9 Mind-Bending Epiphanies That Turned My World Upside-Down

9 Mind-Bending Epiphanies That Turned My World Upside-Down

on 6 November, 2013 at 20:58

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Over the years I’ve learned dozens of little tricks and insights for making life more fulfilling. They’ve added up to a significant improvement in the ease and quality of my day-to-day life. But the major breakthroughs have come from a handful of insights that completely rocked my world and redefined reality forever.

The world now seems to be a completely different one than the one I lived in about ten years ago, when I started looking into the mechanics of quality of life. It wasn’t the world (and its people) that changed really, it was how I thought of it.

Maybe you’ve had some of  the same insights. Or maybe you’re about to.

1. You are not your mind.

The first time I heard somebody say that,  I didn’t like the sound of it one bit. What else could I be? I had taken for granted that the mental chatter in my head was the central “me” that all the experiences in my life were happening to.

I see quite clearly now that life is nothing but passing experiences, and my thoughts are just one more category of things I experience. Thoughts are no more fundamental than smells, sights and sounds. Like any experience, they arise in my awareness, they have a certain texture, and then they give way to something else.

If you can observe your thoughts just like you can observe other objects, who’s doing the observing? Don’t answer too quickly. This question, and its unspeakable answer, are at the center of all the great religions and spiritual traditions.

2. Life unfolds only in moments.

Of course! I once called this the most important thing I ever learned. Nobody has ever experienced anything that wasn’t part of a single moment unfolding. That means life’s only challenge is dealing with the single moment you are having right now. Before I recognized this, I was constantly trying to solve my entire life — battling problems that weren’t actually happening. Anyone can summon the resolve to deal with a single, present moment, as long as they are truly aware that it’s their only point of contact with life, and therefore there is nothing else one can do that can possibly be useful. Nobody can deal with the past or future, because, both only exist as thoughts, in the present. But we can kill ourselves trying.

3. Quality of life is determined by how you deal with your moments, not which moments happen and which don’t.

I now consider this truth to be Happiness 101, but it’s amazing how tempting it still is to grasp at control of every circumstance to try to make sure I get exactly what I want. To encounter an undesirable situation and work with it willingly is the mark of a wise and happy person. Imagine getting a flat tire, falling ill at a bad time, or knocking something over and breaking it — and suffering nothing from it. There is nothing to fear if you agree with yourself to deal willingly with adversity whenever it does show up. That is how to make life better. The typical, low-leverage method is to hope that you eventually accumulate power over your circumstances so that you can get what you want more often. There’s an excellent line in a Modest Mouse song, celebrating this side-effect of wisdom:  As life gets longer, awful feels softer.

4. Most of life is imaginary.

Human beings have a habit of compulsive thinking that is so pervasive that we lose sight of the fact that we are nearly always thinking. Most of what we interact with is not the world itself, but our beliefs about it, our expectations of it, and our personal interests in it. We have a very difficult time observing something without confusing it with the thoughts we have about it, and so the bulk of what we experience in life is imaginary things. As Mark Twain said: “I’ve been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.” The best treatment I’ve found? Cultivating mindfulness.

5. Human beings have evolved to suffer, and we are better at suffering than anything else.

Yikes. It doesn’t sound like a very liberating discovery. I used to believe that if I was suffering it meant that there was something wrong with me — that I was doing life “wrong.” Suffering is completely human and completely normal, and there is a very good reason for its existence. Life’s persistent background hum of “this isn’t quite okay, I need to improve this,” coupled with occasional intense flashes of horror and adrenaline are what kept human beings alive for millions of years. This urge to change or escape the present moment drives nearly all of our behavior. It’s a simple and ruthless survival mechanism which works exceedingly well for keeping us alive, but it has a horrific side effect: human beings suffer greatly by their very nature. This, for me, redefined every one of life’s problems as some tendril of the human condition. As grim as it sounds, this insight is liberating because it means: 1) that suffering does not necessarily mean my life is going wrong, 2) that the ball is always in my court, so the degree to which I suffer is ultimately up to me, and 3) that all problems have the same cause and the same solution.

6. Emotions exist to make us biased.

This discovery was a complete 180 from my old understanding of emotions. I used to think my emotions were reliable indicators of the state of my life — of whether I’m on the right track or not. Your passing emotional states can’t be trusted for measuring your self-worth or your position in life, but they are great at teaching you what it is you can’t let go of. The trouble is that emotions make us both more biased and more forceful at the same time. Another survival mechanism with nasty side-effects.

7. All people operate from the same two motivations: to fulfill their desires and to escape their suffering.

Learning this allowed me to finally make sense of how people can hurt each other so badly. The best explanation I had before this was that some people are just bad. What a cop-out. No matter what kind of behavior other people exhibit, they are acting in the most effective way they are capable of (at that moment) to fulfill a desire or to relieve their suffering. These are motives we can all understand; we only vary in method, and the methods each of us has at our disposal depend on our upbringing and our experiences in life, as well as our state of consciousness. Some methods are skillful and helpful to others, others are unskillful and destructive, and almost all destructive behavior is unconscious. So there is no good and evil, only smart and dumb (or wise and foolish.) Understanding this completely shook my long-held notions of morality and justice.

8. Beliefs are nothing to be proud of.

Believing something is not an accomplishment. I grew up thinking that beliefs are something to be proud of, but they’re really nothing but opinions one refuses to reconsider. Beliefs are easy. The stronger your beliefs are, the less open you are to growth and wisdom, because “strength of belief” is only the intensity with which you resist questioning yourself. As soon as you are proud of a belief, as soon as you think it adds something to who you are, then you’ve made it a part of your ego. Listen to any “die-hard” conservative or liberal talk about their deepest beliefs and you are listening to somebody who will never hear what you say on any matter that matters to them — unless you believe the same. It is gratifying to speak forcefully, it is gratifying to be agreed with, and this high is what the die-hards are chasing. Wherever there is a belief, there is a closed door. Take on the beliefs that stand up to your most honest, humble scrutiny, and never be afraid to lose them.

