? Please refer to the article 15 Struggles Only Perfectionists Would Understand (also listed under References). If you find yourself there, you’re far from being alone. While the 2010 article Real Learning: Meet the Perfectionists mentioned that the general population contains approximately 30% perfectionists, that percentage has been steadily increasing; especially among young people worldwide, according to a Harvard Business Review article by Thomas Curran and Andrew P. Hill (Perfectionism Is Increasing, And That’s Not Good News). In the same article, the authors make reference to their published research which discusses the idea that perfectionism might be behind the recent rise in serious mental illness.
As a perfectionist myself, I know what it’s like to feel overwhelmed and get lost in small details and endless tweaking. Although I realize that perfectionism is counter-productive, as it causes a lot of busy work and often leads to procrastination and even paralyzing fear, it’s still a habit that can be very hard to keep under control. Over the years, however, I’ve learned a few tools that have helped me (and can also help you) in the journey to become a functional perfectionist:
1) HAVE A PLAN. You are much more likely to achieve your goals and remain focused if you take the time to put together a detailed plan of action, or at least a solid outline of action steps towards achieving your goals. However, try not to get too caught up into making lists and organizing the process, or nothing will get done.
2) CATCH YOURSELF! Focus, prioritize and continuously remind yourself of what really matters. Why are you here? What are your main goals, or what do you aim to accomplish or achieve? Who do you want to serve (or for whom do you do what it is that you do, or want to do)?
3) JUST DO IT! According to Marie Forleo, life coach, motivational speaker, author and owner of B-School and web television MarieTV, “perfectionism will kill your dream. It is the one thing that separates winners from the wannabe’s in almost every area of life.” She also says that none of us are immune to this; we can all slip into that mindset if we’re not careful. So her mantra is “go for progress, not perfection.” This is not about lowering your standards; it’s about stopping endless tweaking (which is a manifestation of procrastination caused by fear) and focusing on what really matters: results. “If you wait to get it perfect, Marie affirms, “you’ll never get it out there.” So do it before you think you’re ready! This is also how you learn and evolve; and there is no shame in growing and improving your work, once it’s already out there.
4) TAKE FREQUENT 5 R’S BREAKS (RELEASE, RECHARGE, RESET, REDIRECT AND REFOCUS). Your mind really needs breaks, and you’ll notice that you’ll be much more productive if you take them throughout the day. Brendon Burchard, one of the top motivation coaches and marketing trainers in the world, suggests taking a 5 or 10 minute break every 50 minutes to stand up and stretch; breathe deeply and get some oxygen in your body and brain while repeating “release, recharge, reset” in your mind; take a bathroom break; drink water; play with your pet or something that is relaxing for 10 minutes.
To redirect and refocus, Brendon also suggests that you ask yourself the following questions before you get busy again: Who needs me in my A game right now? How can I show up at my best? What are my priorities right now? What will advance me the most towards my goals?
BONUS BENEFIT: Recent research suggests that taking even a 5 minute break every hour to move your body (walking, stretching, etc) is more effective to improve your mood and promote well-being than a single longer walk or exercise routine before or after work.
5) GET HELP! If you catch yourself procrastinating often due to lack of focus or fear, take the time to examine what might be behind this pattern. There are many available therapies and techniques that can help you release, resolve and remove any fears, blocks, barriers, negative core beliefs or illusions of limitations that are in your way. Some of them are cognitive behavioral therapy, hypno-coaching, meditation, yoga, etc.
6) DON’T BEAT YOURSELF UP! If you’re making progress and catch yourself slipping back into your old patterns of procrastination and perfectionism, simply acknowledge it and shift back your focus to positive action steps and habits that get you moving forward. Release all that guilt and shame, and choose to be gentle with yourself!
7) DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS! As that wise old text Desiderata states, “If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.” Just remember that you are unique, and NO ONE else can do what you do the way you do it!
8) ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR VICTORIES! Take time to appreciate and celebrate yourself at every turn; and not just when you manage to accomplish your goals or important milestones towards your goals, but also for all the small steps you take every day on your way to accomplishing your goals! Reward yourself and enjoy some well-deserved rest and play time.
FINAL THOUGHT: BE CURIOUS AND PERSISTENT! According to Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love and Big Magic, among other successful books, “all my most fruitful seeking and making in life has been born out of curiosity, and hopefully always will be. I feel like curiosity and stubbornness have been the two guiding stars of my existence as a writer, in particular. (The author Robert Stone once quipped, recognizably, that he had the two worst character faults possible in a writer — that he was lazy, and a perfectionist. I've always thought that if you can trade those two creativity-killing traits out for simply being curious and stubborn, then you are ON YOUR WAY.)”
Gisele Marasca-Vargas; 11/26/2018
The Charge: Activating The 10 Human Drives That Make You Feel Alive, by Brendon Burchard
High Performance Habits, by Brendon Burchard
Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert
Real Learning: Meet The Perfectionists
Perfectionism Is Increasing, And That’s Not Good News
Why Perfectionism Will Crush Your Productivity — And How To Stop It
15 Struggles Only Perfectionists Would Understand
You Aren't Lazy — You're Just Terrified: On Paralysis And Perfectionism
How This Simple Formula Can Help You Increase Your Productivity By 30% Every Single Week
4 Steps To Restart A Bad Day
Work. Walk 5 Minutes. Work.
