“Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love.”

~ Dr. Martin Luther King

Our brains have the remarkable capacity to adapt and change throughout our lives. This ability to form and reorganize neural pathways in response to learning, experience, injury, disease, or aging is called neuroplasticity.

Neuroplasticity helps the brain process sensory input along with creating suitable adaptive responses to stimuli. Neurons must have purpose to survive, and those with weak or ineffective connections are pruned. Through a variety of structural and molecular mechanisms, neurons compensate for injury or disease.


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When I read the Scriptures account of the birth of Jesus, one thing that stands out is the theme of humility. As I reflect on humility, I realize that it is a gift that offers us enormous personal freedom and possibility.

One of my favorite passages in the Bible is the prayer Mary recites when she finds out she is going to birth the baby Jesus. Called The Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55), the prayer begins: “My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices.” But this is so much more than a simple prayer of praise.


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“I alone cannot change the world,but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”
~Mother Teresa

Most of our reactions are based on pre-programed habituated behavior responses—not fully conscious choices. When we are fully conscious and connected to Source we realize our true purpose is to love and bring goodness to all; but we have to be fully conscious in order to be capable of truly loving.

Most people live life on cruise control, with little consideration for the miracle and meaning of existence. I believe it’s important to pause in the busyness of life, and to take time for reflection. This encompasses not only who we are at this moment, but more importantly, who we are capable of becoming, all while considering the role God plays in our journey.


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 I discovered that technology’s quest towards the unknown
requires us to accumulate more and more control,
whereas growing in virtue requires an altogether different capacity:
more and more surrender.
~Nipun Mehta

 

 

Believe it or not, I do not own a smartphone. I’m not averse to technology. But I spend so much time on my computer engaged in research and writing that when I take a break from my work, I truly take a break. I want to be fully present in life without the temptation of looking at my smartphone. Instead of focusing on my phone, I walk down the street enjoying my surroundings and smiling at people as I pass by. If I need directions, I ask someone directly, engaging in real communication with another human being.

Along with the benefit of being engaged in life, removing myself from the seductive pull of technology frees up time for my mind to wander, which is essential to creative thought and wellbeing.

On average, people in the U.S. check their smartphones 46 times per day (up from 33 times per day in 2014). And it’s worse for users in the U.K. A study by Nottingham Trent University found that adults ages 18-33 checked their smartphones 85 times a day, or once every 10 minutes—and they don’t even know they are doing it.1

We are giving up our uniqueness as individuals, becoming mere facts and statistics plugged into technology and artificial intelligence. Many believe this is a good thing and will improve our lives. But as we create smarter robots that are increasingly human-like, humans are at the same time becoming more robot-like. What happens to the human spirit in this race for technology?

I am deeply concerned about the physical, emotional, and spiritual price we are paying for technology, which is advancing at a speed that is impossible for us to adjust to. Drug addiction, drug overdosing, and suicide are epidemic in our society, and feelings of isolation are a primary cause. Social interaction is emerging as perhaps the single most important factor to a long, healthy and happy life, but overdosing on technology leads to isolation, not interaction.

My new motto has become: “Together we heal.”


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Christmas, Hanukkah, and the Winter Solstice are a good time for reflection and renewal as well as celebration. This year, I invite you to take time to consider the way that you view the world, and how you might shift your thinking to become happier, healthier, more compassionate, and more at peace.

In my work, I am acutely aware of the adverse effects of a pessimistic, negative view of life. Depression, anxiety, and loneliness continue to increase in our society. There is no doubt that these are challenging and unsettling times in our world. But the truth is that we have always faced the painful challenges of war, political strife, prejudice, and tragedies on a global and personal level.

I encourage you to not fall into the quagmire of pessimism, discouragement, negativity, or bitterness. I hear many people speak of their distress and their belief that the world is doomed. They see only tragedy, hatred, and destruction, and believe nothing good is happening in the world. Keep an open heart, my brothers and sisters. Take time for stillness, seek the truth, and devote yourself to acts of loving-kindness.

Devote yourself to acts of loving kindness”

Keep Your Focus on Responding, not Reacting

I find it helpful in life to focus on responding, not reacting. This is difficult when we are continually reacting to the barrage of information presented by technology. The more fast-paced and frenzied life becomes, the more we tend to react. Slowing down is a simple way of allowing the opportunity for thoughtful response.

We can begin to slow down by reducing our access to personal smart phones, computers, and electronics in general. Instead, take the time to meet a friend in the park or at a coffee shop. Relax, converse, and enjoy. This may sound radical, but occasionally leave your phone in the car or at home. You may be surprised at how much richer and more meaningful your interactions and life are when not lived through technology. We need to have fellowship, and we need to give love, receive love and feel a sense of belonging. This is spiritual nourishment, and without it we starve.


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Sometimes referred to as the “love hormone,” oxytocin is a powerful natural biochemical with physical and psychological effects. Acting as both a hormone (affecting the endocrine system) and a neurotransmitter (affecting the nervous system), oxytocin is well known for enhancing sexual behavior, reproduction, childbirth, breastfeeding, and maternal bonding. Perhaps less well known is the role that oxytocin plays in generating compassion, empathy, trust, relationship building, and social bonding.

Oxytocin (Oxt; /ˌɒksɪˈtoʊsɪn/) is a peptide hormone and neuropeptide.

The Whole-Body Effects of Oxytocin

Produced by large neuroendocrine cells in the hypothalamus, oxytocin is transported to and secreted by the pituitary gland, where it is released into the bloodstream and carried throughout the body and brain.1 When oxytocin enters the bloodstream, it affects the uterus and lactation, but when it is released into the brain, it affects emotional, cognitive, and social behavior, and enhances relaxation and psychological stability.

By helping the body adapt to highly emotional situations, oxytocin reduces stress and helps us respond appropriately to our social environment. Research shows that oxytocin benefits a variety of conditions, including anxiety, depression, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Oxytocin also regulates nonhomeostatic, reward-related energy intake, hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis activity, and the glucoregulatory response to food intake in humans. For these reasons, oxytocin may be helpful in the treatment of metabolic disorders, as well as helping to manage food cravings and weight.2-5


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