9. Objectivity is subjective.

Life is a subjective experience and that cannot be escaped. Every experience I have comes through my own, personal, unsharable viewpoint. There can be no peer reviews of my direct experience, no real corroboration. This has some major implications for how I live my life. The most immediate one is that I realize I must trust my own personal experience, because nobody else has this angle, and I only have this angle. Another is that I feel more wonder for the world around me, knowing that any “objective” understanding I claim to have of the world is built entirely from scratch, by me. What I do build depends on the books I’ve read, the people I’ve met, and the experiences I’ve had. It means I will never see the world quite like anyone else, which means I will never live in quite the same world as anyone else — and therefore I mustn’t let outside observers be the authority on who I am or what life is really like for me. Subjectivity is primary experience — it is real life, and objectivity is something each of us builds on top of it in our minds, privately, in order to explain it all. This truth has world-shattering implications for the roles of religion and science in the lives of those who grasp it.

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Oil pulling for (dental) health Detoxification, fixing loose teeth, cavities & bleeding gums, tooth whitening and more

General introduction, background and instructions how and when to do oil pulling

See Oil Pulling Therapy: Effective Natural Detoxification, Stimulation of Elimination, Self-Help Cure and Prevention of Many Diseases Incl. Cancer?.

Oil pulling for oral detox, fixing loose teeth and cavities, strengthening teeth, stopping sensitivity, tooth decay & abscesses, eliminating bleeding gums

Oil pulling has been credited with a number of astounding oral health benefits since the times of Ayurveda, the oldest holistic healing system we know of. In Ayurveda, oil pulling is called “KAVALA GRAHAM”, and the Charaka Samhita sutra sthana chapter  states that “by oil pulling with til-taila (sesame oil), teeth are not affected with cavities and they become firm-rooted. Toothache and sensitivity to sour items will be healed and one will be able to chew the hardest items.”

According to oilpulling.org, Dr. Karach MD, the “author” of oil pulling, said: “The oil therapy heals tooth pain totally. Obvious results are re-fixing of loose teeth1 [which no dentist is able to do] the stopping of bleeding gums and the whitening of teeth.” Apparently, oil pulling also removes dental infections, stops further tooth decay, and reduces/eliminates sensitivity of teeth. Quote: “[Oil pulling] is analgesic in relieving pain, antibiotic in eliminating infection, anabolic in fixing loose teeth, reduces sensitivity of teeth like sensodant and also ensures oral hygiene. OP makes this possible by its influence on the nervous system, endocrine and immune systems towards a state of balance-is health-from an unbalanced state-ill health.”

Other oral benefits reported include the cleaning of a tongue that had been coated with a white-yellowish film,  the healing of aphtous ulcers and a salivary gland infection, no more tartar forming, a growth in the parotid gland which developed after starting oil pulling (likely incipient beforehand) completely healed within six weeks in combination with an exclusively raw food diet.

Sample oil pulling dental benefits testimonials

“I have been oil pulling with sunflower oil for over three years on a regular basis and I am sold. It was upon the advice of my dentist that I tried it.  My gums have much improved, since starting the routine redness, swellling and infections are gone, some of my teeth have become firmly reimplanted in their sockets! Additionally I’ve practically gotten rid of all tartar. Also no more sore throats and apart from a bit of sniffles at one point, hardly any colds worth mentioning! But that’s no wonder considering that all toxins and bacteria are bound to the oil and spat out.” (translated from the German by © Healing Teeth Naturally)

“….super-clean feeling in my mouth after oil pulling.”…”best and quickest remedy I have found for sensitive teeth is oil pulling with extra virgin olive oil”… “swishing with coconut oil2 several times a week…my yellow canine teeth have whitened considerably (I have tried without success bleaching, baking soda and peroxide, etc.) [and] my sensitivity in my teeth has decreased dramatically.”

“I have always had sensitive and really weak teeth [but after one month of oil pulling] no tingling feeling and just an overall healthy feel in my mouth”, “oil pulling has … reinforced … loose molar”, “At first, my breath stank but I stuck with it and [after six weeks of oil pulling] my breath is now fresh and my teeth are strong”,  “I had a brown discolored tooth and after 2 pulls the brown is gone. [Previously] I have had my teeth cleaned many times by a dentist and still had that brown tooth…”.

Last but not least, personally I find oil pulling helpful to dislodge stuck food particles from between my teeth (particularly those I wasn’t even aware of and which vigorous water rinsing hadn’t managed to budge!).

Scientific research into oil pulling’s dental health benefits

1. Effect of oil pulling on Streptococcus mutans  count in plaque and saliva

http://www.jisppd.com/article.asp?issn=0970-4388;year=2008;volume=26;issue=1;spage=12;epage=17;aulast=Asokan

Researchers S Asokan, J Rathan, MS Muthu, Prabhu V Rathna, P Emmadi, Raghuraman, and Chamundeswari at the Meenakshi Ammal Dental College, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India, studied the  “Effect of oil pulling on Streptococcus mutans  count in plaque and saliva using Dentocult SM Strip mutans test: A randomized, controlled, triple-blind study”.
Particularly, the study aimed “to evaluate the effect of oil pulling with sesame oil on the count of Streptococcus mutans in plaque and saliva of children, using the Dentocult SM Strip mutans test, and to compare its efficacy with that of chlorhexidine mouthwash.” (published in the Journal of Indian Society of Pedodontics and Preventive Dentistry)

2. Effect of oil pulling on plaque-induced gingivitis: A randomized, controlled, triple-blind study

http://www.ijdr.in/article.asp?issn=0970-9290;year=2009;volume=20;issue=1;spage=47;epage=51;aulast=Asokan

Researchers Sharath Asokan, Pamela Emmadi and Raghuraman Chamundeswari of the Meenakshi Ammal Dental College, Chennai, India, studied the effect of oil pulling on plaque induced gingivitis (published in the Indian Journal of Dental Research, this is a similar or identical study to number 1 above).