For all the healers, change-makers and those seeking to help and serve others out there
Yes, I know… This is too much!!! It’s certainly more than what you bargained for. While your intention was to learn how to help others undergo deep and meaningful transformation, you probably never imagined that you’d have to go through it first (or yet again)… And that it might turn your life upside down in the process!
At the same time, you know you are here for an important reason: you’ve been called to action and this is your life path, so you need to keep going. Of course, maintaining balance in all areas of life while you’re at it would be ideal. But sometimes things will get messy, and balance might be hard to maintain… So what now? Here are some suggestions to keep in mind when trying to create balance and deal with overwhelm, as you continue to pursue your goals and dreams:
1) Remember that we often thrive and achieve the most when we are extremely busy and feel overwhelmed, as that forces us to take stock and focus on what really matters. Not to mention that we have the opportunity to push our limits and discover what we’re capable of!
2) Remind yourself of why you are here. What’s your purpose or calling in life? What’s your biggest dream of service? Why did you choose to become part of this amazing tribe of healers and change-makers? Get back in touch with what motivates your soul!
3) Get support. That can come from friends, family members, classmates, teachers, mentors, etc, as well as spiritual sources. For instance, how about creating an in-person or online meditation or study group with like-minded friends and fellow healers?
4) Remember to use the tools you’ve learned! We all use them to help friends, family, clients… But we often forget to get our tool box out and use it to help ourselves, and just when we need it the most! For instance, you can trade sessions with fellow healers to work on achieving balance, as well as releasing, resolving and removing blocks, barriers, limiting core beliefs and fears.
5) Focus on what really matters and moves you closer to achieving your goals (please see the video below for some great advice).
How To Deal With Overwhelm, by Marie Forleo
6) Never give up! Just keep moving forward, through and around your fears. Invite your dragons and demons for tea (or margaritas, as a student of mine suggested once; she thought that would be more fun!) and have a straight talk with them. Bring them to light and question them all!
FINAL THOUGHT: Put that fear energy to work for you! After all, fear is your friend; it reveals the road map to opportunity!
Gisele Marasca-Vargas; 07/09/2018
About Our Roles In Others' Lives
One morning I was feeding the rescues cats that live in shelters around our home, when I noticed one of the cats in hunting mode, chasing something. As I got closer, I noticed the cat was mercilessly swatting at a butterfly, playing his catch game. I got closer, shooed the cat away and examined the poor butterfly. The back part of its wings had been slashed on several places, leaving the butterfly still able to fly, but only at short heights and distance. With pain in my heart for the poor butterfly, I decided to try to get it and move it to a safer location where it wouldn’t be so exposed. As I tried to approach it and carefully scoop it in my hands, the butterfly seemed to understand I was trying to help. It simply walked from my cupped hands to my left wrist and just sat there, seemingly waiting for my next move.
Mind you, that was the very first time I ever had a butterfly pose on my arm, and I felt a sense of exhilaration, as well as responsibility for that beautiful and precious little life. I started scouting the area for a place where to safely discharge the ward in my care. I walked towards one of my neighbor’s house and approached a low hedge in the middle of their front yard. Not sure if that would be safe enough, I decided to ask the butterfly. As I got closer to the hedge, moving as if to place it there, the butterfly walked up from my wrist to my arm, giving me a clear indication that it wasn’t ready to get off. So I kept slowly walking around, butterfly on arm, until I noticed a low-bearing tree behind the wood fence between the next two neighbors. Some of the tree branches touched the top edge of the fence. I climbed up a pile of bricks to reach the top of the 6’ fence, paused and decided to ask the butterfly if that was a better spot. As I was in the process of formulating that question in my mind, the butterfly seemed to instantly respond by walking down my arm and into a leaf from one of the tree branches over the fence. Elated,
I said goodbye and left it there, hoping it would still be able to live the rest of its butterfly life
I found the experience quite moving in many ways. And since I believe everything happens for a reason, I started looking for the meaning behind this sad but beautiful experience I had just shared with a butterfly. What came to mind was a parallel with my profession. As a healer, it’s my job to create the safe space to assist the people I cross paths with in dealing with the challenges they encounter, and help them find a better path. But all I can do is to serve as a tool, a facilitator, a ride from point A to point B. As much as I want to help, even to the point that I might occasionally entertain the misguided belief that I know what’s best for my clients, in the end my job is to gently guide them where they want to go, while checking along the way if they are indeed approaching their goals; and then finally letting them go when they find the perfect spot where to get off and continue their journeys on their own (or with someone else’s assistance). I would have loved to know if that butterfly managed to live the rest of her life flying from flower to flower, completing its mission in this world. But I had to trust the fact that our paths were just meant to cross for that brief period of time during which we connected and learned from each other, while I was able to be of service.
The same principle can apply to anyone trying help a loved one through a challenge. The bottom line is, we can’t shorten anyone’s path; but occasionally we may be placed in a position to offer someone a hand (or accept someone’s support), as we all continue to move forward at our own pace to where we need to be…
On a side note: I often use the butterfly symbol of transformation during my sessions, and I actually had a client gift me a beautiful coffee cup with the following famous quote:
“Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly…”
Gisele Marasca-Vargas; 10/23/2017
Do you remember the fast-talking peddlers often depicted in old Western movies, who entertained their audience while selling bottles of miracle medicine that was supposed to cure everything from lice and snake bites to lumbago and lameness? Most of them were simply ineffective and harmless; many of them, however, were potentially dangerous and contained herbal concoctions mixed with generous amounts of strong liquor or opiates which often caused customers to become addicted.
That’s what came to mind when I read the Huffington Post article Coconut Oil Is Over, RIP Coconut Oil (link below). In her rather angry article (which is something that tends to raise a red flag for me), Dr. Laura Thomas says that the coconut oil hype is an example of “marketing getting one over on science.” She mentions the tall claims that coconut oil helps you lose weight, reduces cholesterol, prevents dementia and boosts the immune system, to name a few. She then proceeds to quote the British Nutrition Foundation and their findings concerning the claim that coconut oil promotes weight loss. After reviewing available studies, the BNF reports that “there’s insufficient, good quality evidence at present to conclude that the consumption of coconut oil leads to a reduction in adiposity (fat).” According to Dr. Thomas, the studies used to substantiate such claims were flawed and are examples of “bad science” being used to push tons of coconut oil on unsuspecting consumers. She also mentions on her article that there are no studies showing any “immune-boosting” or “brain-Boosting” effects of coconut oil. And she ends by telling you to keep coconut oil “the f*ck out of your smoothies.”
On the other hand, the article 10 Proven Health Benefits Of Coconut Oil (by Kris Gunnars, from Authority Nutrition, a website that claims to take an “evidence-based approach” to nutrition), seems to disagree. Among other things, the author points out that “coconut oil contains fatty acids with powerful medicinal properties”; “populations that eat a lot of coconut oils are healthy” (going off on a tangent, I remembered watching a Jackie Chan movie where he saves a guy from dying in a desert by using coconut water in a make-shift I.V.!); “coconut oil can help you burn more fat”; “coconut oil can kill harmful microorganisms”; “coconut oil can reduce your hunger, helping you eat less”; “the fatty acids in coconut oil are turned into ketones, which can reduce seizures”; “coconut oil can improve cholesterol levels”; “coconut oil can protect hair against damage, moisturize skin and function as sunscreen”; “the fatty acids in coconut oil can boost brain function in Alzheimer’s patients”; and last but not least, “coconut oil can help you lose fat, especially the harmful abdominal fat.” Gunnars ends the article by affirming: “I personally cook almost everything I eat in coconut oil and my health has never been better.”
There are countless such articles online, authored by information providers who have supposedly checked the facts; all heralding the health benefits of coconut oil. Many of them mention the great benefits of coconut oil for Alzheimer’s patients, for instance. One example is the article Alzheimer’s Treatment: New Alzheimer’s Drugs Continue to Fail Where Coconut Oil Shines. (please see link below), which lists a lot of research and testimonies, and claims that “the testimonies of success in using coconut oil to treat Alzheimer’s have been nothing less than remarkable, especially considering the widespread failure of the drug companies to find drugs that can effectively deal with this disease.” The thing is, this information comes from coconutoil.com, a website that seems to have been created with the purpose of promoting coconut oil. And you might be familiar with Dr. Mary T. Newport, who decided to give her husband coconut oil to treat Alzheimer’s, supposedly with amazing results (please see the link to a short video below; the full-length video is available on youtube.com). But the website cited on the video is coconutketones.com, which might also be another coconut oil promoting site.
In addition to the marketing aspect of the available information, Dr. Thomas affirms that “a lot of the available studies “are observational, meaning we’re just looking to see what happens - you can’t prove cause and effect from this type of study.”
If Dr. Thomas is the one who’s right, maybe my husband and I should also be angry, as we bought into the coconut oil rave and personally use coconut oil in generous quantities for cooking* (as a medium/low smoke point oil, so we don’t use it for frying or other high heat cooking methods; please see oils smoke point chart on the article below). Except that neither my husband nor I seem to be suffering the potential harmful effects of cooking with coconut oil. And we absolutely love it. I also use coconut oil once a week as a deeply moisturizing skin mask as per my esthetician’s suggestion, due to the fact that I have very sensitive skin and usually have trouble with commercial face creams. It works very well for me (BTW, if you’d like to try it, but are not sure if it will feel or smell too overwhelming, you can try applying a thing layer of coconut oil and then your regular moisturizer on top).
We’re all aware that, over the years, many foods have been “villainized” in comparison to their competition, to only end up by being proven as the better (or less harmful) option, after all. For instance: a few decades ago, studies came out showing that butter was full of saturated fat and very, very bad for you; margarine and other butter substitutes were supposed to be much healthier. A few years later, margarine and other butter substitutes were proven to be much worse than butter due to the harmful effects of unnatural trans fat such as hydrogenated oils, in addition to the dozens of chemicals they use (including yellow die to make it look like butter). Butter had a come back as a better option, especially if organic and consumed in moderation. A similar trend happened with sugar and artificial sweeteners, among other foods and products.
The problem is: With the mass media world constantly feeding us (often incorrect) information, how can we tell what is what? In our household, here’s what we do:
1) We try to do some research ourselves and get as much information as we can from reputable professional sources on both sides of the issue. If at all possible, when we read about a “scientific study,” we try to find out who funded it (a very hard thing to do, since the moneys behind it might reveal the vested interests, if any, on the results of the study).