3. Effect of oil pulling therapy on dental caries (streptococcus mutans count in plaque and saliva) as well as plaque-induced gingivitis

http://iadr.confex.com/iadr/2008Toronto/techprogram/abstract_105440.htm

Researchers A. Sharath, J. Jeevarathan, M.S. Muthu, V. Rathnaprabu, E. Pamela, R. Raghuraman and G.S. Chamundeswari at the Meenakshi Ammal Dental College & Hospital, Chennai, India, studied oil pulling with the objective of assessing “the efficacy of an Indian folk remedy, oil pulling therapy using Sesame oil (Idhayam oil) on oral health status”. Randomized controlled triple blind clinical trials were performed evaluating the effect of oil pulling therapy on dental caries (streptococcus mutans count in plaque and saliva) as well as plaque-induced gingivitis.

4. Effect of oil-pulling on dental-caries-causing bacteria

http://academicjournals.org/journal/AJMR/article-full-text-pdf/21CA7A911094

Researchers T. Durai Anand, C. Pothiraj, R. M. Gopinath and B. Kayalvizhi of the PG Department of Microbiology, V. H. N. S. N. College, Virudhunagar- 626 001, India, studied the “Effect of oil-pulling on dental caries causing bacteria”.

“The effect of oil-pulling on the reduction of total count of bacteria was determined. There was a remarkable reduction in the total count of bacteria. The process of oil-pulling reduced the susceptibility of a host to dental caries. The in-vitro antibacterial activity of sesame oil against dental caries causing bacteria was determined. Streptococcus mutans and Lactobacillus acidophilus were found to be moderately sensitive to the sesame oil.”

5. Effect of Oil Pulling on Plaque & Gingivitis

http://www.johcd.org/pdf/Effect_of_Oil_Pulling_on_Plaque_and_Gingivitis.pdf

Researchers HV Amith, Anil V Ankola, L Nagesh of the Department of Preventive and Community Dentistry, KLES Institute of Dental Sciences, Belgaum, Karnataka, India, studied the “Effect of Oil Pulling on Plaque and Gingivitis” (published in the Journal of Oral Health & Community Dentistry).

6. Effect of oil pulling on halitosis and microorganisms causing halitosis: A randomized controlled pilot trial

http://www.jisppd.com/article.asp?issn=0970-4388;year=2011;volume=29;issue=2;spage=90;epage=94;aulast=Asokan

Published in the Journal of the Indian Society of Pedodontics and Preventive Dentistry in 2011, this study compared the efficacy of oil pulling to that of chlorhexidine mouthwash. The researchers found that oil pulling therapy was equally effective as chlorhexidine for halitosis and the associated microorganisms. (A very impressive result considering the antimicrobial power of chlorhexidine.)

7. Mechanism of oil-pulling therapy – in vitro study

http://www.ijdr.in/article.asp?issn=0970-9290;year=2011;volume=22;issue=1;spage=34;epage=37;aulast=Asokan

This study aimed to determine whether the claimed effects of oil-pulling therapy on oral health were just due to placebo.

8. Apparently, in an experiment conducted in 1992 at the Maharishi University of Management (then called Maharishi International University), in Fairfield, Iowa, students rinsing their mouths with sesame oil showed an 85% reduction in the bacteria which cause gingivitis after six weeks of twice daily rinsing.3

Oil pulling and dental pain: sample testimonials

Oil pulling and toothache: after initially successfully trying salt water, beet green/spinach leaf/blackstrap molasses, a man told me that he “switched to oil pulling and had gotten more permanent results with that for my toothache as far as pain”.

A similar experience of first using salt water and then oil pulling with sesame oil which helped against toothache reads, “I have a tooth that the dentist did a root canal on and left it without a cap – result it got chipped and finally crumbled leaving a major hole. I did not feel anything for months since the pulp was dead but 2 days back I started feeling searing pain. So much so that I was ready to run to a dentist and beg that it be pulled off. Then I went to your site and read about salt water rinse. Tried it and on day 1- the pain completely disappeared. Second day however when I tried it again as my tooth hurt, it worked for a minute but the pain was back even stronger. I kept rinsing and the pain kept getting worse. I finally took some sesame oil in my mouth and started to oil pull. OMG OMG!!! The pain has been gone for 2 days now. Every time I drink something hot or cold – it starts again but I oil pull with sesame oil and it disappears. Hope this helps readers find relief from the toothache monster.”

Another person wrote that “[within 3 days of] doing this [oil pulling] practice the pain [from a loose painful tooth] was eliminated completely” and the tooth solidly set.

Oil pulling has provided help with pain from braces: “I had my braces tightened this morning. My teeth were killing me all day, then when I got home, I took a dessert spoonful of ‘cold pressed, unrefined sesame oil’ and oil pulled. It really helped and now my teeth don’t hurt as much, so if you know anyone who has braces, tell them!”7

Oil pulling has afforded help with pain from temporo-mandibular joint (jaw joint) disease and fibromyalgia: “I did not think I would be able to do this for 15 minutes due to jaw pain but after 2 1/2 minutes my jaw pain left. The stiffness, pain and soreness in my body was gone before the 15 minutes was up. I have been suffering from fibromyalgia since 1991 and this is the only thing I have tried that gave me immediately relief.”

Oil pulling helped remove large amounts of sore scar tissue in a person’s mouth which had been a source of discomfort for over 30 years and where nothing else had provided relief: “I’ve been oil pulling with cold-pressed organic sunflower oil approximately 25 minutes for almost three years now… Since I started oil pulling, I’ve noticed and felt an incredible difference in my teeth, gums and general oral health. My mouth has completely regenerated… no more plaque, no more scar tissue, healthy gums and amazingly white and strong teeth.” (This person has not been to the dentist for two years since.)

Oil pulling effects:
testing your saliva with pH test strips

Your saliva’s pH is very important for your dental health, see Demineralization/Remineralization).

To see what effect if any oil pulling has on my saliva pH, I have tested oil pulling by using pH test strips, measuring my saliva ph after getting up in the morning, after rinsing and cleaning my mouth with water and finally before and after oil pulling. After oil pulling, my saliva went from pH 8 to 7 to 8 again, i.e. became more acidic and then alkaline again.

Here are my sample results:

  • saliva pH after getting up, measured under tongue: c. 6.4
  • saliva pH after cleaning mouth with water, measured under tongue: c. 8
  • saliva mixed with sunflower oil pH after c. 15 min. of oil pulling: c. 7
  • saliva pH after cleaning mouth of oil via water rinsing: c. 8

Vegetable oils apparently are very weak acids so it is unlikely that the dramatic lowering of pH from 8 to 7 was due to my mixing my saliva with oil but rather can be explained by acid toxins or food residues being drawn during oil pulling from the mouth, from between the teeth etc.

Oil pulling and amalgam fillings

According to a German naturopath, people who carry amalgam fillings shouldn’t do oil pulling since such a practice would draw even more noxious substances from the fillings into the mouth. I enquired with oilpulling.org asking them to comment but they had no data on this subject. 

On the other hand, thanks to site visitor JR I learned that there is at least one person who has mercury amalgams in  every single tooth and who reports having only experienced benefits with oil pulling. Oil pulling or not, it is to be hoped that the amalgams won’t catch up with him at some point.6

Personally having no amalgam fillings I use oil pulling every day, and considering the potential benefits, I suggest you try including oil pulling in your dental routine as well. In case you should feel any initial aversion, it’s worth trying to overcome it… (remember – you are worth it ;-).

Oil pulling and implants (and other dental work)

Apparently, oil pulling can help with the healing process after dental implant surgery. According to a comment by an experienced user found on the internet, oil pulling is safe to do even with a mouth full of various dental restorations – from fillings and crowns to root canals and dental implants. Considering that the more dental work one has had done, the more places exist for bacteria to hide (and the greater the chances of dental toxicity), gentle oil pulling could be helpful in keeping the mouth and jaw clean.5

Oil pulling and damaged fillings or cracked teeth

I have not personally heard or experienced the following but wanted to pass on a warning I found on the internet maintaining that a number of people have reported pre-damaged teeth splitting while oil pulling and that they might wish to consult a dentist before starting the practice. Another one reported that after trying oil pulling a filling was loosened and all or part of the filling fell out.

On using olive oil for oil pulling

The late erudite father Thomas Häberle, an eminent but little known Swiss naturopath, used olive oil massages to great effect in a number of illnesses. He stressed that he reaped great successes using olive oil for diseases of the bones and head, writing that olive oil is able to penetrate even the hardest bones and  bring healing where it is needed. For this reason it seems ideal to use for oil pulling.

Father Thomas Häberle has left us three small but information-packed books on natural healing two of which have been translated into English, Helping & Healing and Counselling & Curing. Luckily, they are available (and inexpensively at that) via Abebooks.4

(Note: one person actually reported that swishing with olive oil straightened his teeth!)

Oil pulling and essential oils

I frequently add antibacterial essential oils such as peppermint, rosemary or tea tree oil to the oil I use for oil pulling, tastes great and likely does much good in terms of fighting harmful bacteria.

Oil pulling and dry mouth

If you suffer from dry mouth, in addition to hydrating yourself with water and if possible eliminating any root causes (such as certain medications), swirling oil in your mouth may help to eliminate this condition (compare Dry mouth [xerostomia]: on causes, remedies & treatments of inadequate natural production of saliva).

Oil pulling and tooth brushing

Judging by one person’s report that toothbrushing after oil pulling led to increased tooth sensitivity within a week it would seem advisable to not brush one’s teeth after doing oil pulling but if one wishes to brush, to do so beforehand. Conceivably, at least in some  people, oil pulling will cause a temporary softening of the enamel.

Important additional advice to maximise oil pulling’s dental health benefits

Since the oil only “pulls” between teeth and on the gum surfaces, I would always combine it with tongue cleaning to most effectively remove the streptococcus mutans “caries bacteria” which also reside on the tongue (more at Cleaning your tongue).

Interestingly, you may not need to clean your tongue for long since health writer Erika Herbst observes in her book “Die Heilkunst von Morgen” that coated tongues typically yield to oil (or water – see below) pulling over time.

Special tips

1 Pulling with xylitol

Oil pulling in addition to its purported or observed general healing benefits, basically is a particularly thorough way of rinsing one’s mouth. Did you know that you can also rinse your mouth with (special) sugar and help heal cavities and gum disease? This at least is the experience of a number of people who have tried it and found it highly beneficial. For this different type of “pulling” shown to be highly effective against tooth decay and to heal periodontitis, see Rinsing mouth and brushing teeth with xylitol sugar.

2 Pulling with plain water

Perhaps the best news: one can also rinse with pure water and reap similar benefits! For details see Water pulling as effective as oil pulling for teeth and gums? First trial study shows no statistically significant difference in oral bacteria and plaque reduction potential.