2) Even if the research checks out, we take it all in with a grain of salt… And we make sure to check with our doctor or other healthcare professionals for reasons why a specific substance might be beneficial or harmful to us.
3) If we decide to try it out, we pay attention to how we are personally affected by it, so that we can decide if it works for us. For example, I know for a fact that I do noticeably well on real butter (in moderation), but do very badly on margarine (digestive issues, weight gain, low energy level, etc).
4) We also make sure to have a wellness exam with a complete blood panel and other tests at least once a year (or more, if any issue comes up). That’s how we’ve been able to ascertain that our use of coconut oil hasn’t increased our cholesterol levels or caused other health issues.
Final Thought: So maybe coconut oil can’t indeed cure everything and should be used with discretion in the kitchen, especially by people who need to watch their intake of saturated fats (of the “good” and “bad” kind). But let’s not get carried away and go for the tar and feathers just yet. Maybe coconut oil does have some positive effects which haven’t been properly researched yet. Plus, in addition to its uniquely delicious flavor which makes it a favorite for cooking, this is an amazingly versatile oil that has countless uses, including beauty/hair and around the home. So, as with most things in life, enjoy… with moderation.
Gisele Marasca-Vargas; 08/16/2016
* Two of our favorite ways to use coconut oil for cooking are:
1) Thai Baked Salmon: spread some coconut oil on a baking dish; place salmon fillets; season both sides to taste with curry, turmeric, coconut sugar, light soy sauce and anise or fennel seeds; top with a touch of cayenne pepper and a dab of coconut oil per fillet; bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
2) Sweet Potatoes With Coconut Oil: dice and steam sweet potatoes or yams; toss lightly with coconut oil.
Coconut Oil Is Over, RIP Coconut Oil, by Laura Thomas, PhD
Alzheimer’s Treatment: New Alzheimer’s Drugs Continue to Fail Where Coconut Oil Shines
The Science Behind Coconut Oil As An Alzheimer's Treatment - Dr. Mary Newport
10 Proven Health Benefits Of Coconut Oil, by Kris Gunnars
101 Best Coconut Oil Uses And Benefits
Cooking Fats 101: What’s A Smoke Point And Why Does It Matter?
Reiki (“Rei”: universal; “Ki”: life energy or light) is a technique used for stress reduction and relaxation that can also help promote healing. There are many forms and founders of Reiki. One of the main originators is Dr. Mikao Usui, who developed the practice in the beginning of the 20th century in Japan. Reiki is usually administered by the laying of hands on or above the chakras (energy centers) of the body. The practitioner then increases and directs the energy flow through the body. Blockages found in the meridian points and channels are often released by Reiki treatments. This technique also helps balance the body’s chakras. Think of it as an energy “tune-up.”
Is There Any Scientific Proof That Reiki Works?
Up until recently, scientific proof of the effectiveness of Reiki or Reiki-based healing was hard to come by. Part of the reason is that it's practically impossible to accurately measure the effectiveness of energy healing by using most the of scientific methods currently in use, as the great majority of them don't even acknowledge the existence of subtle energy bodies, and don't measure the effect of energy healing on meridians, chakras, etc. Not to mention the issues regarding the infinite number of variables present in energy healing studies, as well as the way some of these studies are set up. For these reasons, most of the research available can hardly be taken as real proof of the true effectiveness of Reiki (or lack thereof, as many attempted to disprove it).
For instance, one particular study had three different target groups; the first group was treated with Reiki by trained practitioners; the second with "placebo Reiki," (a person who was not a trained Reiki healer and was just going through the motions), and the third group received no intervention. Both the first and second groups reported feeling better, while the third group reported no change. But the conclusion of the study was that "real" Reiki was no better than "placebo" Reiki, as both groups had similar results. So, even in the way these "scientific studies" are set up, it's obvious that there's great lack of understanding about energy healing. The fact that the "placebo Reiki" group got good results could be solely explained by the placebo effect. But isn’t the placebo effect the very demonstration of the power of the mind to energetically effect change on the body by mere suggestion?
There’s also the fact that, if a subject is open and receptive to energy healing, it’s more likely to work (placebo or not); and how can you measure the level of receptiveness of each subject? In addition, it could also be that the person who performed the "placebo Reiki" actually managed to move energy and cause an effect, even without having been properly trained in how to do it. Of course, most trained practitioners should be able to achieve better results more consistently. However, anyone has access to the same energy fields and would be capable of achieving different degrees of result when doing bodywork, training or no training (although some results might be more positive than others, depending on the person's energy). Some people are natural born healers without even knowing it.
In spite of such “studies,” Reiki, Therapeutic Touch and other similar energy therapies are becoming more widely accepted due to their encouraging results, and more and more energy therapists and nurses in hospitals and clinics are being trained in these modalities. Some hospitals and clinics have also created volunteer services. For instance, at the Mayo Clinic Hospital in Rochester, MN, practitioners of Reiki or healing touch provide services as volunteers to patients at both the hospital campuses and some outpatient areas. The healing enhancements are provided in conjunction with Mayo Clinic's Complementary and Integrative Medicine Program.