And if you use green tea or other herbs or substances with dental health benefits, you should do your teeth, gums and body an even greater favour (see the Dental Care & Oral Hygiene as well as Natural Remedies section for much herbal inspiration).

Creative Father Makes Crazy Photo Manipulations With His Three Daughter

John Wilhelm is a 44-year-old IT Director at a Swiss university with a passion for photography and digital art.  Some of his most wonderfully creative photo manipulations are of his girlfriend Judith and their three young daughters – Lou (5.5 years), Mila (2.8 years) and Yuna (6 months). John agreed to share his awesome work with Bored Panda and give us anJohn‘s photos are surreal and eclectic. “I guess I watched just a little too much TV and played too many videogames when I was a kid,” he said, explaining his many sources of inspiration.

Although the photographs look like much fun, we all know that getting children to work with a photographer can sometimes be difficult. “I guess if you have a healthy emotional connection to your kids they can feel if something is really important for you and then they cooperate (and if they don’t there are still sweets and candies),” John told Bored Panda.

“Most of my images are heavily manipulated but not all of them are compositions. If an image works straight out of the camera I just improve it (beauty retouching, cleanup, level corrections, sharpening, colors and tones, emphasize light, etc.). What I really love is to bring different images together to create something completely new,” John said, explaining his manipulation techniques.

Be sure to read between the photos for more of John’s interview with Bored Panda! And if you like his work, check out these photos by creative dad Jason Lee.

Source: 500px.com | Facebook | johnwilhelm.ch

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When asked about his inspiration, Wilhelm told Bored Panda, “You can’t say exactly where you got a certain inspiration from. I guess I watched just a little too much TV and played too many videogames when I was a kid.

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I had the luck to grow up in a creative family. Creative not particularly in what we did but in what ideas we were talking about, what jokes we were making etc. I think one key to creativity and the ability to work eclectically can be found in childhood and another one, of course, in the genes as well.

 

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If you have a healthy emotional connection to your kids, they can feel if something is really important to you and then they cooperate (and if they don’t there are still sweets and candies). Yeah, sure, sometimes it does not work. For example, if you put a 2 year old in a swimsuit, put her diving-goggles on and hold her up in the air by one leg 😉

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Most of my images are heavily manipulated but not all of them are compositions. If an image works straight out of the camera I just improve it (beauty retouching, cleanup, level corrections, sharpening, colors and tones, emphasize light, etc.). What I really love is to bring different images together to create something completely new.

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A composition like my latest one, ‘Sensitive little Rotkäppchen,’ takes about 3-5 hours. A more complex project like ‘Online and Offlife’ takes 10-20 hours. Most of my work is done with Adobe Photoshop’s CC and NIK filters.

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I think work-life balance is absolutely important. I’m so grateful to have a wonderful family, a regular job and a hobby, which of course is my absolute passion.“ 

 

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Sure, there are those moments when I think about what it would be like to spend much more time on certain projects. To make my passion a profession. But if I made photography my profession, what would my hobby be? 😉

 

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Making of:

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Once again, we’d like to thank John Wilhelm for sharing his light-spirited work with us and agreeing to answer our questions.

 

Source:  http://www.boredpanda.com/creative-dad-children-photo-manipulations-john-wilhelm/

How Plants Help Each Other Grow By Near-Telepathic Communication

https://i1.wp.com/themindunleashed.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/plantss-is-1050x656.jpg

Plants have scientifically been show to draw alternative sources of energy from other plants. Plants influence each other in many ways and they communicate through “nanomechanical oscillations” vibrations on the tiniest atomic or molecular scale or as close as you can get to telepathic communication.

Members of Professor Dr. Olaf Kruse’s biological research team have previously shown that green algae not only engages in photosynthesis, but also has an alternative source of energy: it can draw it from other plants. His research findings were released in the online journal Nature Communications.

Other research published last year, showed that young corn roots made clicking sounds, and that when suspended in water they would lean towards sounds made in the same frequency range (about 220 Hz). So it seemed that plants do emit and react to sound, and the researchers wanted to delve into this idea further.

Working with chili plants in their most recent study, specifically Capsicum annuum, they first grew chili seeds on their own and then in the presence of other chili plants, basil and fennel, and recorded their rates of germination and growth. Fennel is considered an aggressive plant that hinders the germination of other plants around it, while basil is generally considered to be a beneficial plant for gardening and an ideal companion for chili plants.

Germination rates were fairly low when the seeds were grown on their own, lower when grown in the presence of fennel (as expected). Germination rates were better with other chili plants around, and even better with basil.

Since plants are already known to ‘talk’ through chemical signals and to react to light, the researchers separated newly planted seeds from the other plants using black plastic, to block any other kind of ‘signaling’ other than through sound. When fennel was on the other side of the plastic, the chemical effects of its presence, which would have inhibited germination of the chili seeds, were blocked. The chili seeds grew much quicker than normal though, possibly because they still ‘knew’ the fennel was there, ‘knew’ it had the potential to have a negative effect on their germination, and so they quickly got past the stage where they were vulnerable.

If even bacteria can signal one another with vibrations, why not plants, said Monica Gagliano, a plant physiologist at the University of Western Australia in Crawley.

Gagliano imagines that root-to-root alerts could transform a forest into an organic switchboard. “Considering that entire forests are all interconnected by networks of fungi, maybe plants are using fungi the way we use the Internet and sending acoustic signals through this Web. From here, who knows,” she said.

As with other life, if plants do send messages with sound, it is one of many communication tools. More work is needed to bear out Gagliano’s claims, but there are many ways that listening to plants already bears fruit.

According to the study: “This demonstrated that plants were able to sense their neighbours even when all known communication channels are blocked (i.e. light, chemicals and touch) and most importantly, recognize the potential for the interfering presence of a ‘bad neighbour’ and modify their growth accordingly.”