Encouraging News: Science Is Catching Up
Nowadays there’s better scientific research available, as modern science is beginning to catch up on such subjects. One example is profiled on the online article Reiki Really Works: A Groundbreaking Scientific Study (Savvy Examiner; link below). The article mentions The Touchstone Process formulated by William Lee Rand. According to this source, Rand developed a web site about Reiki in hospitals, which is "considered to be the most comprehensive compilation of hospitals offering Reiki treatments throughout the world." Rand developed The Touchstone Process after creating his web site. Quoting the article, this process "is a peer review method for analyzing the current state of scientific studies done on Reiki programs in hospital, clinics and hospice facilities throughout the United States. The process of critique is rigorous, impartial, and consistent and incorporates the best practices for scientific reviews." This is an unprecedented approach which has actually been able to show indisputably successful results with the use of Reiki therapy.
I'm providing below additional articles with information on many current scientific studies, some of which mention the measurable effects that occur during a Reiki treatment. One of them specifically mentions the significant difference on certain test meridian points (spleen, adrenal glands and the cervical and thoracic regions of the spine) before and after a Reiki session.
Bottom line: Such modalities have been successfully practiced for thousands of years, and the proof of the pudding is in the eating...
About The Reiki-Based Intuitive Energy Healing Session I Offer
In 2002, when I first began training in different methods of energy work, the power and potential of these healing techniques became very apparent to me. Over the years, I also started seeking opportunities to develop and train my intuition. At a certain point, both things seemed to naturally merge and overlap during my client sessions. As I learned, observed and practiced, I created a system which helped maximize the effectiveness of different techniques. Since then, I have researched and found countless styles and methods of energy healing which involve some type of intuitive feedback; not only in modern days, but in ancient and traditional practices. While I do not claim to have created this concept or even being the first to use the name Intuitive Energy Healing, I have developed a unique style based on my own knowledge and experience with energy healing techniques and intuitive reading.
My own definition of Intuitive Energy Healing is a healing session which has its base on Reiki and also combines aspects of different techniques such as Pranic Healing and Cellular Release Therapy, among others. This session includes intuitive guidance to help with the life issues the clients are facing, which invariably affect their health. In short, this powerful one-hour session helps reflow energy and promote relaxation and well-being, while facilitating inner guidance.
Some of the potential benefits of energy healing therapy are:
1. Energy tune up
2. Relaxation and stress release
3. Improved sleep
4. Clearing of the mind, which improves memory/concentration and helps achieve goals faster
5. Alleviation of pain
6. Preparation for, and follow up after surgery other medical treatments
7. Enhanced immune system functioning
8. Promotion of overall health and well being
Some of the potential benefits of an intuitive reading are:
1. Guidance concerning the causes behind the client's issues
2. Guidance concerning the client's life challenges
3. Awakening and/or development of the client's own inner guidance and intuition
4. Enhancement of spiritual growth
It is easy to see how combining these two modalities can be very beneficial to people seeking not only healing and release through energy, but also a deeper connection with inner guidance and the causes behind their challenges.
Interested in giving it a try?
I’m currently offering a special promotional rate of $65 for a 1-hour Intuitive Energy Healing Session (regular rate: $75). To book your session or request additional information:
Gisele Marasca-Vargas; 08/03/2016
Essential Reiki - A Complete Guide to an Ancient Healing Guide, by Diane Stein
Self-hypnosis is the self-induced form of hypnosis through which you make use of self-suggestions and affirmations. Self-hypnosis can help reinforce the work done during guided sessions. In a way, all hypnosis is a form of self-hypnosis. Different techniques can be used, either on your own or with a hypnotherapist as your guide. But even when you engage the help of a hypnotherapist, it's your subconscious doing the work of opening up to and accepting suggestions for positive change. The more motivated you are, the better it works. Most people are capable of reaching a hypnotic state, as long as they are motivated to do so.
• Define your goal, being as clear and specific as possible. And then think about suggestions and affirmations that can help you achieve your goals, along with imagery, symbols, etc, which you relate with and will make it easier for you to visualize your goals. You can also choose to write up a script outline or a full script.
• Choose no more than one or two goals per session. Otherwise, you might overload your subconscious and end up by not achieving what you want. Also, try to keep it realistic and simple.
• Try practicing 15 to 20 minutes per day. You can do it sitting down or lying in bed, right before going to sleep. You should expect to make positive changes that will benefit your life, based upon the suggestions given during hypnosis. You can also add a post-hypnotic suggestion to make it easier to achieve a self-hypnotic state every time. In addition, you can choose to record your session and play it every day.
• Choose a quiet place and make himself comfortable. If you’d like, you can gauge the effectiveness of your session by choosing a number from 1 to 10 that represents the intensity of your discomfort (stress, anxiety, etc) or challenge. At the end of the session you can assess yourself again by choosing a number from 1 to 10 and checking if it decreased.
• Use your voice, making it normal in the beginning of the session, then making it softer and slowing it down as he proceeded. Eventually you might get to the point where you don't need to speak it out loud; saying it silently in your mind can be just as effective.
• Separate your hands and feet (to stay open and receptive to the process), close your eyes when you are ready and start helping yourself relax by using deep breathing and progressive relaxation techniques to allow your mind to get calmer and clearer. You can use some imagery at that point, such as a liquid relaxation that spreads throughout your body, from head to toes.
• Use a deepening technique such as counting down (with or without imagery) to reach a deeper level of relaxation.
• Create your safe place or inner world using imagery and trying to engage all your senses for best results. Use your imagination! Or you can choose a more direct and authoritative approach.
• Include positive affirmations and self-suggestions to reach your goal, repeating them as much as possible. Make them positive and keep them in the present, such as: “I am calm and peaceful; I feel completely stress-free,” rather than “I will be calm and peaceful and not feel stress anymore.” The subconscious responds better to positive affirmations and often doesn’t recognize negatives.
• You can also choose to end with a post-hypnotic suggestion for continuing benefits, as well as to make it easier to achieve self-hypnotic trance next time.
• Count yourself back up, while taking the opportunity to reaffirm your goals. Example:
5... I’m getting ready to return from my positive experience.
4... I’m very satisfied with the changes that have taken place.
3... I’m more in touch with the room around me.
2... The mind and the body are returning back to normal.
1... I am refreshed, feeling calm and peaceful, wide awake and completely stress-free.”
• Assess yourself again, and practice whenever possible.
FINAL THOUGHT: Self-hypnosis is a great self-empowerment tool that can be very effective. Give it a try!
Gisele Marasca-Vargas; 07/13/2016
After the shooting at the Pulse nightclub, a local Lutheran church which has an outreach program with the LGBT community joined forces with other churches and organizations around the country to invite 12 comfort dogs to come to Orlando. These wonderful dogs were brought to work with injured victims and their relatives, the family members and friends of those who lost their lives, and the emergency workers in attendance. They helped provide temporary calm and consolation to those in need during a traumatic week. It was heart-warming to see them at work, to watch their interaction with so many people in need of healing. Many people would just start crying as they petted the dogs. Comfort dogs (and animals in general) have the capacity to pick up the emotions of those who pet them, and are great listeners who don’t judge and offer unconditional love. They also help make it safe for people in pain to drop their guard and express their feelings.
Humans and animals have always shared a strong bond. Anyone who has a connection with their animal companions understands how rewarding it is. This bond has often been a source of solace and relief for those who suffer from physical or emotional pain. But a growing body of scientific research is showing that our pets can also help make us healthy, or healthier. That helps explain why Pet Therapy (which includes Animal-Assisted Therapy or AAT, and other Animal-Assisted activities) is a growing field, having gained a lot of popularity over the last few years. There has been an increasing use of animals (mostly dogs and cats; but also horses, birds and fish) in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, jails and mental institutions.
According to Aubrey Fine, a clinical psychologist and professor at California State Polytechnic University, the use of pets in medical settings dates back more than 150 years. But it was only in the late 1970s that researchers started to discover the science behind it, and a great number of studies have been published since.
For years, animals have been used with great benefit in the treatment of the elderly and the terminally ill. Animal-Assisted Therapy has also been shown to help children who have experienced abuse or neglect, as well as patients undergoing chemotherapy or other difficult medical treatments. These days, AAT is also helping sufferers of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The use of pets for assisting veterans and their families who are struggling to cope with the effects of wartime military service is becoming more common, due to the many success stories of pets helping PTSD patients greatly reduce their symptoms. Studies reveal a high success rate with the use of dogs, cats, birds, horses and even dolphins in PTSD treatment. According to an Elements Behavioral Health’s blog article (Animal Therapy Is Making Strides In The Treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), “in one study of the effect of dogs with patients, psychologists noted an 82% reduction in symptoms. One particular case noted that interacting with the dog for as little as one week, enabled a patient to decrease the amount of anxiety and sleep medications by half.” The studies have been so encouraging that the Department of Defense is investing close to $300,000 in this type of treatment.
Pet Therapy can also help patients with OCD and other psychiatric conditions. Have you watched America’s Got Talent lately? Here’s a touching video of a person with a disabling form of OCD who says that his dog has changed his life. They obviously share a strong connection, which anyone can notice when they perform together:
Patrick and Ginger - Amazing Dog Act - America's Got Talent - June 28, 2016
(Note: There’s an intro about other animal acts; wait a couple of minutes for Patrick and his dog Ginger or find his pre-performance interview on the video.)
Some of the many reasons why Pet Therapy works:
1) Animal companions require care and attention, which keeps the patients busy, active and distracted from their health challenges. They also reinforce rehabilitation behavior in patients (for instance, by getting them to walk or throw a ball).
2) Animal companions offer unconditional love, which is the most healing feeling anyone can receive.
3) Animal companions inspire altruistic love. By doing something for another being, a person can reduce depression. Loving others is a depression antidote.
4) Animal companions are wonderfully accepting creatures. As I mentioned above, they make great non-judgmental listeners, providing a safe space for emotions to be expressed.
5) Animal companions lower blood pressure, relieve stress, reduce anxiety, boost the immune system and more. Countless studies show the health benefits of riding a horse, playing with a dog or a cat, etc.
In short, Pet Therapy can promote healing of mind, body and spirit in many children, adults and seniors suffering from countless different issues. And one of the best things about therapy that involves animal companions is that it goes both ways. Animals also benefit from their special bond with their human companions and can find healing along with their caretakers; especially animals commissioned from shelters, who often have a history of abuse and neglect. It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved.