Then, to test if they could see similar effects with a ‘good neighbour’, they tried the same experiment with other chili plants and then with basil. When there were fully-grown chili plants in their presence blocked by the plastic, the seeds showed some improved germination (“partial response”). When basil was on the other side of the plastic, they found that the seeds grew just as well as when the plastic wasn’t there.

“Our results show that plants are able to positively influence growth of seeds by some as yet unknown mechanism,” said Dr. Monica Gagliano, an evolutionary biologist at UWA and co-author of the study, according to BioMed Central. “Bad neighbors, such as fennel, prevent chili seed germination in the same way. We believe that the answer may involve acoustic signals generated using nanomechanical oscillations from inside the cell which allow rapid communication between nearby plants.”

What Can Humans Learn?

Flowers need water and light to grow and people are no different. Our physical bodies are like sponges, soaking up the environment. “This is exactly why there are certain people who feel uncomfortable in specific group settings where there is a mix of energy and emotions,” said psychologist and energy healer Dr. Olivia Bader-Lee.

“When energy studies become more advanced in the coming years, we will eventually see this translated to human beings as well, stated Bader-Lee. “The human organism is very much like a plant, it draws needed energy to feed emotional states and this can essentially energize cells or cause increases in cortisol and catabolize cells depending on the emotional trigger.”

Bader-Lee suggests that the field of bio-energy is now ever evolving and that studies on the plant and animal world will soon translate and demonstrate what energy metaphysicians have known all along — that humans can heal each other simply through energy transfer just as plants do. “Human can absorb and heal through other humans, animals, and any part of nature. That’s why being around nature is often uplifting and energizing for so many people,” she concluded.

Michael Forrester is a spiritual counselor and is a practicing motivational speaker for corporations in Japan, Canada and the United States.

This is What Happens to your body when you exercise

Growing evidence indicates that both fasting and exercise trigger genes and growth factors that recycle and rejuvenate your brain and muscle tissues. These growth factors include BDNF, as just mentioned, and muscle regulatory factors, or MRFs.

 

One of the key health benefits of exercise is that it helps normalize your glucose, insulin, and leptin levels by optimizing insulin/leptin receptor sensitivity. This is perhaps the most important factor for optimizing your overall health and preventing chronic disease.

But exercise affects your body in countless other ways as well—both directly and indirectly. Here, however, even the most unexpected side effects are almost universally beneficial. For example, as illustrated in the featured article,1 side effects of exercise include but are not limited to:

  • Improved sexual function
  • Changes in gene expression
  • Clearer skin
  • Improved mood
  • Improved sleep

What Happens in Your Body When You Exercise?

The featured article in Huffington Post2 highlights a number of biological effects that occur, from head to toe, when you exercise. This includes changes in your:

  • Muscles, which use glucose and ATP for contraction and movement. To create more ATP, your body needs extra oxygen, so breathing increases and your heart starts pumping more blood to your muscles. 

    Without sufficient oxygen, lactic acid will form instead. Tiny tears in your muscles make them grow bigger and stronger as they heal.

     

  • Lungs. As your muscles call for more oxygen (as much as 15 times more oxygen than when you’re at rest), your breathing rate increases. Once the muscles surrounding your lungs cannot move any faster, you’ve reached what’s called your VO2 max—your maximum capacity of oxygen use. The higher your VO2 max, the fitter you are. 
  • Heart. As mentioned, your heart rate increases with physical activity to supply more oxygenated blood to your muscles. The fitter you are, the more efficiently your heart can do this, allowing you to work out longer and harder. As a side effect, this increased efficiency will also reduce your resting heart rate. Your blood pressure will also decrease as a result of new blood vessels forming. 
  • Brain. The increased blood flow also benefits your brain, allowing it to almost immediately function better. As a result, you tend to feel more focused after a workout. Furthermore, exercising regularly will promote the growth of new brain cells. In your hippocampus, these new brain cells help boost memory and learning. As stated in the featured article 

    “When you work out regularly, your brain gets used to this frequent surge of blood and adapts by turning certain genes on or off. Many of these changes boost brain cell function and protect from diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or even stroke, and ward off age-related decline.”

     

    A number of neurotransmitters are also triggered, such as endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, glutamate, and GABA. Some of these are well-known for their role in mood control. Exercise, in fact, is one of the most effective prevention and treatment strategies for depression.

     

  • Joints and bones, as exercise can place as much as five or six times more than your body weight on them. Peak bone mass is achieved in adulthood and then begins a slow decline, but exercise can help you to maintain healthy bone mass as you get older. 

    Weight-bearing exercise is actually one of the most effective remedies against osteoporosis, as your bones are very porous and soft, and as you get older your bones can easily become less dense and hence, more brittle — especially if you are inactive.

Your Brain Health Is Directly Related to Exercise…

 

 

 

 

 

A related article published by Lifehacker.com focuses exclusively on brain-related changes that occur when you exercise. While I just mentioned that neurotransmitters, chemical messengers in your brain, such as mood-boosting serotonin, are released during a bout of exercise, that doesn’t account for all the benefits your brain reaps.

“If you start exercising, your brain recognizes this as a moment of stress. As your heart pressure increases, the brain thinks you are either fighting the enemy or fleeing from it. To protect yourself and your brain from stress, you release a protein called BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor). This BDNF has a protective and also reparative element to your memory neurons and acts as a reset switch. That’s why we often feel so at ease and like things are clear after exercising,” Leo Widrich writes.

Simultaneously, your brain releases endorphins, another stress-related chemical. According to researcher MK McGovern, the endorphins minimize the physical pain and discomfort associated with exercise. They’re also responsible for the feeling of euphoria that many people report when exercising regularly.

Scientists have been linking the benefits of physical exercise to brain health for many years, but recent research4, 5 has made it clear that the two aren’t just simply related; rather, it is THE relationship. The evidence shows that physical exercise helps you build a brain that not only resists shrinkage, but increases cognitive abilities. Exercise encourages your brain to work at optimum capacity by causing your nerve cells to multiply, strengthening their interconnections, and protecting them from damage. There are multiple mechanisms at play here, but some are becoming more well-understood than others.

The rejuvenating role of BDNF is one of them. BDNF activates brain stem cells to convert into new neurons. It also triggers numerous other chemicals that promote neural health. Further, exercise provides protective effects to your brain through:

  • The production of nerve-protecting compounds
  • Improved development and survival of neurons
  • Decreased risk of heart and blood vessel diseases
  • Altering the way damaging proteins reside inside your brain, which appears to slow the development of Alzheimer’s disease

Both Fasting and Exercise Trigger Brain Rejuvenation…

 

 

 

 

 

Growing evidence indicates that both fasting and exercise trigger genes and growth factors that recycle and rejuvenate your brain and muscle tissues. These growth factors include BDNF, as just mentioned, and muscle regulatory factors, or MRFs.

These growth factors signal brain stem cells and muscle satellite cells to convert into new neurons and new muscle cells respectively. Interestingly enough, BDNF also expresses itself in the neuro-muscular system where it protects neuro-motors from degradation. (The neuromotor is the most critical element in your muscle. Without the neuromotor, your muscle is like an engine without ignition. Neuro-motor degradation is part of the process that explains age-related muscle atrophy.)

So BDNF is actively involved in both your muscles and your brain, and this cross-connection, if you will, appears to be a major part of the explanation for why a physical workout can have such a beneficial impact on your brain tissue. It, quite literally, helps prevent, and even reverse, brain decay as much as it prevents and reverses age-related muscle decay.

This also helps explain why exercise while fasting can help keep your brain, neuro-motors, and muscle fibers biologically young. For more information on how to incorporate intermittent fasting into your exercise routine for maximum benefits, please see this previous article. Sugar suppresses BDNF, which also helps explain why a low-sugar diet in combination with regular exercise is so effective for protecting memory and staving off depression.

This Is Your Brain on Exercise

BDNF and endorphins are two of the factors triggered by exercise that help boost your mood, make you feel good, and sharpen your cognition. As mentioned by Lifehacker, they’re similar to morphine and heroin in their action and addictiveness—but without any of the harmful side effects. Quite the contrary! So, how much do you have to exercise in order to maintain a sunnier disposition and better memory long-term?

According to a 2012 study published in the journal Neuroscience, the “secret” to increased productivity and happiness on any given day is a long-term investment in regular exercise. And a little each day appears to go further than a lot once or twice a week.

“Those who had exercised during the preceding month but not on the day of testing generally did better on the memory test than those who had been sedentary, but did not perform nearly as well as those who had worked out that morning,” the authors note.

The reasons for this can perhaps be best perceived visually. Take a look at these images, showing the dramatic increase in brain activity after a 20 minute walk, compared to sitting quietly for the same amount of time.

 

There is a minor caveat, however. The researchers also discovered that exercise does not affect the brains of all people in exactly the same way. Some people, about 30 percent of people of European Caucasian descent, have a BDNF gene variant that hinders post-exercise BDNF production. The people with this BDNF variant did not improve their memory scores, even when exercising regularly, as significantly as those without this variant. Still, the research clearly suggests that—with individual variations as to the degree—regular exercise will cumulatively enhance your memory and other brain functions.

You Don’t Need to Train Like an Athlete to Reap the Benefits of Exercise

If you are sedentary there is hope for you. In her book, The First 20 Minutes: Surprising Science Reveals How We Can Exercise Better, Train Smarter, Live Longer, New York Times bestselling author Gretchen Reynolds addresses the issue of exercise as a way to improve longevity and happiness as well.

“The first 20 minutes of moving around, if someone has been really sedentary, provide most of the health benefits. You get prolonged life, reduced disease risk – all of those things come in in the first 20 minutes of being active,” she said in a 2012 interview.

“Two-thirds of Americans get no exercise at all. If one of those people gets up and moves around for 20 minutes, they are going to get a huge number of health benefits, and everything beyond that 20 minutes is, to some degree, gravy. That doesn’t mean I’m suggesting people should not exercise more if they want to. You can always do more. But the science shows that if you just do anything, even stand in place 20 minutes, you will be healthier.”

Similarly, research9 published in 2008 found that those who exercised on work days experienced significantly improved mood on days that they exercised. Interestingly, while their mood remained fairly constant even on non-exercise work days, their sense of inner calm deteriorated on those days. According to the authors:

“Critically, workers performed significantly better on exercise days and across all three areas we measured, known as mental-interpersonal, output and time demands.”

Key findings included:

  • 72 percent had improved time management on exercise days compared to non-exercise days
  • 79 percent reported improved mental and interpersonal performance in exercise days
  • 74 percent said they managed their workload better
  • Those who exercised regularly also reported feeling more than 40 percent more “motivated to work” and scored more than 20 percent higher for concentration and finishing work on time

But remember, it is FAR better to exercise regularly. I believe it is also vital to engage in regular movement if you have a sitting job like most of us do, including me. I typically sit in front of a computer for more than 12 hours a day. What I have recently appreciated is that standing up every 10 minutes (with the help of a timer) and engaging in some type of brief exercise, is an enormously powerful habit to minimize the damage of long term sitting.

Aim for a Well-Rounded Fitness Program

Ideally, to truly optimize your health, you’ll want to strive for a varied and well-rounded fitness program that incorporates a wide variety of exercises. As a general rule, as soon as an exercise becomes easy to complete, you need to increase the intensity and/or try another exercise to keep challenging your body.