Gisele Marasca-Vargas; 06/29/2016
In A Shaken Orlando, Comfort Dogs Arrive With “Unconditional Love”
Pet Therapy: Man’s Best Friend As Healer
Animal Therapy is Making Strides In The Treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Pet Therapy: How Animals And Humans Help Each Other
Is mental the new normal?
According to NAMI - National Alliance on Mental Illness, approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. (which corresponds to 43.8 million or 18.5%) experiences mental illness in a given year; and approximately 1 in 25 adults in the U.S. (corresponding to 10 million or 4.2%) experiences a serious mental illness in a given year that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities (for more numbers, please see link under References). That means a staggering amount of people with some level of mental health challenge. Considering that a whole lot of people don’t seek help and go undiagnosed, the real numbers are likely to be even scarier.
No wonder words like OCD, OCPD, bipolar, borderline personality disorder, schizophrenia, PTSD, chronic depression, etc, have become commonplace. Look around yourself. How many friends or family members display behavior that has been qualified as (or suggested to be) a mental health disorder of some kind? Or look in the mirror. When was the last time you’ve felt emotionally, mentally and physically (not to mention spiritually) healthy and balanced? Have you or someone you know been diagnosed with a mental health challenge, or do you suspect you or someone you know might have such a challenge?
The even bigger question is: are we all going mental, at least to some degree? And where is it coming from? Being out of touch with ourselves and our innermost needs? The stress and lack of balance of modern living, along with excessive exposure to technology and information overload? Unhealthy foods? Contaminated water? Polluted air? Probably all of the above and more. But one thing is certain: when a system says that a big chunk of the population has some type of mental health issue that requires medication, maybe it’s time to change a lot of things in that system. Mere common sense dictates that something is seriously wrong with that picture.
Antidepressants vs. Placebo
To top it all, in the past few years there have been plenty of studies which show that certain drugs have no more benefits than placebos for many health issues. One example: antidepressants. Although they can help people suffering from extreme depression, their effectiveness for mild to moderate depression is about the same as placebos, with a minimal difference considered to be clinically insignificant (please see some of these studies under References). So the people who are feeling better by taking these drugs are doing so largely due to the placebo effect, not the chemicals in the drug. However, a lot of people with mild to moderate depression are still being prescribed antidepressants on a regular basis, notwithstanding the facts that their effectiveness has become questionable, they often cause many bad side effects and have high potential risks which include addiction. In addition, they mostly serve to cover up the deeper causes of depression.
What to do?
On a personal level, we really need to take a good look into what we’ve made of our lives and try to make better, healthier choices in relation to work, career, life path, people we choose to be in relationships with, forms of entertainment, etc. Looking at the bigger picture, we also need to intensify efforts to stop further contamination and destruction of our environment, and expedite damage control and sustainable solutions.
We can start by trying alternatives to prescription drugs for issues such as anxiety and depression, among others, as follows:
1) Mind-body therapies (if we can change our mind, we can change our body; if we can change our thoughts, we can change our lives): CBT - Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Hypnotherapy, Biofeedback, Creative Arts, Meditation, Prayer, Yoga, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, etc.
2) Exercise, along with proper rest and sleep
3) Massage, Acupuncture, Reflexology, Energy Healing, etc.
4) Light Therapy or Sun Gazing (more on this soon!)
5) Vitamins, supplements and natural antidepressants such as St. John’s wort
6) Aromatherapy, Flower Essences, Homeopathy, etc.
7) Anything that brings us true peace and joy rather than an artificially induced high, including spiritual faith and practices that uplift our souls; love and light; smiles and laugh; music and dance; hopes and dreams; inspiration and passion...
8) Gratitude for everything we have or partake in, including loving family and friends we can be ourselves with; our animal companions and other living beings who share this beautiful planet with us; etc. In short, gratitude for life!
10 Chillaxing some more.
Final Thought: The Placebo Effect serves as a reminder of how powerful the mind is. Let’s put it to good use, and make the choice to be happy!
Gisele Marasca-Vargas; 5/26/16
10 Antidepressant Alternatives Proven to Work: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2009/01/29/10-antidepressant-alternatives-proven-to-work.aspx
Mind-Body Therapies: http://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/explore-healing-practices/what-are-mind-body-therapies
Popular Drugs May Help Only Severe Depression: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/06/health/views/06depress.html?_r=0
Anti Depressant Drug Effects and Depression Severity: http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=185157
Treating Depression: Is There a Placebo Effect? (60 Minutes video): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zihdr36WVi4&feature=youtu.be
The Challenge (or One of Them)
We live in a time period when a lot is expected and even demanded of anyone who's on their way to awareness (or trying to get there). And it doesn't make any difference where on our paths we might be; we are not being cut any slack. A lot of us can't help but feeling overwhelmingly pressured to perform, to become someone many of us don't feel quite ready to be (even assuming we know for sure who we want to become or what we want to do).
Everyone and everything around are inspiring (or rather, urging) us to take major action, and immediately. Something about the fact that we don't have a lot of time left. The news. The prophets. New Age books. Movies such as An Inconvenient Truth, Fast Food Nation, Supersize Me, Sicko, etc. Everywhere you turn, it's doomsday approaching by the minute. It's do or die. Although all that information is very necessary and fulfilling a vital service by educating us, one of its common side effects is that of creating a state of paranoia and panic, and freezing a lot of well-meaning but overwhelmed people into depression and inaction (not to mention that, according to the law of attraction, it can actually reinforce this very reality we want so much to change). The current political (and socio-economical) climate doesn’t help one bit.