Additionally, more recent research has really opened my eyes to the importance of non-exercise movement. Truly, the key to health is to remain as active as you can, all day long, but that doesn’t mean you train like an athlete for hours a day. It simply means, whenever you have a chance to move and stretch your body in the course of going about your day—do it!

And the more frequently, the better. Everything from standing up, to reaching for an item on a tall shelf, to weeding in your garden and walking from one room to another, and even doing dishes count. In short, it’s physical movement, period, that promotes health benefits by the interaction your body gets with gravity. To learn more about this important aspect of health, please see this previous article. That said, I recommend incorporating the following types of exercise into your program:

  • Interval (Anaerobic) Training: This is when you alternate short bursts of high-intensity exercise with gentle recovery periods.
  • Strength Training: Rounding out your exercise program with a 1-set strength training routine will ensure that you’re really optimizing the possible health benefits of a regular exercise program. You can also “up” the intensity by slowing it down. For more information about using super slow weight training as a form of high intensity interval exercise, please see my interview with Dr. Doug McGuff.
  • Stand Up Every 10 Minutes. This is not intuitively obvious, but emerging evidence clearly shows that even highly fit people who exceed the expert exercise recommendations are headed for premature death if they sit for long periods of time. My interview with NASA scientist Dr. Joan Vernikos goes into great detail why this is so, and what you can do about it. Personally, I usually set my timer for 10 minutes while sitting, and then stand up and do one legged squats, jump squats or lunges when the timer goes off. The key is that you need to be moving all day long, even in non-exercise activities.
  • Core Exercises: Your body has 29 core muscles located mostly in your back, abdomen and pelvis. This group of muscles provides the foundation for movement throughout your entire body, and strengthening them can help protect and support your back, make your spine and body less prone to injury and help you gain greater balance and stability.
  • Foundation Training, created by Dr. Eric Goodman, is an integral first step of a larger program he calls “Modern Moveology,” which consists of a catalog of exercises. Postural exercises such as those taught in Foundation Training are critical not just for properly supporting your frame during daily activities, they also retrain your body so you can safely perform high-intensity exercises without risking injury.
  • Exercise programs like Pilates and yoga are also great for strengthening your core muscles, as are specific exercises you can learn from a personal trainer.
  • Stretching: My favorite type of stretching is active isolated stretches developed by Aaron Mattes. With Active Isolated Stretching, you hold each stretch for only two seconds, which works with your body’s natural physiological makeup to improve circulation and increase the elasticity of muscle joints. This technique also allows your body to repair itself and prepare for daily activity. You can also use devices like the Power Plate to help you stretch.

 

Sensory Deprivation: Meditation Isolation Chambers

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An isolation tank is a lightless, soundproof tank inside which subjects float in salt water at skin temperature. They were first used by John C. Lilly in 1954 to test the effects of sensory deprivation. Such tanks are now also used for meditation and relaxation and in alternative medicine. The isolation tank was originally called the sensory deprivation tank. Other names for the isolation tank include flotation tankJohn C. Lilly tankREST tanksensory attenuation tank, and think tank.

Ever thought of what it would be like to have your sensory input completely cut off while in meditation? According to many people who have tried sensory deprivation they say it is a great form of therapy.. Imagine the “distractions” being completely cut off, leaving only pure unchecked consciousness. This is the essence of what sensory deprivation is.

The History of the Isolation Chamber

“John C. Lilly, a medical practitioner and neuro-psychiatrist, developed the flotation tank in 1954. During his training in psychoanalysis at the US National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), Lilly commenced experiments with sensory deprivation. In neurophysiology, there had been an open question as to what keeps the brain going and the origin of its energy sources. One hypothesis was that the energy sources are biological and internal and do not depend upon the outside environment. It was argued that if all stimuli are cut off to the brain then the brain would go to sleep. Lilly decided to test this hypothesis and, with this in mind, created an environment which totally isolated an individual from external stimulation. From here, he studied the origin of consciousness and its relation to the brain.

Peter Suedfeld and Roderick Borrie of the University of British Columbia began experimenting on the therapeutic benefits of flotation tank usage in the late 1970s. They named their technique “Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy” (REST). -Wikipedia

Why An Isolation Chamber?

“A sensory deprivation tank can help activate your mental powers and even open a gateway to another universe. But what can floating in a dark warm tank do for you in real life? And why would people even want to do such a thing?” -said I09.com.

A sensory deprivation tank is a temperature regulated, saltwater (Epsom) filled tank that blocks all light, sound, and creates the illusion of being “weightless” like in space. The weightless feeling comes from the salt and the temperature regulated water. The water is warmed to “skin temperature” effectively making it feel like there is nothing touching you, but you’re floating. Imagine what it would be like to put your brain in a box with nothing else stimulating it besides the vastness of your consciousness. People have reported having incredible experiences like OBE’s and traveling the cosmos, to reaching a state of peace that is so therapeutic and positive that people swear by it and now regularly have sessions in the tanks.

By comparison, characterizations of sensory deprivation like this one by comedian Joe Rogan begin to sound downright grounded — and Rogan’s descriptions of hallucinations, heightened levels of introspection, and the sensation that the mind has left the body are actually among the most commonly reported experiences among tank users. Even renowned physicist Richard Feynman described having hallucinations and out-of-body experiences while using sensory deprivation chambers. -said I09.com

If you are interested in trying Sensory Deprivation, there is good news, there are centers in nearly every city at an affordable price. You can find a center near you here: http://floatation.biz/floatfinder/

Now that we’ve gone through the history and uses of the isolation chamber, I recommend watching these short videos to get a better perspective on some of the first hand experiences people have had with sensory deprivation.