Like so many, for a long time I had also felt that I should be doing something about it. I went through a period of confusion during which I desperately tried to figure out what, how, which, when. And, more specifically, who I had to become to participate, to contribute. "Become" being the operative word. I did not believe that I could just choose to do something, to participate, to create without becoming somebody else first. As in, becoming better; improving myself as a person. Not that I have anything against the idea that we all should put an effort into connecting with and expressing our best selves. I believe that's one of the reasons we come here: to remember who we really are, and ultimately make that choice. It's just that, in my mind, I often felt I was not even worthy of initiating any change process because I was not good enough. I didn't believe that if I just followed my heart, chose something I care about and made it happen, even if it were on a small scale, that I would really be making a difference. As I was influenced by our modern culture, which is filled with so many amazing people doing things in the grandest possible styles, I thought that whatever changes I made, they would have to be on a much larger scale. It seemed like hard footsteps to follow. Just too much for little ol' me.
And so I read all about how to build an organic garden and do composting and save water and energy, etc, etc, etc. And then I watched movies and documentaries about the environment and felt inspired (or shamed) into doing something about it. And then I saved all the web site links and their huge lists of things to do. At first, my intention was to go all out; but then, for lack of time or money or energy or simply for being lazy, all I managed to do in the end was to neatly organize bookmarks of informative websites for future use... and buy a few eco-friendly light bulbs.
Until I decided to stop trying to become someone I'm not, and find my own small way to help by doing something I enjoy, am good at and can have fun with: becoming a wellness practitioner, and writing articles to hopefully help break it down for other people like me.
What's Next, Then?
Here are 11 steps I suggest you consider if you’re feeling lost and confused about your studies, work, career, calling, life path, etc, and trying to figure out a way to contribute to positive change while following your bliss:
1) Chillax.* Take a deep breath, take a walk, meditate, give yourself a break.
(*This slang made up of the contraction between “chill” and “relax” used to be a thing. Then older adults started overusing it, so it’s considered lame and even archaic now; but I still like it and I think it works here. So, there.)
2) Chillax some more.
3) Realize that you are the only one who can decide what works for you. There's no wrong way or right way. There's only your way, my way, and everyone else's infinite own ways.
4) Decide to have fun in your life. This is very important: first thing you do when you wake up is to ask to have fun and prepare to be surprised. Expect it. Believe it. Pursue it. And watch it happen. Everything else falls into place.
5) Understand that you don't have to be or become perfect (whatever your perception of perfection happens to be) to deserve that good things happen to you, and to decide to participate in this amazing shift that's happening in our world right now. In other words:
You don't “gotta” become anything.
You just gotta be.
You be, and in the being the best you can manage to be at this very moment in your life, you'll eventually find yourself and your way.
6) Whichever way it goes, it's all good. Sure, human civilization as we know it might end in this planet if we don't act quickly enough. However, there are also a lot of people out there already working to make a difference, as we speak. And in the end, as my yoga teacher said, whichever way it goes it's all good. And it's certainly not going to do us any good to constantly worry about it....
7) So, go at your own pace. Your timing is just right for you. Just because your favorite guru or your next-door neighbor already got enlightened and found their mission, it doesn't mean you have to rush out and try to get a bigger one for yourself. I mean, the pressure to keep up!!! Just try to do what you can, without worrying if you're doing enough, or doing it quickly enough and, most importantly, without worrying about what anybody else is doing or not doing.
8) There's no such thing as missing your opportunity to do anything in life. There’s always another opportunity where that one came from.
9) Think baby steps. In the end, it's the little things, the tiny steps, the small ways that make a difference. Every single, minute action counts. You are here and now to take only one step to begin with.
10) And finally, but most importantly: enjoy yourself in the process. If you are not enjoying yourself, try something else. In the end, it's all about You. Yes, You. So, be gentle with yourself, and be merry!
11) In case you start following the steps above and get busy, tired, sick, overwhelmed, overworked, disheartened, discouraged, fed up, lazy, etc, and then give up, step # 11 is here just to remind you to give yourself a break. When you are ready again, just go back to step #1 and start over!
Choosing Your Step
Just think of something that you would like to be doing to help. Look around your home, or think about your family, friends, school, work, hobbies, community, or whatever you connect the most with. The choices are virtually limitless. If there's anything that draws your attention, some area where you feel you can make a difference, even if in very small ways, go for it! You can start by simply picking one action to follow and putting it into practice, until you feel ready to add more to your list. Try not to overwhelm yourself. Unless you do feel like choosing several things and starting to change the world right away; then, by all means, go ahead and follow your instincts. If at any point you become overwhelmed, try not to get discouraged and drop everything; instead, remember you can always cut back and/or change your choices.
C’mon, Can One Small Step Really Make A Difference?
YES!!! Think about the proverbial small pebble creating the ripple effect when tossed in the lake. Think about any other frequently used metaphor in relation to the huge power of small actions; or create your own! Whatever it takes to get you going. But take that step. And then another, and another, and another. Just try it and see.
Final Thought: Remember that even a tiny step is better than doing nothing. And don't forget to HAVE FUN!
Gisele Marasca-Vargas; 05/18/2016